The majority of parents are showing warning signs of burnout as they struggle to cope with the impact of the pandemic, a survey suggests.
Parents feel like they are “drowning” and are “isolated” because of a lack of support during the past 18 months, Action for Children charity has been told.
More than four in five (82%) of parents say they are struggling with at least one of the warning signs that may indicate parental burnout due to Covid-19.
The charity is calling on the Government to urgently increase the support available for parents and carers before problems escalate in homes or schools.
A survey, of more than 2,000 parents of children aged 18 and under, found that the most common signs shown by parents included anxiety (46%), disruption to sleep (34%), feeling isolated (33%), depression (32%) and overwhelming exhaustion mentally (27%).
Parents are desperately trying to help support their children but are often feeling utterly overwhelmed with nowhere to turnLynn Giles, Action for Children
Parents of preschool children were more likely to say they have suffered at least one of these indicators (86%) than parents of secondary school children (76%).
Nearly nine in ten (88%) parents are worried about the impact of Covid-19 on their child’s future, the survey suggests.
The charity’s parenting helpline Parent Talk, which offers one-to-one chats to parents and carers, is seeing the challenges being faced by families first-hand.
One parent of a toddler said: “I feel like I can’t get back to normal after the pandemic, I’m still anxious about going out and feel so isolated and depressed.”
Another parent told the charity: “I’m still waiting for an ASD (autism spectrum disorder) diagnosis for my child but I’ve been told I could be waiting for over a year.
“He’s struggling enormously and I feel like I’m drowning. I’m so worried about it all. I can’t sleep and when I do I have nightmares.”
Speaking to the charity, another parent said: “My teen is addicted to gaming and it’s got worse because of Covid. He refuses to sleep and when I tell him to stop he ignores me.
“Last night I turned the wifi off and he lashed out at me. My husband tells me I’m making a fuss over nothing but I want to just leave this house and never come back.”
Ayla McCamphill-Rose, a mum of two who used the charity’s helpline when her son was struggling with his mental health, said: “As a GP I can clearly see that there’s been no let up for parents.
“The ones I’ve spoken to have really struggled to find the breathing space to manage the stress not only of parenting but life in general.
I feel like I’m drowning. I'm so worried about it all. I can’t sleep and when I do I have nightmaresA parent who wished to remain anonymous
“Add to that the fallout of the number of kids going back to school having missed not only 18 months of normal academic education but that social education as well, uncertainty around exams, parents work, the children who need specialist help that have gone under the radar or are on longer waiting lists – there’s a lot of angst and panic and support is stretched thin.”
Lynn Giles, Parent Talk manager at Action for Children, said: “Parents are desperately trying to help support their children but are often feeling utterly overwhelmed with nowhere to turn. Desperate to do the right thing, but not knowing what that is.”
She added: “The fall-out from Covid is going to take years to process and with the added stresses in the run up to Christmas with food and fuel price rises on the horizon it’s almost a perfect storm of parental pressure. This could have a huge impact on the life chances of our children.
“The Government needs to recognise that parents, especially now, need help in lots of different ways.
“So, as well as trusted digital services like Parent Talk, we need to invest in face-to-face services like Family Hubs, which are local support centres where problems can be picked up more easily in the early stages and could prove a vital lifeline to those parents struggling in the wake of the pandemic.”