COVID-19 shook up many things in our day to day routines but nothing was perhaps quite as disruptive as the concept of homeschooling our kids. Many parents had to juggle ensuring their children still got a decent education with the pressures of their own jobs and this shift made an impact on how stay-at-home parents are perceived.
Managing little ones all day is in itself a 9–5 job and a poll of over 1,000 parents by Legal and General discovered that many working parents (65%) have a newfound respect for those who choose to stay at home. With all childcare options taken away and contact with family and friends who could play babysitter limited, it was a tough year for many.
However, for those parents who suddenly became teachers overnight due to the pandemic, they discovered that they could shape their kids’ education as they saw fit, placing more emphasis on outdoor play and nature than perhaps school ever would. Social skills in the home could be developed and technology utilised to ensure kids still had access to their friends and family.
This shift has now resulted in a rise of the ‘working from home parent’. Many parents have seen this as an opportunity to spend more time with their kids and to make their working hours work for them. Businesses are now also moving towards a more flexible working format after discovering that lo and behold, their staff would continue just as productively if they were at home.
Kids will also benefit from a mixed approach from a ‘working-from-home’ parent. They’ll get to enjoy more time with Mum or Dad when the school day is over, but also still benefit from the social interactions with other children and a curriculum-led education in a classroom.
Legal and General’s poll also discovered that the financial cost of nursery was something many parents struggled with pre-Covid but they were able to cope with working from home and supporting their kids – all while saving money.
While working from home with kids isn’t ideal for everyone, it can be a blessing for those who have been shelling out money on nursery bills before lockdown. And with the average cost of childcare coming in at £263 hours a week full time and £138 for part-time, it’s no wonder parents are looking for an alternative.
It’s safe to say that stay-at-home parents are no longer shunned as individuals who aren’t contributing to society. Parents who experienced lockdowns with kids soon came to realise how much of an escape their office once was. But this doesn’t mean they’re ready to switch back straight away.
As the Government proposes longer school days for kids to play catch up after a strained year of education, parents will continue to adjust and embrace this new way of working and life. But they also won’t take for granted those quiet moments when the kids are at school or in daycare.
However, it’s also encouraged that newfound respect for those already staying at home with their kids and for themselves, as they made it through a particularly stressful and trying year.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.