COVID-19 and parents, children and young people

 Nicky Hughes 3 Jul 2020

This week has seen a big step in Wales as we move towards the “new normal”, with the re-opening of schools. Whilst many looked forward to the schools re-opening, to gain some normality, for others the sessional attendance adds another complexity to an already chaotic world.

Being a parent is one of the most rewarding and challenging things I have ever done. My daughter is 16 and would have sat her GCSEs last month if it hadn’t been for the COVID-19 pandemic. From a family perspective, I am lucky that my experience of working at home has been relatively stress-free. As my hubby has been on furlough, I’ve been the one that has been looked after in order for me to undertake my role in RCN Wales.

I appreciate, however, that many parents have struggled with the day-to-day organisation and with balancing family and work life. Many nurses and carers working long hours have felt an emotional impact of working and sending children to the hubs, where they may not be with their friends and where there is a risk that they may contract the virus. Alternatively, many of those parents working at home have struggled with juggling the roles of employee, child carer and teacher, perhaps feeling that they have achieved none of these adequately.

We are hearing that COVID-19 and the lockdown has had a detrimental effect on the mental health of children and young people as routines have been lost and they have been isolated from their friends and wider family.

This is the story shared by one of my colleagues. Her daughter is 12 years old and very mature for her age, but she believes that the pandemic has taken a toll on her mental health. In the beginning her daughter enjoyed the novelty of having lie-ins and flexibility around schoolwork, but as lockdown progressed and she lost her daily routine, she became irritable. She missed her friends and her independence away from her parents. There were occasions when she broke down and said she wanted to go to sleep until everything was normal again.

My colleague talked about how it was difficult to give her daughter the attention she needed whilst trying to work at home. She did, however, manage to confide in other parents and gain support. She found that most of these parents reported similar issues, although each family’s circumstance is different – and especially hard for those caring for children with additional needs. My colleague’s daughter was able to access a hub and she says that she liked getting back to a routine and spending time with other children. She is enjoying life again.

View NHS information about caring for children and young people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I think all parents can take a bow for hanging on in there and for the fabulous roles you do, both at home and in work. And a big clap for our children and young people, who have had to adapt to this crazy world. It will get better!

I would be interested to hear stories from parents/carers about how you’ve managed during this difficult time. Tweet me - @nichughes1 – or email Communications.Wales@rcn.org.uk.

Nicky Hughes

Associate Director of Nursing (Employment Relations) RCN Wales

Nicky has 30 years experience of working in the NHS in the specialities of inpatient acute medicine and the community setting, where she managed frontline services such as District Nursing, Prison Nursing, and those caring for the homeless and asylum seekers. In addition she commissioned care from the nursing home sector.

Page last updated - 03/07/2020