There’s no doubt about it – the pandemic has brought serious challenges to parents everywhere. Juggling home working and home-schooling while navigating your kids’ screen time and your own mental wellbeing hasn’t been easy! And those are just some of the uphill battles parents have faced over the course of the pandemic. However, it hasn’t all been bad news… In fact, new studies show that for many, the pandemic has shifted parenting styles for the better.
The turbulence of 2020 has certainly made parents reassess their parenting styles. One study conducted in the U.S shows that four in five parents (80 per cent) said that the pandemic has caused them to completely re-evaluate how they parent. 72 per cent of parents involved in the study said that the pandemic has helped them to become a more compassionate parent than they were before. In addition, 73 per cent of them talked about the importance of prioritising the little moments they share with their kids. Here in the UK, the time parents spent on developmental childcare shot up by 169 per cent during the pandemic. Recent figures also show that parents have found childcare more enjoyable overall.
The pandemic has changed a lot about parenting, whatever stage you’re at. From pregnant women ticking off their hospital bag checklists, ready to give birth alone to parents with home-schooled teenagers, everyone has had to adjust this year. For many, however, these adjustments have meant positive changes that they plan to carry forward.
Quality time comes first
If there’s one thing that the pandemic has allowed for, it’s quality time. Recent figures show that time spent with children shot up dramatically during the pandemic, for both mums and dads. Since we’ve been living our lives from the confines of our own homes, parents and children have had a lot more one-on-one time. Of course, many parents would argue that this has been both a blessing and a curse. Quality time with the little ones is one thing but seeing that curious face pop up in the background of your Zoom business meeting is another! However, overall parents have been embracing this extra bonding time.
For pregnant mums and parents with new-born babies, the chance to spend extra time at home has also been a positive aspect of the past year. Also, where dads have been able to work from home, they’ve had more opportunity to bond with their new-borns or lend a hand to their pregnant partner.
Gender roles reimagined
The pandemic has caused a big shift in family dynamics, and for dads, this has meant more involvement than ever in parenting duties. Although gender roles have shifted over the years, the majority of the parenting has traditionally fallen on mum. The pandemic, however, has shaken that up. According to The Guardian, there has been a huge surge in the number of hours that men are spending with their kids since the beginning of the pandemic. In May 2020, the Office of National Statistics revealed that the first lockdown had resulted in a 58 per cent increase in the amount of childcare undertaken by men, along with an hour and 37 minutes drop in men’s working hours per day.
This shift is huge and something that should not be forgotten after the pandemic. Dads everywhere have embraced more quality time with their children, and this big step towards equal parenting is a clear silver lining in a difficult year.
Despite this positive change, many ‘dads-to-be’ have missed out on important milestones such as attending doctors’ appointments with their partners, or in some cases, the birth of their baby. Thankfully, solo hospital appointments for mums-to-be is something that we can leave behind us after the pandemic.
It’s not a competition
Another thing that the pandemic has taught parents everywhere is that it’s okay to admit that it’s hard. Often, parents can get caught up in competitiveness. Or, at least, the dangerous habit of comparing themselves to those seemingly ‘perfect’ mums and dads picking up their kids at the school gates. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the illusion of the ‘perfect parent’ has been shattered. It has felt more socially acceptable to admit that some days, it’s really hard.
Lockdowns have led to communities and families coming together, whether that be over video calls, through socially distanced meet-ups, or even introducing new babies to relatives through windows! For parents, there’s more understanding and support from the wider world than ever before. Yes, your kids might be having more screen time than before, but you’re doing your best, and other parents recognise that too. This compassion, understanding, and movement away from competitive parenting is something that we’d all do well to carry forward.
There are many lessons that we can take away from parenting during the pandemic. Whatever stage you’re at in the rollercoaster ride that is parenting, take note from what we’ve learnt during the pandemic and consider which changes you want to carry forward with you.