There’s no doubt that the pandemic caused major changes to our way of life, and that includes the way we bring up our children. Parents suddenly found themselves adding yet another hat to their repertoire – home-school teacher. For those who were working from home too, this was an extra plate to spin, alongside fretting over increased screen time among our children, our mental well-being, and more. It hasn’t been easy by any means!
Luckily, there’s a silver lining to all that hardship – new studies show that it might have actively improved our parenting methods.
In the UK, the time spent on developmental childcare soared by 169 per cent during the pandemic, and parents have noted that, despite the difficulties of the past year, they have found childcare more enjoyable.
Whether you’re a mum-to-be getting your hospital bag checklist ready or a new parent caring for a new-born, the last 16 months has been a process of parenting evolution for us all. The lessons we learnt are to shape the future of parenting.
Lesson #1: Quality time
One of the most unexpected benefits of lockdown was the surge of quality time it gave parents and children. Since we were living our lives from the confines of our own homes, parents and children had a lot more one-on-one time. Of course, many parents would argue that this was 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! Overall, parents have been embracing this extra bonding time though.
For new mums, the chance to bond with their new-born has been a blessing. 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 around the house.
Lesson #2: Gender roles are a thing of the past
With such a huge shift in parenting, fathers in particular have benefited from more involvement than ever before. Although gender roles have shifted over the years anyway, 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 is definitely something to carry on beyond 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.
Of course, it hasn’t all been good news. 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 are something that we can leave behind us after the pandemic.
Lesson #3: Parents united
The pandemic taught parents all over the world that it’s okay to say when things are getting tough. Often, parents can get caught up in competitiveness with other parents. 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.
Everyone had to adjust to a new world, and in many ways, it highlighted the importance of helping each other. Lockdowns led to communities and families coming together, whether that be over video calls, through socially distanced meetups, 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 you’d like, 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.
The pandemic taught us all several valuable lessons when it comes to parenting. 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.