Food for thought and wellbeing

Being a single parent comes with financial challenges, to begin with, let alone with a global pandemic at hand!

Since 1978, 1Up Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre has served the evolving needs of single-parent families in Greater Victoria. We do our best to respond to the changing circumstances of single parents. We learn from their experiences, reflect upon our resources and capacities and develop new programs and opportunities to offer relief to single parents. Our journey continues under the new circumstances that affect us all: a global pandemic that disrupts our family routines, physically distances us from loved ones, interrupts our work schedules, results in job loss, and stress as a result of uncertainties.

Being a single parent comes with financial challenges, to begin with, let alone with a global pandemic at hand! As jobs were being lost at a rapid rate we surveyed single parents in Greater Victoria and nearly 50% reported they found themselves struggling with having enough food for their family. To help meet this need we’ve turned our attention to food resources. With thanks to grant funding from the Rapid Relief Fund and Good Food Access we are now able to offer a weekly market day at the Centre. Any 1-Up Members that need help covering basic food costs are welcome!

Every Wednesday from 11-3 members can drop by the centre and pick up a bag of non-perishables, fresh garden produce, bread and often dairy, fruit and other goodies. $25 Grocery store gift cards are available to help meet specific food needs. The market will run weekly until the end of summer.

For all the single Mom’s and Dad’s out there doing your best and making choices to raise your child in a secure, happy healthy home environment – we celebrate you and are here to support you. What you are doing is not easy and we want to help make your life a little bit easier.

Building routines when staying at home

Have you been feeling a little edgy, restless, or out of control? You are not the only one.

As our daily lives and routines have been disrupted we have trouble marking the changing days and weeks (Is anyone else feeling flabbergasted that April is almost over?).

There is a lot of evidence to support the importance of routines. We have all read parenting books that tell us our toddlers need routines but our older children, and we ourselves need them too. Often when I suggest routines to people I get push back. Sometimes people tell me they don’t like to be “rigid”, or that they just like to go with the flow or that routines cause them stress.

I am here to urge you to give them a try because routines can actually alleviate stress. They make us feel more focused, they eliminate decision making, and they give structure to otherwise aimless days and weeks.

So, how do you build some routines that will actually work for you?

  1. Don’t be rigid. Your routine is not a carefully constructed minute by minute detailed plan of your day
  2.  Do be flexible. If something happens to disrupt your routine, that’s ok, take a breath, let it go (the breath and the routine)
  3. Set a task or chore for each day of the week and invite your kids to help
    • Monday – laundry
    • Tuesday – clean bathrooms
    • Wednesday-bake something yummy
    • Thursday – tidy bedrooms
    • Friday – plan weekend hike
    • Sat – family time
    • Sunday – plan your weeks meals (don’t want to shop more often than you have to)
  4. Start small and general
    • Set your alarm for the same time each week day
    • Go to bed at the same time each night
    • Turn off all screens 1 hour before bedtime (read a book or read out loud together)

Once you feel confident you may try to plan your day, maybe it will look like the one below, maybe not. .

An example of a routine that might work well for a family staying at home is:

  • Set the alarm and consistently get up at the same time each day.
  • Eat breakfast and tidy up.
  • Do a craft or play a board game
  • Go out for a walk
  • Have lunch
  • Do school work (take a nap if you are little)
  • Go for a walk
  • Prepare dinner (together as a family, or rotate each kid helping)
  • Clean up together
  • Movie time or board game time
  • Story time (no matter how old you are end your day with a book not a screen)
  • Sleep (at approximately the same time each night)

The point to the routine is to create a sense of flow to your days and weeks. To give everyone something to look forward to and some structure in which to get things done. Have fun, enjoy your time together as a family, and soon enough we will be back in our overly busy lives.

Thoughts on mindful parenting on a “snow day”

Lesley McNeely, Counsellor and Educational Coordinator

We spend so much time feeding [our children] and transporting them to events, we forget to stop and get to know them.

Here in Victoria a “snow day” is a very special event. It is a day when snow falls and shuts down our city. Now I am not going to lie to the rest of you out there – this is not the kind of snow that would shut down most cities. People in Montreal and Toronto would be laughing pretty hard at the idea of a snow day for so little snow, but here on our island “snow day” is special. It is unique, short-lived and an opportunity.

It is an opportunity to slow down, stay home, and put aside all the things we have to do and be still. It allows us to go outside to play for hours in the novelty snow, or stay inside to play board games, read and cuddle. It forces us to become present, in the moment and to put aside all the “shoulds” that bombard our daily thoughts.

It is this kind of presence in our own lives that Mindfulness encourages. Mindfulness is everywhere these days. There are blogs posts, articles and advertisements all telling us that we should “be more mindful” or practise mindfulness, which may or may not mean meditation depending on who is speaking.

So, what do we here at 1Up Single Parent Resource Centre mean when we speak of mindful parenting? Well, we are looking at the practice of mindfulness as introduced to the West by people such as Jon Kabat-Zinn. The practice of Mindful meditation and the concept of mindfulness is in no way a new one and the current uptake in interest in the West can likely be attributed to the increase in virtual ” noise” we all experience through our cell phones, computers, TV’s etc. Not so long ago if someone wanted your attention they had to write you a letter, send out a newspaper or call and leave a message if you weren’t there. You got to choose, when and to whom, you would pay attention. Our friends and families, strangers with random opinions (like me and this blog post) did not have instant access to our attention. If we wanted to watch TV we had only 1 of 12 channels to choose from. There were a limited number of choices for getting groceries or going shopping, we planned meals from a cookbook and most stores and businesses were closed on Sunday.

What does this mean for our parenting? It translates into a bombardment; a barrage of external noise that distracts us from our instincts as parents. We lose sight of how we want to parent. The good and the bad habits we are forming as parents, and the connection with each child as a separate individual. We lose track of who our children are and start to see them as we think they are. We spend so much time feeding them and transporting them to events, we forget to stop and get to know them. The world has conditioned us to believe that busy is happy and we forget to slow down and just be present.

Snow day last week reminded me of all this. It reminded me to stop and think about how I want my days and weeks to be shaped, whom I want to spend my time with, and the most important thing, it reminded me of – my children are growing and will soon be gone! I need to put aside all the many distractions and enjoy them while I have them.