How to cope with parental guilt

Many parents are feeling guilty during lockdown. You may feel that you’re not coping, or that you could be doing better.  The pressures of home schooling your children and balancing your other commitments can take a toll. We’re here to tell you it’s OK.

Woman sitting calmly with eyes shut near open window

You are not alone

The challenges you’re facing as a parent during lockdown are new and difficult. Many parents feel the same way you do, even if they don’t talk about it.

Think about where your guilt is coming from. Is it about something out of your control? Accept that you’re feeling guilty. Label the feeling as guilt and move on from it. Fighting it wastes energy and can affect your behaviour towards others.

You are not ‘working from home’

In fact, you’re at home during a crisis, trying to work, while also trying to manage childcare. If it’s difficult, speak to you employer about flexible working and workload expectations.

It’s OK to let your children watch TV or play video games. It can help you get some work done, take time for yourself, and help create a happier home environment.

Your home is not a school

Your home is not a classroom, and the current changes may be unsettling for your children. You are also not a teacher and it’s OK if both you and children can only do half days.

Have realistic expectations. If you can, introduce some flexibility in your school day routine. This way you can adapt if necessary but keep a sense of normalcy for the day.

Some days the routine may feel impossible. Take a day off, bake a cake, make a fort, watch a film together and try again tomorrow.

Be kind to yourself

The happier you are, the happier you will be with your children. Ask yourself:

  • Have you been critical of yourself? If so, try to think if you would talk to your family or friends in the same way.
  • What have you done for yourself this week? Taken a relaxing bath? Read a book? Caught up on your favourite TV show? If nothing springs to mind, take 15 minutes a day for yourself without feeling guilty.

You’re doing better than you might think

Reflect on the positives and highlight successes, big and small. At the end of the day, share one thing that’s gone well. Put up a board and have everyone write one thing they’ve learned that day. This will also help reflect on home schooling. Learning isn’t just about what is on the curriculum.

Don’t let social media get to you

Seeing other families doing well on social media can make you feel guilty. But remember: people only post the good. Yes, they are having fun in the park right now. What you don’t see is they also spent 30 minutes convincing a toddler to put shoes on.

Limit your use of social media. It might be useful to have a ‘clear out’ of the people you are following/friends with. If deleting someone is not an option, you can mute or hide their posts without them knowing.

It has been said again and again, but these really are unprecedented times. There is no roadmap for parents. Give yourself a break, you are doing great.

Go back

5 self-care ideas for parents


Home schooling tips


How to talk to your child about difficult topics


How can I cope with feelings of parental loneliness?


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