Back and forth of Covid-19 restrictions putting strain on parents with young children: Focus on the Family poll
by Christine Leow // September 27, 2021, 9:11 pm
Work-from-home (WFH) and home-based learning (HBL) add to the stress of parents with young children, finds Focus on the Family poll ahead of Children's Day. Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels.
As this week begins, we are back to work-from-home (WFH) as default mode and home-based learning (HBL) for primary school kids.
For Eeleen Lin, 38, a stay-home mother with four children, all under the age of 10, it is a roller-coaster ride of managing home and school work again. Every time Covid-19 cases rise, causing workers and students to hunker down at home, her family goes through major adjustments.
Said Eeleen: “Parenting is a full-on job and Covid certainly intensifies it. We’re together a lot more and there are more meals, chores and play – all happening at home.”
She is not alone in feeling the strain.
Covid stress affects families
The extended Covid situation has left parents in Singapore stretched, having to get involved in their children’s work while managing their own work even as they navigate restrictions that impinge on family routine.
Less than half reported experiencing positive emotions when their child wanted their attention.
This was one of the findings from an online poll conducted by Focus on the Family Singapore (FOTF). Some 175 parents with children aged between five and eight were involved.
More than three-quarters (70%) of parents polled felt they were too busy to enjoy quality time with their children. One in four felt annoyed or stressed when their child demanded their attention while one in four felt tired or worried about work when doing fun activities with their children.
Less than half (48%) reported experiencing positive emotions when their child wanted their attention. Up to 71% of parents acknowledged that they might not be getting parenting right. On the bright side, they said they were learning together with their children.
When asked what came to mind when they thought about parenting, three in five parents (58%) had happy thoughts. Two in five (44%) felt worried. Parenting, it would appear from poll findings, is more of a mixed bag of joys and challenges than before.
Happy parents, happy children
As parents come under increased pressure because of Covid-related concerns and are burdened by constantly shifting arrangements, some may struggle to cope with their own feelings of weariness and anxiety. This might result in an inability to be attuned to their children’s emotional needs.
Well aware of this, Eeleen makes sure she takes care of herself even as she cares for her family.
“Quality of parent-child relationships is a key developmental asset to protect against mental health issues.”
“To stay sane, I try to seize pockets of time for a date with my husband or to unwind on my own whenever I have childcare help.
“When I am not caught up in the stress of the moment, I have time to reflect and be grateful for the ways my kids are growing and slowly responding to our efforts to shape their character and values.”
CEO of FOTF, Joanna Koh-Hoe, said: “Research has shown that the quality of parent-child relationships is a key developmental asset to protect against mental health issues.
“The early years of a child is one of the most important windows to build strong parent-child connections that shape the child’s confidence and boost their resilience.”
Capture the Wonder for Children’s Day
To help parents, FOTF has launched a campaign leading up to Children’s Day (October 8). Dubbed Capture the Wonder and sponsored by NTUC FairPrice Foundation, the campaign runs from September 24 till October 10.
“Capture the Wonder hopes to provide some practical tools for parents to practise intentionality.”
Said Mrs Koh-Hoe: “While coming alongside parents in the struggles they face during this season, Focus on the Family Singapore also hopes to encourage them to rekindle the joys of their unique journey as they work out their own rhythm of personal responsibilities, self-care and time with their child.
“As a mum myself, I can identify with the stress that parents undergo.
“Capture the Wonder hopes to provide some practical tools for parents to practise intentionality, set their phones – and worries – aside, and delight in their children once again.”
Included is a specially developed e-guide titled The Wonder Guide: How to Make the Most of Quality Time with Your Child. The guide, complimentary to the first 1,000 parents, has hacks for parents hoping to connect with their children, practical tips to support their children’s developmental needs, conversation starters and easy-to-do activities.
“We might discover that our emotional capacity to care for our loved ones is actually a wonderful renewable resource.”
Also part of the campaign is a fun Instagram filter that will be released closer to Children’s Day. The filter prompts get-to-know-you questions such as: “Who is quicker to comfort someone?” or “Who gives tighter hugs?”
This gives families the opportunity to record amusing responses while having a good laugh together. The hope is that family bonds, which children need to feel secure with their parents, will be strengthened as a result.
Added Mrs Koh-Hoe: “By learning to see the beauty and wonder in what we have – even in the smallest, most ordinary of moments – we might discover that our emotional capacity to care for our loved ones is actually a wonderful renewable resource that never runs out, even when we feel we’re at the end of the rope.”
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