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The following post is contributed by Huggable, whom the team at Having Kids applauds for engaging on complex social issues. Having Kids receives no compensation from Huggable.

Here at Huggable, we applaud Having Kids’ mission to create a better and more equitable world by giving all children the best possible start in life. We also believe that research should inform decision-making about important topics such as family planning, child inequality, and climate change.

Another topic that we are deeply interested in is learning about what makes strong, sustainable families thrive, even when presented with difficult circumstances.

Huggable’s COVID-19 Research Report

To find out how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected families with young children, we recently commissioned a survey of hundreds of families. The results of our research provide not only a glimmer of optimism in the midst of the pandemic’s tragic consequences, but also further evidence of the importance of building stable, sustainable families that thrive when given the right resources and opportunities. 

Our findings are based on the insights of 538 parents with children under the age of three, collected in April and May 2020. The vast majority of the respondents were mothers, although a number of fathers also took part in the survey.

Key Takeaways From Our Survey

1. Parents Are Spending More Time With Their Children

Arguably, the most important finding of our research is that parents are spending more time with their children than they did before COVID-19. Specifically, mothers are spending an average of 49% more time with their babies and toddlers, which is an additional 3.9 hours per weekday. The increase was particularly apparent among mothers who work full-time, as they reported a 60% increase in time spent with their children. 

Specifically, many parents have found unexpected opportunities to help their children with schoolwork, learn new skills, adopt an exercise routine, and get to know their little ones in a way that just wasn’t possible before the pandemic. 

2. Mothers Are Feeling Closer to Their Children

Although COVID-19 has undoubtedly made the multifaceted nature of parenthood even more complex, especially for mothers, many relationships between mothers and children have improved. Notably, 63% of mothers in our survey said they felt either slightly or significantly closer to their children as a result of changes related to COVID-19. 

Once again, full-time working mothers have experienced the most significant improvement in their relationships, with 67% reporting that they felt either slightly or significantly closer to their children. Several mothers in our survey noted that they were particularly grateful to have been able to breastfeed their babies and toddlers more regularly, as this has helped them develop closer bonds with their littles ones.  

3. Parents and Children Have Found Unexpected Opportunities to Thrive 

Despite the anxieties and challenges brought on by COVID-19, we were very pleased to discover that many mothers, fathers, and children are using this time to work together more cohesively as a family unit. 

The pandemic has resulted in many families taking stock of what really matters and finding ways to cope even in the midst of financial uncertainty. With families valuing time spent together and avoiding unnecessary trips to crowded places, many parents reported that they have found creative ways to make online shopping faster and easier by using money-saving tools such as Wikibuy

Additionally, with parents and children spending more time at home, there have been extra opportunities for shared family meals, creative play, and spending time in nature. In our survey, we repeatedly heard about how children have been helping their parents with chores, exploring their own interests, and developing skills such as independence, resilience, and empathy

We were also pleased to learn that fathers have been sharing in childcare and other household responsibilities more regularly and more equitably. This has been especially valuable for fathers of young children who may have missed out on their children’s earliest developmental milestones.

You can find out more about our findings, and discover other research on how children and families are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic by reading our full research report

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