Published on 
July 22, 2021

Parenting in the Pandemic

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Parents currently living with young kids are living through highs and lows that they couldn’t have possibly imagined. The last year has certainly been one for the history books, in terms of family structure and parenting dynamics, and there is so much that future generations can learn from these trying experiences. The trouble is that most parents today are too exhausted from “juggling it all” to have any time to document their experiences: balancing full time jobs with homeschooling, as well as finding time to comfort and protect their children during these uncertain times. 


Thankfully, many content creators are helping to record their experiences of pandemic parenting to share with others. Across different formats, parents are using content to offer support, advice and the tips and tricks that they’ve come to personally rely on over the past 12 months. 


Here we dive into some of those trends to better understand what parents across the world have been struggling with during the past year: 


Homeschooling 

With the closure of schools, parents had to learn how to educate their kids overnight (and gained a whole lot more appreciation for the teaching profession in the process). 


In September 2020, The Atlantic reported: 

Homeschooling organizations and consultants have faced a deluge of panicked parents frantic to find alternatives to regular school. Some families hate the idea of their kids sitting on Zoom for hours at a time. Others worry about exposing family members to the coronavirus or seeing schools close suddenly after a surge in cases. Although some of these parents will likely put their kids back in school once the pandemic is under control, homeschooling advocates see this period as an unlikely opportunity to evangelize their way of life, which they describe as more flexible, creative, and adaptable to each student than traditional school. 


Pam Barnhill is a homeschooling veteran, and has been sharing her advice on the subject for the past 6 years through her podcasts The Homeschool Snapshots Podcast and Your Morning Basket. Last month, she published a special edition of her podcast with Jean Burke, looking at how the pandemic helped to normalize homeschooling, meaning that this style of education may be with us for the long run: 

The 2020 pandemic forced everyone to “home educate” in some form or another. Surprisingly, numerous studies are showing that around 40% of families will continue even after the lockdowns are over. Yes, health may be a big concern but that’s not the main reason. 

Here is the content trend for “homeschooling” over the past five years. 


YouTuber Emily Norris is one of many parents that was forced to grapple with homeschooling for the first time last March. She documents her family’s first foray into homeschooling with the video HOMESCHOOL PREP - GET IT ALL DONE | DAY IN THE LIFE | EMILY NORRIS on March 20, 2020: 


On Jun 29, 2020, Emily released a video titled HOW'S MATT COPING? HOMESCHOOLING HACK & DAY IN THE LIFE VLOG discussing how her attitude to homeschooling had changed over the course the year: 

At the beginning of lockdown I genuinely thought this staying home thing and homeschooling would last for maybe four weeks or five weeks and it was very exciting at the beginning. It was very novel, but now we are well over three months in and it is our new reality. We are having to homeschool the boys every day and try to work alongside them. 


On  Jan 6, 2021, Emily broached the topic yet again in her video IT'S WAY TOO MUCH! 😬 DAY 1 OF HOMESCHOOLING, AGAIN..,

We're back to homeschooling here, until the February half term.  They're saying we're homeschooling at least until then at the moment so it's back with a bang and it feels really different this time obviously now it's winter so we don't have like the lovely sunshine that we had in the first school lockdown and the school has obviously had time to plan for this so online learning is a lot more advanced like the teacher's email last night was like how it's gonna go. They have like a full schedule like a full day of online learning which to be honest I just don't know how it's gonna go. We'll see what it's like today. Seeing the first school lockdown we were like going for walks and we were like you know doing some fun things that we ordered in and stuff and I just don't know how like being on the screen from nine to three is gonna go. So hopefully I'm hoping that the teachers are going to be like “This is your lesson, can you go off and do that now,” and they don't have to actually sit there the entire time on the screen, but anyway, let's see how it goes. 


Emily’s videos reflect the journey of many families and their relationship with homeschooling during the pandemic: from excitement at the novelty, to a sense of frustration once that novelty wore off, to numerous concerns about how this break from normal schooling will affect their children’s education in the long run. 

Talking to kids about the coronavirus 

When adults are scared and confused by the uncertainty of the global pandemic, it’s not surprising that those fears and anxieties will rub off on the kids. 

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reported that between March and October 2020, the number of visits to emergency rooms in the US by children under 18 due to mental health reasons was 44% higher than the same period in 2019. 

Brian Lehrer based an episode of his podcast The Brian Lehrer Show around Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus. In the episode Jessica Grose, lead editor of NYT Parenting, joined as a guest to offer advice for answering common questions from children about the virus, following an article that Grose had written about this topic. 
 

In her article, Grose consulted with “a pediatrician, two psychologists, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and a safety expert” and advised the following approach: 

Don’t dismiss your child’s fears. If your child is afraid because some kid on the bus told him he might die, that’s a real fear and you should take it seriously... You can also relay an anecdote from your own childhood about a time when you were scared. Then, after the child has calmed down, perhaps over dinner, you can bring up coronavirus again.


UNSW, the official YouTube  channel of UNSW Sydney, published a video on the same topic on March 19 2020, featuring Dr Ariana Krynen from UNSW Science, providing her top tips on talking to children about the current crisis. 

 

In order to help parents to offer kids some kind of explanation about what was happening in the world around them, the Eurac Research channel released a short and simple video animation to teach children about the science behind the virus, and explain to them why they were being asked to stay home. 


Working from home… with kids

The closures of offices have provided parents with a whole new set of challenges, chief of which is performing their full time jobs around the demands of looking after their children. Kids are not ideal coworkers, and many content creators were transparent about the myriad struggled of trying to perform professionally with young kids in the background.  

Trend report for content surrounding working at home with kids. 


Living Rosa documented the struggle of trying to work from home with her kids around her in her video WORKING FROM HOME WITH KIDS on Aug 10, 2020. 


Pat Flynn offered up some of his personal  tips and tricks as a father of a 10 and 7 year old for how he manages to stay productive in his video Working from Home with Kids 😐 - Best Strategies for Parents & Entrepreneurs on July 8, 2020.


In this video, Pat shares the following advice: 

Probably the hardest thing about working with kids is they're gonna interrupt your day. There's no working around that, literally my kids can walk in right now. I've learned a thing or two about getting back into work mode because getting interrupted can
completely derail you but getting back into work mode is the trick. The big trick is if you happen to be interrupted (and maybe it's not your kids maybe it's something else that happens), think to yourself before you address that ‘What's the first thing I'm gonna do when I get back?’ That way you just have that being remembered and you can pick up right where you left off. That transition time can often be 40% of our day where you're not being productive, so thinking about what you're gonna get back into is really key. 


This constant juggling of work and parenting brings with it inevitable stresses. We analysed 50 parenting podcasts, and saw a steady increase in language relating to keywords such as “juggling work”, “work stress” and “career anxiety”. 


Many of these podcasts strive to offer parents with coping mechanisms to handle this stress before it overwhelms them. One example is Real Happy Mom Podcast - Time-Management, Gentle Parenting, & Self-Care Strategies for the Busy Working Mom! and the episode they released on September 8, 2020. 


Host Toni-Ann Mayembe explains: 

If you are struggling with trying to get it all done with limited time. Or maybe you are frazzled and overwhelmed trying to keep all of the plates of life spinning at the same, it's time to look at how you spend your time. In particular, with time blocking. Time blocking is scheduled flexibility. Which means you have a plan. Because when you are working from home and have a lot going on, instead of choosing to be reactive and feel defeated because you haven’t gotten anything done, you can be proactive.


The funny side of things

Infuriating though they might be, kids are also pretty damn funny. Despite the struggles of the past year, many parents are also able to see the funny side of the new reality that has been foisted upon them.  Digiday asked readers to share their “funniest, or most exasperating, moments of remote working with kids in tow”, with some hilarious results. Here is one of the best: 


Patrick Affleck, Havas Media Group CEO U.K. and Ireland: 
I vividly remember being midway through a business operations call with the executive team when my son (5) appeared at the bathroom door —  which is opposite my makeshift home office — and yelled: “Daddy, can you come and wipe my bum please!” It was much harder for us all to focus after that.

Is there a particular content trend you’d like to track? Get in touch and we can work with you to use our data to put any trend in context. 


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