Child working from home, parental guilt at all-time high

Parental guilt at all-time high in lockdown research shows

Parents are feeling more guilty than ever this lockdown due to the added pressures brought on by Covid-19 new research shows.

Families have been home-schooling and entertaining their children while balancing jobs, resulting in three quarters of UK parents experiencing guilt over their childrearing skills.

The study conducted by MyNametags, a leading British label manufacturer, found the most common cause of parental guilt is screen time, as almost half of parents feel their children have too much.

Women are more likely to suffer from parental guilt, with mums being afflicted eight times more than dads on average.  

Parents said they feel guilty about how bored their children are, how they’re unable to see relatives and how they must stay indoors, while 10% even admitted to not enjoying the extra time they are getting to spend with their children.

Home-schooling was also found to be a key stressor as 25% feel guilty about not teaching their children properly.

Government statistics back up these findings, as it was revealed that more than half of parents think their children are struggling with education at home.

The study is also supported by research done by the University of Oxford which discovered that the strains of lockdown have worsened parental mental health.

Carol Robinson, an event manager, entrepreneur, and mum from Norwich, said: “It’s been a real corona-coaster of a year and it’s normal to feel guilty if you’re trying to do it all.”

Ms Robinson quit her job at an advertising agency in London before launching her empowering jewellery brand for women, One of a Kind Club, in 2019.

Six months later the pandemic hit and she had to take on home-schooling duties for her seven-year-old son and two-year-old daughter, putting business plans on hold.

She said: “I’ve had kind of business guilt because it’s like what’s the priority of things? I feel bad if I’m working, but I feel bad if I kind of ignore the company as it is my main passion.

“I didn’t leave behind a solid career to launch it for everything to go wrong and I’m also on a big mission to inspire confidence through my brand.”

Ms Robinson often finds herself working in the middle of the night or early in the mornings before her children wake up to be able to fit in work while teaching her children.

She’s also been helping her son, who has been struggling with his writing skills, by inventing creative tasks for him, such as writing a letter to an astronaut, to put the fun back into learning.

She said: “When I’m trying to be ‘supermum’ you have to be realistic about what you can achieve.

“I’m not a trained teacher, so you’ve kind of got to go well actually you can’t have it all, the pandemic is what it is.

“If I can make my son smile and write a letter to an astronaut then I’ve done quite well.”

Findings of the study also show that 33% of parents think they don’t spend enough quality time with their children and 32% feel bad for not playing enough with them.

Attempting to find the time to work, care for children and balance the other demands of life in lockdown can take a toll on parents.

Dom Hodgson, a businessman based in Leeds, said: “It’s heart-breaking when your kid is sat in front of you wanting to play and you have to work.

“My wife and I run our own business and take it in turns to educate and entertain whilst the other works but it’s still difficult, you feel everything is at 25%.”

Ivana Poku, a maternal mental health advocate and life coach, says parents should stop multitasking and tell a boss or supervisor if they’re struggling to manage everything.  

She said: “Try to find the best solution that works for you both. There’s no good in hiding your emotions or pretending you’re ok if you’re not. If you find things difficult, be open and honest.”

In terms of home-schooling, Ms Poku thinks parents should remember to be realistic about what they can teach and shouldn’t feel guilty if their children are having more screen time.

She said: “You are not a qualified teacher and no one expects you to provide a full education to your children.

“You can certainly have activities where your child learns, but your focus is your job, and survival.

“Don’t forget that you’re a human. You always do your best with the resources you have available.

“We are only human and always have our children’s best interests in mind in everything we do. What more could you possibly do?”

With schools across England set to re-open from March 8, home-schooling might not go on for much longer, but the effects of lockdown will be visible for both parents and children.

Photo courtesy of MyNametags

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