Parenting during COVID-19 has brought so many challenges for us all over the last year, whether we are first time parents or have several children. There is certainly no ‘typical’ family or right way to do it, we’re all struggling through and trying to make things work in the best way we can. One thing you can be sure of is that you’re doing great!
If you‘re a first time parent, bringing your much longed for baby into the world with all these restrictions throughout your antenatal care, birth and postnatal care have been really difficult. It has left many parents feeling really isolated and worrying if they’re doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way. Not being able to seek reassurance from health professionals, friends or family can be really tough and if you’re feeling a bit low, tired and frustrated this is all totally normal.
It’s natural to feel like you’re struggling when we’re all in the same house together day after day, even when we’re not in a global pandemic, but with lots of things competing for our attention such as looking after your baby, home-schooling, working from home, toilet training, sibling relationships and making sure everyone has clean socks and pants, it’s only natural that every now again it’s all going to feel just too much. It’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself to be doing everything really well all of the time. Some days all the schoolwork may get done and no housework and vice versa – one advantage of being in lockdown is that no one is going to see your huge pile of laundry or that you’ve not hoovered for a week! The most important thing to remember is that you’re doing a great job juggling all these different priorities.
It can be useful to make a list of exactly what NEEDS to be done each day and to just focus on these rather than trying to do everything, anything else can wait. It’s a great way to stop going over and over things in your mind and it’s very satisfying ticking them off. Also include yourself and your partner in these daily lists e.g. Mum 30-minute daily walk, Dad 30-minute cycle, Mum bath on her own 7:30 Wednesday evening, or chat with Jan 15 minutes on Friday evening. These can give you things to look forward to and keep you going through what can seem like very long days. Getting outside even for half an hour can have huge benefits for your mental health and helps improve your child’s brain development. Even a 30-mintue walk with your baby in their buggy can help you feel less stressed and improve your mood. Seeing trees, hearing the birds and smelling new smells are also great for your child’s development and may encourage them to sleep if you are struggling to get them off for a nap. If you have an older child, why not pick up some sticks and leaves and make a little collage or do some leaf rubbing when you get home? Adding regular outdoor time to your daily routine can help you feel that you are getting a break away from your computer if you are working from home or just away from the same four walls.
Child Development and Advice
There are lots of services available for new parents and those that have had a baby in the last year to help you feel connected and get lots of advice and support when you need it. Lewisham Health Visitors are still working and available to parents with children 0-5 years. Their website has lots of information on useful topics such as vaccinations, child development, safe sleeping and feeding.
For support, advice or concerns about your child’s development, please send the Health Visiting Team a message via myhv.lgt.nhs.uk/contact/ or call the admin hub on 02030491873
Remember that we have lots of advice sessions, coffee mornings and activities via Zoom available from our skilled teams of Early Years Practitioners and Outreach Workers where you can find out lots of information, meet other new parents and ask questions about topics that you’re interested in. Access our timetable here.
This is a great set of short videos narrated by celebrities such as Olivia Coleman, Romesh Ranganathan and Rob Brydon (and my favourite Danny Dyer) help with topics such as: Getting your child to follow instructions, Keeping calm when your child acts up, Using sanctions carefully and Helping your child to cope with anxiety.
Triple P also have lots of resources to help get you through their Hot Parenting Topics can help you with such as: they won’t go to bed and temper tantrums,
The Imagination Tree Stay at Home Survival Guide is also really great
The past few months have been particularly difficult if your child has a Special Educational Need or Disability (SEND). Services are still operating but in a very different way.
- Find out more about Lewisham SEND services here.
Drumbeat Outreach Service also has some great resources is your child has ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
If you or a family member are really struggling with your mental health please do get support. No one will feel that you’re “wasting their time” or that “there are other people worse off than me”. Every Mind Matters is a great resource.
If you need urgent mental health support please do call the Samaritans on their FREE 24 hour helpline number 116 123.
Or if you and your children are not feeling safe during this time and are experiencing domestic abuse, you can find out more about services available here.
Remember, you are doing a great job and we can’t wait to see you all in our centres when we can.