Parents fear that lockdown has seriously impacted their children’s ability to socialise and feel anxious about seeing other families managing better than them as COVID-19 restrictions ease, according to new research.
In the study of 1,005 UK mums with children aged five or under by baby brand Kendamil, over a third (37%) admitted to worrying about their little one’s lack of social skills.
Parents of children under two years old were the most concerned; 42% of new mums with a baby born during the pandemic (under 12 months old) said they feel anxious about their child’s absence of social skills. Similarly, 43% of mums with a one-year-old are uneasy.
Almost a third (30%) said the prospect of public temper tantrums causes them anxiety, while a further 30% said they were worried they had forgotten how to socialise themselves. Almost a quarter of mums (24%) are nervous about seeing other parents managing better than them.
Respondents were asked whether they thought the pandemic has had an impact on parenting – a slim 16% felt that it hadn’t. Interestingly, 42% said it has had a positive impact while the same number (42%) feel the impact has been negative.
Of those whose experience was negative, 69% attributed it to missing out on bonding time with grandparents. Sixty three percent (63%) blamed not being able to arrange playdates, 59% said it was because the child missed out on the sensory benefits of exploring outdoors and 50% felt the negative impact was due to the lack of in-person antenatal or baby / toddler classes.
Top 5 parenting struggles during lockdown
- Lost bonding time with grandparents or other family members
- Not being able to arrange playdates
- Child missed out on sensory benefits of exploring outdoors
- No in-person antenatal or baby/toddler classes
- Lack of family support
Of those who experienced a positive change during the pandemic, 55% said this was due to being able to spend more time with their child and nearly a third (30%) were happy that they have been home to witness more ‘firsts’.
One in four mums (25%) said they used lockdown as an excuse to limit visitors, while 46% enjoyed the quality time they were able to spend in their bubble.
One in five (22%) of those surveyed said less social interaction over the past year has made them more relaxed about not having to justify feeding choices, and another one in five (21%) said the same about not having to justify their decisions about sleep routines.
Top 5 silver linings for parents during the pandemic
- Spending more time with children
- Enjoying more quality time in your ‘bubble’
- Eating more meals as a family
- Noticing more about children’s personality
- Being around for more of the ‘firsts’
When asked what they are most looking forward to as the UK gets back to normal, 40% of mums said it was building the bond between their child and their grandparents, as well as other family members and friends. Nearly half (47%) can’t wait for their child to be exposed to more social situations and 50% say they are looking forward to their child getting to play with other kids. Forty-five percent are counting down the days until they can do something other than ‘the daily walk’ while 49% look forward to family day trips and holidays.
Kendamil CEO Ross McMahon commented on the findings: ‘It’s alarming to discover that the traumatic year we’ve had during the pandemic is going to have an effect on our children as we come out of lockdown and beyond. “Coronnials” risk being the most introverted generation in decades.’
To help parents feel confident getting out and about, Kendamil has created a series of guides, such as tips on helping develop your child’s social skills and how to pack for a day trip with a baby.
Ross McMahon continued: ‘Based on the survey results, we predict family bonds, good friends and communities of like-minded parents will become an even more treasured part of the crazy but rewarding journey that is parenthood.’
Top 10 pandemic parenting coping strategies
- Allowed their child more screen time
- Used on-demand channels such as Netflix and Prime a lot to pass the time
- Ate junk food
- Spent more time on social media than usual
- Considered chores as ‘me time’
- Let the bedtime routine slide
- Hid in the bathroom for some peace
- Told their child Santa was still coming – socially distanced – so they behaved
- Joined online groups and communities
- Drank more alcohol than usual