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Friday, 29th May 2020

Barnardos survey reveals impact of lockdown on family Life

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The children’s charity Barnardos has called on the Government to strongly consider the needs of children and parents during the phased re-opening of the country.

A survey carried out by Barnardos has found that 84% of children are missing their friends, 68% miss school, 53% are having more difficulty with their bedtime routine, and 38% are experiencing more tantrums and outbursts. 

The findings also show that those parenting alone, and those with children under the age of 10 reported feeling the most pressure of the COVID 19 restrictions.  

Parents reported less sleep (1 in 3), less exercise (1 in 3), and worrying about the health of family members (1 in 2) as contributing to this stress.   

Barnardos CEO Suzanne Connolly said: “…This survey primarily highlighted the challenges faced by families during the COVID19 restrictions.  Parents report that the majority of children miss their friends and school, and that children are having more difficulty than usual at bedtime with many experiencing more tantrums and outbursts.

“The survey tells us that for 1 in 3 lone parents, and those with younger children, the restrictions are having a more negative impact, both on the parent and the child. One parent commented: “As a single parent I feel judged when leaving my house with the children.” Families with younger children reported the need for additional support (15%).

“The lack of childcare support is a huge contributor to this stress and hundreds of respondents reported that trying to balance parenting and working at home added a lot of pressure to the household – one respondent told us: “A lot more work for mothers with everyone at home and trying to keep the peace and accommodate everyone’s needs, working from home, studying, in need of mental health support.”

Suzanne Connolly continued: “However, half of families reported being satisfied or extremely satisfied with family life in general.  Some families noted how the restrictions have allowed them to stop, take stock of what is important and to spend quality time together.”

Key findings

Impact on children

  • Of families with children under 18, 1,453 (84%) reported their children missed seeing their friends
  • 1,173 (68%) reported that their child misses school. Of those:
    • 53% reported that implementing bedtime routines was more difficult than usual
    • 38% were experiencing more tantrums or outbursts from their child
    • 38% of parents were struggling to implement house rules
    • 33% reported their child was arguing more with them
    • 31% reported their child having more pent up energy
    • 28% reported their child to be fighting more with siblings
  • Children were reportedly more concerned about family members contracting Covid-19, than they were about themselves contracting the virus (459, 27% compared to 277, 16%).

One respondent, a grandmother, commented: “The boys are extremely stressed… they are terrified I will be infected by them or others and will die. The total focus everywhere on the virus is really upsetting children, irrespective of their circumstances. It is adding stress.  My grandsons wrote emails to me a week ago begging me not to go out or speak to anyone…children need reassurance at all levels.” 

Lone parents and those with young children

  • 667 (25%) survey respondents reported feeling sad or low. Those ‘co-parenting but living apart’ or ‘lone parents’ were most likely to report feeling sad or low (31% and 28% respectively).
  • 1,026 (38%) reported feeling down about not seeing friends and again more ‘co-parenting but living apart’ or ‘lone parents’ reported this (51% and 43% respectively).
  • 1,410 (53%) respondents were worried about other family members health and this was fairly consistent across family structure, although lone parents were most likely to be worried about others health (58%).
  • 825 (31%) of all respondents reported exercising less. 36% of lone parents were exercising less, compared to 30% of co-habiting couples.
  • Families with younger children were more likely to report the need of additional support - 15% of those with children aged 0-5 and 12% of those with children aged 6-10. This compares to 8% with families with teenagers.

Lack of childcare

  • Of families with children under 18, 241 (14%) reported the lack of childcare support was causing stress in the home. This was particularly true for parents with children aged 0-5 (31%).
  • Of families with children under 18, 532 respondents (31%) reported that balancing parenting with working from home had added a lot of pressure to family home. This was most likely among cohabiting couples (34%), compared to lone parents (19%). 

To find out more about Barnardos work during the COVID19 crisis visit


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