Learning lessons from left-out Lockdown parents
From music, games, and crafts for toddlers, to reading to the bump sessions for pregnant women, Merseyside is listening to a generation of parents for whom Lock down left some feeling isolated, unable to cope and even judged.
A Foundation Years Trust survey, carried out to assess parent’s emotions during the First Five Years festival, showed that many mums and dads had mixed feelings about parenting.
Some 36% of the 232 people questioned actually had more negative than positive emotions when baby was born, with one mother claiming, “you are not a human being anymore, you are just a womb.”
But pleas to provide opportunities to meet with other parents and create safer environments are being heeded by organisations such as the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (MVRP) – a partner of the Foundation Years Trust.
“This is an extraordinary study of a unique cohort of parents, especially given that nearly half of respondents gave birth during Lockdown, whilst others have nurtured children during its wake” said Geraldine O’Driscoll, Temporary Head of the MVRP. “It has also focused us on what needs to be done. From concerns about mental health, to creating safer places to play in, we are listening and encouraging our many partners to do the same.”
Although facing unprecedented challenges, Merseyside parents showed amazing resilience and self-belief, with 77% feeling confident enough to make decisions on their own. Family was rated highly as a support mechanism, with 59% turning to their partner and 50% to the wider family when in need of support.
The health and social care network experienced unheralded challenges during the pandemic and its aftermath – but health visitors and midwives were still judged as an effective shoulder to lean on by many.
“We hope that the information we have gathered proves useful for the charities, local authorities and health professionals working with parents of the under 5’s” said Anne Parker from Foundation Years Trust. “From feeling overwhelmed and criticised to experiencing joy, caring for young children in Merseyside has led to mixed emotions. We must make parents more aware of the services available to them and let them know that sometimes it is okay not to feel okay.”
Geraldine O’Driscoll concluded: “The early years of a child’s life are pivotal, and I am glad the respondents recognised that. We all have lessons to learn from this excellent report and we must work together to address the very real issues, raised. That includes families, and it was interesting that just 9% of respondents at the First Five festival were dads. Since they were questioned at fun play event you have to ask, “why is only mum taking them along!”
The First Five Years report is called , “It Takes a Village”. This comes from a proverb which says that an entire community of people must provide for and interact positively with children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. View the full report at LINK
The First Five Festival event was organised by Foundation Years Trust in partnership with The Liverpool One Foundation, The Torus Foundation, The Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund (Merseyside) and the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership.