How to cope as a single parent during the pandemic

A young girl standing up in a colourful tube in a garden.

Frolo, a single parenting app by London member Zoë Desmond, is keeping solo mums and dads sane right now

By Jess Kelham-Hohler   Images by Olivia Arthur (Magnum Photos)    Sunday 3 May, 2020   Short read

Thanks to the shutdown of schools, limited time allowed outdoors and the trials of trying to work from home, parents around the world are finding themselves having to go above and beyond the call of duty. For single parents, the burden is arguably even tougher.

For Zoë Desmond, feelings of isolation proved to be a struggle when she became a single parent three years ago. Craving the company of others in her situation, who would understand her and be up for joining playdates or weekend outings, Desmond came up with her own solution – and in September 2019, Frolo (a hybrid of ‘friend’ and ‘solo’) was born. 

The first app of its kind, Frolo allows members to find like-minded single parents in their area and connect via direct private messages or a topic-based group. On launch day, 2,500 users signed up, and in the past nine months the number has grown to more than 6,000 in the UK and Ireland.

‘Alleviating loneliness by connecting and meeting up with people who understand your situation, feeling empowered by having access to advice and guidance when you need it – these things can really transform life for a single parent,’ says Desmond. ‘In turn, this helps us be the best parents we can be, and shows our kids that they don’t have to feel different or ‘other’ because they are from a one-parent family home. 

This community has proved invaluable for users in the current climate, when the pressures of single parenthood have intensified, and support systems and moral support are even more in need.

‘We’ve had to adapt quickly and create a virtual alternative to our usual Frolo meet-ups,’ explains Desmond. ‘The virtual meet-ups have taken off very quickly and more than 100 have been organised already. They’ve been a real lifeline for the community, ranging from online dinner parties to pub trips”. It’s been amazing to see everyone pulling together and supporting one another through lockdown.’
a young girl sitting on the floor with homework and a map
Here, Desmond shares some of the tips for single parents from her own experience and the Frolo community on how to survive lockdown.

Be kind to yourself 
‘Accept that your home will be a mess, and try to adapt as best you can without putting too much pressure on yourself. Don’t feel guilty about things like giving the kids screen time when you need some respite. We have to use whatever coping mechanisms we have access to, including iPads.’

Set some goals each day 
‘A little bit of routine and structure can be helpful, but don’t stress if you can’t stick to it. Figure out what makes the day easier for you and work with it.’

Stay connected 
‘It’s important to make sure you are getting some adult interaction and moral support, too, so reach out to friends, family and the Frolo community on the app. A virtual meet-up after you’ve put your kids to bed can work wonders to lift your spirits at the end of the day.’ 

Prioritise your wellbeing 
‘Try to get outside and exercise each day; the endorphins and serotonin will boost your mood and energy.’

Look at the situation through your child’s eyes
‘They are probably loving being with you more. As much as you can, try to make this a magical, fun time to remember for them.’

Frolo.com