It was a Tuesday afternoon and I was sitting in one of many professional development meetings the week before school started. I cleared my throat for the 8 millionth time and attempted to suppress a cough. “Don’t cough or people will think you have COVID,” I thought to myself. Luckily, I had gotten my second Pfizer vaccine and figured I had picked up a cold somewhere. Later, I drove to CVS for cough drops and told my mom on the phone that I had a cough. “Maybe you should get a COVID test just in case,” she suggested. So I grabbed a Binax rapid test on my way out the door and took it in the parking lot. I was shocked to immediately see two lines pop up—a definite positive.
No, I don’t know where I got the virus, and yes, I wear masks when out and about. I do have an autoimmune disorder, which may have contributed to my breakthrough case. I wish I could pinpoint something specific that I did that you could avoid, but unfortunately, it seems like this new variant is more contagious and is everywhere. My symptoms eventually progressed to a bad headache that felt like a sinus infection, a steady cough, body aches, congestion, and fatigue like when I had a newborn and two-year-old.
After a panicked phone call to my school nurse and attempts to contact everyone I’d sat next to for the last few days, the fact that I was going to have to somehow attempt to parent my two girls (one vaccinated, one not) while isolating myself and somehow get them through their first week of school set in. Today I am finally out of quarantine and thought I would share what helped me through the last ten days. Neither of my girls nor any co-workers got the virus, which I am extremely thankful for! Here are my best tips if you are a solo parent with COVID.
Let your friends help you.
You know when people say, “Let me know if I can help at all”? You actually need help now, so take it. Order curbside groceries and let your friends bring them over. Your kids will have to eat, so let friends bring meals if offered. If they are willing, they can run your kids to school or sports practices to get them out of the house. This is not the time to be too proud to ask for help! Take the help that is offered.
2. Isolate as much as is realistic.
My kids are 12 and 10, so they were able to be somewhat independent if I needed a nap (more on that later). I attempted to stay in my room as much as possible, but there was no way for me to stay completely isolated for ten days. I wore a mask around the house and tried my best not to touch things they used a lot (like the remote… more on that later too) or go into their rooms. Beyond that, I tried not to stress too much and just disinfected often. If I did have to drive the kids anywhere, I wore a mask in the car and made the kids sit in the back seat. The kids did not wear a mask in the house but did wear one in the car.
3. Keep your stress as low as you can.
It is a scary, stressful time when you or someone in your family has COVID. However, stress makes your symptoms worse and can also have a negative impact on your kids. When I came home and said I had COVID and needed to isolate, my oldest daughter asked tearfully if I was going to die. As a single mom, you’re going to have to let some things go and not stress about them. These things may include: the state of your house (Mine is a hot mess even now, ten days post-diagnosis.), how healthfully the kids are eating (Say it with me: dry Cheerios are just fine as a meal.), anything going on with your job (It will still be there when you recover.), and how healthfully you’re eating (Anything you feel like eating is fine.). Realize you’re scared and your kids are probably scared and don’t stress about small things.
4. Nap as much as you can.
Sleep is a great way to recover. If the kids are occupied, take advantage and nap as much as possible. It is hard for me not to feel lazy when napping, but your body is working really hard to recover, and the more you rest, the faster you’ll come back… or at least that’s what I told myself as I settled in for my third nap of the day.
5. Take advantage of your time at home.
No, not by cleaning. Do you guys know how many amazing shows are on right now? I didn’t, because I hadn’t had time to watch them until I got COVID. After I finished all six seasons of Below Deck, I discovered The White Lotus and The Flight Attendant on HBO. (Side tip: Go ahead and splurge on that streaming service you’ve been on the fence about.) When else will you get ten days at home to watch as much TV as you want… because a doctor told you to?!
I was shocked when my COVID test came back positive, especially since I am vaccinated and considered myself healthy. However, I know many people who are dealing with COVID right now. Without any political agenda, protect yourself as much as you can, and don’t consider yourself immune if you’re vaccinated (like I did). If you are a single parent, I hope my tips help you. If you’re not single, and you and your spouse both get it, check out Katie’s tips on how to manage small children.