"Dads…are more involved with their children than ever before”. States the UK’s think tank The Fatherhood Institute. And we at Home-Start believe this to be a great thing!

Early research tells us that COVID-19 is hitting dads hard. Their world has been turned upside down too. Home-Start supports parents with their children’s early years. We are still supporting families through lockdown, now in different ways. Dads come in all shapes and sizes, with varied roles to play in family life. Dads may live with their children, Dads may live apart from their children, live with their own parents, live with their children but work away, could be the single parent or a step-parent.

During lockdown, dads' contact with their children maybe limited or, have even ceased. There could be disputes with their children’s mum about the rules of contact. Children not living with dad maybe worried about seeing dad outside the normal patterns. It is not easy. More Dads are working from home (an increase of over 200% in the last month) and this changes the household dynamic. Dad could have lost his job or, been furloughed and is now at home all day, could be a key worker and is now living away from the family home. It’s tough for dads. It’s tough for children, especially young children.

Research published in The Lancet journal last month, told us that children as young as two years old are aware of the changes around them. They don’t have the understanding, vocabulary or language to express their concerns but, they feel the changes and can feel when their caregivers are stressed, or absent. This is very unsettling for a child. They need their parents now more than ever.

Home-Start Organiser, Emma Johnson (pictured right) said,
"When change is happening so fast it’s understandable you may feel less present for your children now. Everyone in the family will be feeling different emotions at different times, and that is OK. Just being there, cuddling, reading and talking with your child will help them. It is an unsettling time but just taking it a day at a time is fine."

Home-Start have some tips to support you and your family…Whatever sort of dad, partner, or granddad you are, dad can help the family during this time of enforced lockdown.
You can:

  1. See this as an opportunity to have more time with your children/family time
  2. Be creative with contact using technology safely and age appropriately
  3. Agree with your child if they live away what the new routine of contact will look like/ what can they expect from you now? Will their pocket money stop?!
  4. Be reassuring, calm, positive
  5. See the household/ family roles as fluid and “Do what needs doing” regardless of traditional gender roles or previous behaviour and responsibilities
  6. Be aware that your children are watching! Model positive behaviour with your partner, eat healthily, take breaks, sleep well, keep to a good bedtime routine
  7. Use the time to connect more deeply with your child/ren – play games, cards, learn new skills from them, talk, read, have fun, be silly, cook, do household chores together, school work together, ask them about their day
  8. Try and eat at least one meal a day together - routines maybe wonky now but this can be powerful to feel connected as a unit
  9. Take your daily exercise with your children
  10. Agree boundaries & routines with your family, if you are working from home or home-schooling
  11. Expectant dads can still attend ante-natal appointments with their partner and these meetings are as important as ever to support each other
  12. If your family suffers a COVID-19 bereavement, the situation is quite different from a death at any other time. Look for specialist bereavement support and access books and resources for your children to understand too.
  13. Build up your own support networks - social media, websites, radio programme and connect with friends and family in new ways
  14. If your child wants to talk about what is happening, take them through it with the facts and go online for resources to help you

During lockdown Home-Start is continuing to support 80 local vulnerable families with weekly calls and deliveries of ‘Packs of Joy’ for the children. These include books, games, colouring, toys and crafts for families who have limited resources and minimal space for their children’s play. If you would like to support the crowdfunding campaign for more ‘Packs of Joy’ please pledge now at https://www.spacehive.com/packs-of-joy-helping-vulnerable-families?searchText=packs%20of%20joy The campaign will end on Sunday 17th May. We support parents now, because childhood can’t wait.

If you have a young family and feel like you need support now, you can contact Home-Start Arun, Worthing and Adur on 01903 889707 or email family@home-startawa.org.uk and we can agree a time and a way to talk. Our services are free and available during daytime and webchat is available 2 evenings each week.