Stress Of Parenting and Relationships During Covid

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed a lot for families with children in the past few weeks. And we know parents and carers might be worried about balancing working from home with family life, from creating structure to coping with difficult feelings. We've got tips and advice to support you and your family – whether you want to try something new today or just start thinking about changes to make over the coming weeks.

 Working from home with a family.

If you're working from home with children, it can be difficult to find balance and feel productive. Speak to your employer about flexibility and if it's possible to work different hours. But remember, it's important for you to not overstretch yourself and take care of your own mental wellbeing. Make sure you know about family friendly policies that can help spread the load.

Find a suitable place to work while being close to your children to supervise them. Having a set work space helps all the family to know you're working. Take regular breaks to rest and relax. Whilst it's important to have routine and structure, be prepared to adapt and be flexible to suit your family needs.

One of the biggest challenges can be supervising children appropriately. Some older children can be left on their own but younger children and babies cannot. When your children need you, take time off and return to your tasks later. Give yourself permission to take care of your family and don't feel guilty for doing so.

 Keep in touch with friends and family.

Technology can be a great way for children to keep in touch with friends and family and can help with feelings of isolation and anxiety. It can also help take pressure off you as the main carer when you're trying to work. You could:

  • set aside regular time for video calling to create a virtual classroom or playground

  • schedule a reading hour where a family member or friend listens to or reads with your children

  • have younger children draw what they've done each day and share their weekly diary on a video call.

It's important to talk to your children about keeping safe online and set up parental controls. You can find suitable social networks, apps and games for your children on Net Aware

Supporting your child at home

If your child wants to talk about coronavirus, encourage them to. Try to keep information simple, factual and communicate in a way that your child will understand. It's also important that all the adults in the child's life use the same message - it'll help build their confidence and reduce anxiety. Focus attention on positive stories about people working to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Actively listen to your child about what they're feeling or thinking about coronavirus. Using phrases like "I can hear you sound a bit anxious about that" helps them know you're listening and taking them seriously. Listening and praising them for sharing their worries can also help reduce anxiety.

Managing conflict and stress  

Conflict, stress and spending more time with another can cause arguments. And it can be difficult to keep children shielded from adult arguments when everyone is together most of the day. When children see us communicating well and staying calm, it can help them cope with big emotions. Arguments can be small or big – and some can be very serious.

If you feel yourself getting irritated or annoyed with your family and children, don't be too hard on yourself. This is a challenging time for lots of people and there are things you can do to help. Try counting to 10 and taking some deep breaths before reacting. You can also try:

  • talking about routines, chores, work, learning and how you can all share the spaces in your home

  • planning, if possible, for children and adults to spend time together one on one. And, plan some time apart, even if it's just time alone with headphones, in a different room or a walk by yourself. Take time to gather your thoughts and relax. We have advice if you're not sure if your child is old enough to stay home alone.

  • being kind to yourself and each other, thanking each other for the small things like keeping a room tidy, saying "good morning" or playing quietly

  • talking about your frustrations with friends and family. This can also help with feelings of isolation and loneliness

  • planning distractions outside of work and learning time to give different things to focus on. There might be some family projects you can do together, like looking at old photographs or growing seeds from vegetables and fruits you've eaten

  • Taking time to think about things you would like to do once lockdown ends