2020 was probably the strangest year in and out of parenting. We were locked down and separated from our loved ones. Partners were furloughed or worked to the bone. In some ways it was nice to be able to spend so much uninterrupted time with our Little Ones playing and bonding, but in so many ways our Little Ones worlds changed beyond belief.
I’ve been reflecting over the past year and thinking how things have changed for us.
Support or any classes were given online instead of face to face
I had to cancel classes that I had planned to run. The classes that I attend with my Little One were cancelled. Our whole schedule was rearranged over night and having to tell those new mummies that we couldn’t do our classes was heartbreaking. I love taking my Little One to groups so she can mix with other children and have lots of new experiences with me, so having to tell someone that they couldn’t come to my classes as I have had to cancel them, was devastating. It’s lucky we had Zoom to keep some kind of adult contact.
Many classes have closed
Unfortunately, some classes have had to close as they just couldn’t make it work so some parents in some areas are missing out on learning new skills and meeting other likeminded people in their area.
The support network has changed
They say it take a village to raise a child, but during lockdown it was just one or maybe two parents. Gone were the 5 minutes of peace where you could sit and have a cuppa while Grandparents played and kept Little One entertained. It was all video and phone calls that kept us in contact with the outside world. For any parent that just needs to speak to another adult this can be difficult as having a face to face conversation is always easier, especially if your Little One is climbing up and trying to get the phone off you. You couldn’t even pop in and see the Health Visitor as normal, and you had to phone and have a telephone appointment or eventually get to see them.
Some babies didn’t meet their grandparents straightaway or didn’t have grandparents for months on end
Cuddles and kisses are off limits (but you try not to tell your children too many times to stay away for fear of them not going back to normal). Older children may have understood a bit more but toddlers had no idea what was happening and babies missed out on the extra cuddles. Then things got even more trickier when we could start to see members from outside our household again, as children don’t understand social distancing.
Children have spent more time with parents (lots of quality time but sometimes too much)
Yes, it was lovely to spend so much time without rushing round, going here, there and everywhere with out Little Ones. We actually just played for a change. But sometimes it all got too much and 10 minutes away from each other was much needed. If you were like me, and your partner worked all the way through every lockdown, you are the one at home entertaining the children, it was sometimes a struggle. It can be hard work to entertain a child for months on end no matter what their age is. Our pushchair definitely repacked up some miles this year! All we needed at some points was (and to quote a favourite book in our house) 5 minutes peace!
It was the same for the children. My Little One couldn’t wait to see Daddy when he got home from work. Humans of any age need multiple interaction and stimulation. But I also found routine helped Little One and every afternoon we would go a walk on a nice little route I had found. Along the way we would find the horses or chickens on the allotments and this gave Little One something to look forward to.
Lots of people are now struggling with mental health issues
I heard recently that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic there is now a Mental Healthcare crisis and really this isn’t surprising. Whether you had children or not it’s been a tough time. All of us are used to mixing with different people in one way or another and even the quietest among us need interaction and conversation. Also having so much time on our hands gives us to much time to think sometimes and has maybe brought out worries or troubles from the past that people now need to start processing.
If you are feeling like you need any support or to talk to someone there are some amazing charities out there, such as Mind and Samaritans.
Or pop and see your GP as they can sometimes refer you or point you in the right direction.
Children have missed out on having fun with their friends
Children are even more social than adults and when you take away, school, nursery and parks they really miss other children and interaction with them.
The basic skills of friendship are formed during our early years, playing and exploring together, and the older we get the more we remember who these people are. Even at 2 my Little One remembers her little friends and tells us she wants to see them or her grandparents.
Masks how well children have adapted
I was thinking yesterday how well children have adapted to seeing us all now wearing face coverings. My 2 year old will remind you before you go into a shop to pop your mask on, even though she doesn’t wear one and the other day we were playing “shops” and I had to wear one in my own house as she wouldn’t serve me!
Obviously we have had times were Little One really doesn’t want us to wear our masks but we have just explained carefully that it is to keep us all safe.
The only worry I have with this is with Little Ones learning to read facial expressions and how the longer this carries on the harder it will become. A lot can be said for the look on someone’s face, and as the saying goes “if my mouth doesn’t say it, my face will”.
How have things changed in your parenting world?