Even at the best of times, parenting isn’t easy. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought numerous challenges to moms and dads around the world. From homeschooling and health concerns to financial worries and anxiety about the future, it has been difficult for many families.
These challenges have been especially daunting for many neurodiverse families. This is due to the significant changes in routines and less access to trusted support systems.
At Huggable, we take pride in developing strong relationships with our customers. We care deeply about how the changes brought about by COVID-19 have impacted the extended Huggable family.
Challenges and Unexpected Joys: What We Learned About Parenting During COVID-19
(A Guest Post from Huggable)
To learn more about our customers’ experiences, we surveyed hundreds of moms and dads, all with three children. Specifically, we heard from 538 parents. They told us about the unexpected joys of the last few months and the challenges they have had to face.
We learned a great deal from our survey, most of it very encouraging. We’d like to share the results of our research with you, the great readers of The Mom Kind!
Research finding #1: Moms are spending more time with their children
As a result of COVID-19, mothers are spending significantly more time with their children. On average, we found that moms are spending 49% more time with their children than they did before COVID-19.
This translates to an additional 3.9 hours per weekday. Mothers were previously spending 7.8 hours with their children on a typical weekday. Now, they are spending 11.7 hours a day with their children. Full-time working mothers reported the most significant increase in their children’s time, from 6.4 hours to 10.3 hours!
Although the closures of elementary schools and daycare centers have undeniably presented significant challenges, the upshot is that many families have found more time to play, cook, and share household chores.
With less time spent on daily commutes and driving between school and activities, many parents have been able to devote more time to creative play, physical exercise, and exploring their children’s budding interests.
Many families have been able to eat meals together on a more regular basis. Some parents have had the opportunity to experience developmental milestones firsthand that they might have missed if their child was at preschool or daycare.
Research finding #2: Moms have grown closer to their children
Although we weren’t particularly surprised to find out that many mothers are spending more time with their children due to working from home or changed employment circumstances, as well as school and daycare closures, we weren’t sure how that would translate to mothers’ feelings of closeness towards their children.
After all, while suddenly spending nearly four additional hours with one’s child every day can be a source of joy, it can also be overwhelming, especially for parents of multiple children or children with complex needs.
However, we were thrilled to learn that 63% of moms feel that they have grown either slightly or significantly closer to their children. This trend was particularly pronounced among mothers who work full-time, with 67% reporting that they now feel closer to their young children. For example, some mothers of babies and toddlers told us that they were getting the opportunity to breastfeed more regularly, rather than having to pump at work.
Furthermore, many parents told us that this had been a particular time for their families, with siblings of different ages spending more time together, discovering shared interests, and finding constructive ways to work through disagreements.
As a result of working from home, many fathers have been able to participate more regularly in family activities. Not only has this improved relationships between fathers and children but in many families, it has resulted in a more equitable split of childcare and household responsibilities.
Challenges and benefits for kids
As a result of our survey, we were inspired to learn more about how spending more time at home affects children. Missing out on favorite activities, not getting to see grandparents and other close relatives, and adjusting to remote learning have put some degree of stress on nearly all children.
Adapting to this “new normal” has undoubtedly posed unique obstacles for children on the autism spectrum. Many children have experienced increased anxiety due to the significant changes to their daily routines, lack of social interaction with friends, classmates, teachers, and concerns about the future.
However, numerous benefits and learning experiences have presented themselves as a result of increased time at home. Children are picking up on new vocabulary and developing their speech as a result of spending more time with their parents. They learn new skills at homes, such as cooking and gardening, and taking part in more physical activity with their parents, from hiking and cycling to tennis and yoga.
Despite the challenges and uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, this time has also taught children invaluable life skills, such as independent play, self-directed learning, creative thinking, compassion for others, and resilience.
As we wrote in our research report, although we are delighted to learn that so many families have benefited from increased time together, we certainly don’t want to minimize the grief and heartache that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about.
Many families are coping with unforeseen separations, financial uncertainty, and even the loss of loved ones. A significant proportion of both mothers and fathers have been working outside of the home throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They have not been able to enjoy any additional time with their families. Some parents working in the healthcare field have had to keep away from their children to minimize risk.
We want to recognize the sacrifices and contributions of all families during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope that our research findings will bring some renewed optimism. That we’ve provided positivity about how families have coped and even thrived during this difficult time.