Single Parents Social Bubble Is What These Families Need to Survive the Pandemic

Photo: (Photo : Chewy / Unsplash)

Frontline worker and single mother of two Annmarie Sliney opened up about the challenges she encountered in her roles amid the pandemic. The Dublin mom said that it had been a learning curve for her with the school closures, working at odd hours and longer shifts, and her family battling COVID-19.


Front Line Healthcare Worker and Single Mom of Twins Struggle During Pandemic

Sliney is a mom to 9-year-old twin girls, Méabh and Áine. Ever since the pandemic, she needed to balance the constantly changing and demanding needs of her work and her children. Sliney, the assistant director of midwifery and nursing at the Rotanda Hospital, had been in service for over 27 years. Now, there are safety concerns on top of the already unpredictable business that is pregnancy and childbirth. The frontline worker needed to work 14-hour shifts, early-morning and night duty at any given time of the week. Then the pandemic lockdown started, and schools closed.

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Finding Someone to Take Care of Kids Amid the Pandemic

As Sliney was needed more at the hospital, she needed someone she can depend on while the children stay at home due to the school closures. She said that to feel balanced, she needed to be sure her girls' needs were met first. But within the week the pandemic started, the family lost their live-in au pair who needed to go come to care for her mother. That was the first member of their social support that the family lost.

Next, Sliney planned to live with her retired parents. However, before they even made the move, Sliney's mother began to show the symptoms of COVID-19, Irish Times reported. Alternatively, the mom and her daughters could move in with her sister, brother-in-law, and children. However, there were concerns about her sister's work, who also happened to be a frontline health professional. So the risk of exposure to COVID-19 was even greater.

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Mom Found Single Parents Social Bubble in the Form of a Friendly Neighbor

A day before the family was to move to the sister's home, Sliney was met by a neighbor-friend who offered to look after her daughters. It stunned her as the neighbor also began to work from home and also had her own children to care for. However, her fears and worries were eased, knowing that now she has a selfless and empathetic support network that she could count on. While she needed to calm her daughters, who felt worried that their mom needed to go to work while other kids' parents stayed at home, she felt relieved that she had strong support, which meant she did not miss a single day at work.

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Who Can Start a Social Bubble?

The single mom could have been overwhelmed had she not accepted the help of others. She knew early on that she needed a strong support system. She had her parents, sister, and a live-in au pair she could count on. But when situations changed, she learned to adapt. Yet she stood by the importance of a social bubble for single parents and did not try to handle things on her own.

When forming a social bubble, keep in mind that there are limitations as to who can be in a social bubble, especially now with the pandemic. There is no social distancing within the social bubble, which is taken to be two households merged into one. So, overnights are okay. Those who live solo, have children under age 5, or has a child with a disability, ages 16 or 17 and living without an adult, or like Sliney, who is a single adult who lives with children under age 18, can form a social bubble. It is wise to have the social bubble living locally or in close proximity with each other.

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