Alison Tedford and her partner of five years decided to call it quits around two months ago. Despite her new, unexpected single status, the single mom to 12-year-old Liam was starting to hit a nice groove. But then a global pandemic struck, and her world became even smaller.
Isolated in her Abbotsford condo, this freelance writer continues to work, while managing her son’s homeschooling and a connective tissue disorder that causes her chronic pain.
In continuing with our Covid in the Community series, Tedford candidly shares some honest and raw insight into single motherhood amid COVID-19.
How has life changed for you and your family in the last month?
As a freelance content marketer, essayist, blogger, and social media manager, my business consumes many hours. We live in a condo near old Abbotsford, where I work from home at a desk in the living room. It doubles as our homeschool centre and video game central.
I didn’t go out a lot before this, but I used to love walking down to the cafes and shops in Old Abbotsford and visiting with friends. My son loves school and is missing his friends and his teachers. He goes to a great school, and he misses going there.
Tell us how you are coping in quarantine?
I’m Indigenous and have a connective tissue disorder that causes joint dislocations, chronic pain, and a laundry list of health issues. It can be challenging to manage at the best of times. For this reason, I have been very cautious about social distancing. I have weakened lung tissue from my condition, and my immune system is low.
I have been spending way more energy on getting groceries than I ever imagined I would. Trying to find toilet paper and getting the things we need for recipes has been a challenge and has made meal planning difficult. We have ordered meal kits to help offset those challenges and ensure we get regular food deliveries.
Friends have pitched in to get us harder-to-find items and drop them off. I watch a lot of press conferences, more than ever in my whole life. I have become a Dr. Bonnie Henry super fan. I cry frequently. I am mostly coping, but sometimes it’s overwhelming.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a single mom during all of this craziness?
I am so lonely, especially when my son is away at his dads. I’m a huggy, touchy, feely person, and this six-feet away business is tough for me. It’s like the opposite of the newborn phase when you are all touched out. I really need a hug. I’m considering a weighted blanket and U-shaped pregnancy pillow just to offset the sensory deprivation.
Okay fess up. Have you tried any dating apps during this time? If so, any funny stories you care to share? Spill.
Oh my. So yes, I did dip a toe in the dating app pool. There are a lot of bad pickup lines.
“If COVID doesn’t take you out, can I?”
I had a FaceTime date sort of, which is kind of like a coffee date, but you have to make your own coffee. It’s hard because it’s not like you can really meet anybody. In the time before the pandemic and then as it set in, it seemed like people were re-evaluating their lives and more open to connecting with people they wouldn’t have considered before.
The running joke among my friends was that I thought I was getting more matches as a curvy lacrosse mom because they assumed I have better quarantine snacks.
I am not actively dating. I have enough problems getting toilet paper and flour, let alone trying to find a man. Priorities! (But call me when this is over, fellas!)
How is home school actually going?
Home school is pretty chill. Our school recognizes that we are working, that people may be sick, we may not have printer paper… they’re just really realistic about what is achievable. They have encouraged us not to replicate a whole full-time classroom experience. When they emailed us about what ongoing learning opportunities would look like, I cried from the compassionate words of our principal. Homeschooling doesn’t take a lot of time, so typically, my son sleeps in and does his homeschool while I’m working and then proceeds to entertain himself.
You work hard, but what do you guys do for fun these days?
We were gifted an exercise bike from a dear friend, and both my son and I are using it regularly and enjoying that. I am finding joy in cooking, which is surreal because I usually hate it. Still, I’m feeling pride in what I’ve been able to accomplish. My son attends his Scout meetings virtually to stay in touch with his friends. We listen to music a lot. I have live streams of local musicians I listen to five nights a week. I love live music but struggle with too noisy bars, so this has been a great way to enjoy music without leaving home. I’m singing along with Spotify and dancing around the apartment and listening to audiobooks. I’m hanging out on the patio and getting fresh air, which has been lovely and much needed. My friends and I have done some fun photo challenges like fake glamour shots and recreating celebrity photos, so that has been entertaining also.
Have you managed to find ways to practice self-care and combat the loneliness?
I’m finally getting enough sleep, eating more regularly and consistently, and having better quality food now that I’m cooking things versus heating frozen entrees. I’m focusing on skincare because it’s always been a frustration, and now I have time!
I’m spending lots of quality time in the tub. I might end up pruney by the time we are allowed to go out again. I tried a colour depositing mask to offset the grey that popped up during pandemic life. I’m exercising, and I’m going to add yoga next, and drinking more water is my next goal.
I’ve been having video chats with girlfriends and even did some livestreams with blogger friends just for fun and to alleviate loneliness. I post a daily check- in on my personal Facebook where my friends share about their day, and I share about my day. I text my mom and sisters a lot, and I try to reach out to 5-10 people a day on Facebook messenger for conversation. I’m also working to avoid feeling lonely.
I’m also writing a book that’s coming out in the spring through Self-Counsel Press, and I’m focused on getting my manuscript in early. This helps me not notice I am the only one here. The lonely is the hardest part for sure.
What would you say has been the up side to this pandemic?
After three years of running my own business, having no routine and no selfcare, I’m finally doing what I need to do to take care of myself. It seems really important to keep from getting sick and to be able to cope better with the demands of pandemic life. I am really grateful to have such a wonderfully supportive community though, a coach friend from the United States even sent us dinner one night, so I could have a night off from cooking. Another friend sent home-baked cookies, fresh stationery, a high-performance planner, and new planner pages. Friends text to ask if we need anything when they are at the store. We are really well looked after by our circle.
What will be the first thing you do when social distancing comes to an end?
I’m going to get a vanilla latte, a haircut and colour, a mani-pedi and my eyebrows sugared. I’m also going to hug as many people as possible, and have a berry mojito at Lou’s. I want to hop on a bus and head up to visit my mom and go to my Nana’s care home and hug her. Mostly the hugging thing though.
What advice do you have for single parents right now to get through this health crisis in one piece?
Lean into your friendships and family relationships. Do the best you can, but the magic your kids will remember is going to be the things you didn’t try all that hard with because, to them, we are already magical. We just forget that sometimes. Give yourself space to fall apart when you need to. Find ways to nurture yourself and to be nurtured.
Alison Tedford is a blogger at Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops and founder of Feel Better Marketing. You can find her on Instagram @alisontedford, Twitter @alliespins, and Facebook @sparklyshoesandsweatdrops.