When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, life as we knew it around the world was turned on its head.

It was a stressful time for everyone but as research prepared for Bounty Parents has found, parents of little kids in particular were among the most stressed.

Between March 2020 and May 2020, Bounty Parents publisher Bauer Media conducted the latest rounds of their HerPulse study to get a read on the real thoughts, feelings and actions of Australian women during these ‘unprecedented times.

The research confirmed what has been anecdotally felt – that mums with young children were struggling. With many parents keeping their children home from schools and child care centres during the peak of the crisis, while also juggling at-home employment with home-schooling, the results of this research are not surprising.

Added to this, there were also the general anxiety about the novel virus, fears of their family contracting it and also being isolated away from extended family and friends for weeks on end.

But this research shines a harsh light on how Aussie mums have been feeling these last few months.

Psychologist Nicola George from Northern Beaches Counselling Psychology in Sydney told Bounty Parents that she agreed that parents have had a tough time.

“Certainly parents compared to couples that don’t have kids will have found it more stressful. Having the kids locked in the house while trying to entertain them, home-school them and also if they are trying to work from home as well, it would be more challenging,” she says.

Nicola explains that at the beginning of the pandemic there was a dip in the amount of referrals to psychologists as people were hunkering down and trying to stay safe but now she is witnessing a turning of the tide.

“We anticipate there will be a flood of referrals from the impact of COVID-19,” says Nicola.

Many mums felt stressed as they juggled working from home with entertaining or homeschooling their kids.

With social restrictions lifting, schools reopening and life returning to a new kind of normal, Bounty Parents drilled down into the most recent iteration of the HerPulse 4.0 study and found that women are beginning to feel more positive and their feelings of concern, worry and being protective have shifted to be more “optimistic, resilient and informed”.

Nicola agrees that people are feeling more at ease but says anxiety will vary from person to person – and there will be residual effects.

“People have relaxed in so far as you can go to the supermarket and buy toilet paper, which you couldn’t before when people were panic buying,” she says.

“Some people will be happy to send their kids off to school but others will feel more anxious thinking, ‘what if there is a second wave’ and ‘what if they contract the virus’. It does vary depending on the individual.”

The Bounty Parents and Bauer Media survey found that compared to all women, women with young kids are feeling…

MORE:

  • Stressed– 38% of parents with young children are currently feeling stressed, compared to 28% of all women
  • Overwhelmed – 31% of parents with young children are feeling overwhelmed, compared to 24% of all women
  • Protective – 26% of parents with young children are feeling protective, compared to 16% of all women

AND LESS:

  • Optimistic– 27% of parents with young children are feeling optimistic, compared to 33% of all women
  • Resilient– 23% of parents with young children are feeling resilient, compared to 30% of all women

This comes down to her feelings about how the pandemic is affecting her personally despite having almost the same amount of worry as average for Australia and the world. When it comes to the worry for herself, she’s well ahead of average with 60% agreeing that they are quite or very worried for themselves, compared to just 48% of all women.

But, she’s happy with how the government are responding, and is happy to be here in Australia – an impressive 92% think that the government are doing a great job/pretty well in responding to COVID-19 (compared to 88% of all women), and 86% agree that there’s no better place to be at the moment than Australia

One third of parents with young children are feeling overwhelmed.

How did parents feelings, thoughts and behaviours change over the past few months in key areas like finance, online shopping and looking after themselves? Read on.

MONEY

  • 74% of parents with young kids agree that over the next 3 months, they are going to be looking at as many ways as possible to save money (compared to 68% of all women)

HOW THEY’RE SHOPPING

Online shopping has increased for obvious reasons. For parents with younger children, we’re seeing larger than average increases across:

  • Clothing/fashion apparel – 27% of parents with young kids have increasedtheir online purchases over the past two months or so (compared to 20% of all women)
  • Arts & Crafts – 17% have increased online purchases (compared to 10% of all women)
  • Games/puzzles – 15% have increased online purchases (compared to 9% of all women)

Inability to go in-store is the obvious driver for her increased online purchases (56%), but this is heightened compared to average (47% of all women), most probably due to having children with them constantly adds another layer of complexity for getting out to the shops. Aside from this, genuinely having an increased need for these products since being at home, sales/discount codes and simply feeling like a treat/pick-me-up have contributed to this increase in online shopping!

THEIR BEHAVIOUR

  • In line with the general population, the number one activity that mums with young kids have been doing more of over the past two months to help with their health and wellbeing is calling friends and family to talk about how they’re feeling (43%). In fact over one third (38%) say that they will continue doing more of this once the pandemic is over and things return to normal. This is a trend we predict to see as healthy habits continue on into the future.

Source: Bauer Media S54 Research, HERpulse 4.0, F25-64 with young children N=131
The next round of research will be deployed in mid June.