Being a parent in a pandemic isn't something any of us could have expected or prepared for. It can be lonely, overwhelming, and very tiring. First time mums are facing a big change without friends and family for support. Families with older children are acting as teachers whilst school is closed, keeping their children company when they miss their friends, trying to make nutritious meals despite a lack of ingredients, reminding children to wash their hands, stopping siblings from fighting, and working hard to keep their family safe from covid-19.
Shoreditch Trust’s Bump Buddies support pregnant women and new mums. Here are 5 top tips from the women and staff at the project, for anyone who is parenting during lockdown. This article was first written for 'Pigeon Pages' - an insert in Hackney Today to support our community during the covid-19 pandemic.
You can use technology to keep in touch with family and friends, but it's also great for connecting with other parents. Lots of local charities are running online parent and baby groups during the pandemic, from the Hackney Playbus weekly songs and play sessions to the Bump Buddies weekly coffee morning on zoom (babies like looking at other babies, even online!). One local mum explained to us:
“Being stuck in the house as a single parent with a child is very challenging. But thanks to the internet my baby and I are part of lots of interactive play meetings. It’s so nice to see a familiar face, even online. I wish I could hug everyone on the chat, and I miss having a place to go to feel empathy in times of need, but through the online meetings I have been given amazing advice on things from the effects of teething to eczema control.“
“Since the pandemic, our lives have been tough and challenging. One of my family has health problems, so our usual daily routine has been badly affected. We cannot go shopping, or to the park, we’re staying in one small space and it’s is extremely difficult.”
Many parents are finding losing the routine of nursery or school hard. Having a loose schedule for the day can help us feel more motivated and in control. You could focus on making sure your children get a few hours of learning in each day (games can also teach children great things) or set a treat time each day for yourself or your children. Keeping your child’s bedtime routine can also help you both:
“Getting her to bed is still a challenge. I try to make it special by holding back her favourite book until she’s on her way to the skies. ‘Good Night Moon’ by Margaret Wise Brown has become our special way of saying good night and closing our day.”
If you can, then make time to get outside, most babies love buggy rides and research shows that exercise can help us feel good.
If you can’t go out then there are lots of ways you can play at home. If you don’t have a lot of money for new toys then there are some great free toy ideas from Hackney Playbus on YouTube. One mum told us:
“I made hand puppets from old socks. My baby loves them, she gets excited, clapping her hands and rolling from her side to her back.”
Many mums take care of everyone else in the family before thinking about themselves, but as a parent, taking care of yourself is important.
Even if you can only take your morning shower, or a few minutes over a cup of tea, take that time to focus on you, and enjoy that little bit of time to yourself.
Remember that it’s ok to be human, have a bad day, get things wrong, or find something hard. You are doing your best for you and your family, and you cannot do any more than that!
Bump Buddies supports pregnant women and new mums in Hackney. A team of vounteers – all experienced local mums – can help women thinking about birth preferences, feeding choices, and the first few months with a baby. There is extra support for women and families who are homeless, have health problems, are dealing with problems at home or facing immigration issues.
Get in touch for more support.