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To feel appalling guilt and impotence over my DD during lockdown

(137 Posts)
thepeopleversuswork Mon 13-Jul-20 08:04:36

I know rationally that its not my fault exactly.
But during lockdown I feel my DD has gone backwards in so many ways and I blame myself.
I'm a lone parent and am working on average 10 hours a day. I'm on conference or zoom calls all day or working on documents. There is absolutely no question of my easing off at work, they don't take my situation into consideration at all.
The outputs of that are a) I can only support home schooling in the most rudimentary way -- I can't really supervise and she gets very little done b) she relies hugely on screen-based entertainment. I feel so awful about this but in a lot of situations its literally the only way to guarantee the non-interruption I need in order to be able to work.
During lockdown we have ensured that we build in exercise and I have tried to make time after work for non-screen based things (games/puzzles/reading). And she reads a lot. But the reality is she spends a vast amount of her time on youtube or on her tablet. I feel she has lost some social skills and she has put on weight.
I've tried motivating her to do other things (craft etc). But its always with limited success. She'll do it for a short time and then will default back to screens. I can't take the risk of her coming in and interrupting calls etc so I tend to take the path of least resistance and usually just let her get on with it.
I know in my head that this is probably just the way we've been able to cope. But I feel a mixture of appalling guilt for allowing it to continue as long as it has and anger and resentment at people who haven't had to make this choice. I know people on furlough can't be blamed for this and try hard to separate this in my head but I still feel inexplicably angry that I have had to do so much with so little support and my daughter has suffered so much as a result of my burning myself into the ground to keep the lights on.
I'm worried about lasting damage to her from this and wonder if anyone has advice about a) helping children move back into some normalised world after lockdown and b) helping support them reclaim life after screens. Because I am really eaten up about it and we both need to move on.

OP’s posts: |
ssd Mon 13-Jul-20 08:06:06

How old is she?

LaurieMarlow Mon 13-Jul-20 08:11:24

I feel so much for you. Please try not to feel bad about this because you were put in an absolutely impossible situation. You have every right to feel angry, your daughter has been badly let down, but not by you.

In terms of practical help, is there a non screen based hobby you could both get into? Is she seeing her friends at the moment? Has there been communication from her school about arrangements for September?


Charles11 Mon 13-Jul-20 08:17:33

That sounds so difficult. You know your resentment of people on furlough is a waste of energy but I don’t blame you for directing your anger somewhere.
10 hrs a day is really tough and you’re doing the best you can.

You could try using screens in a different way. Try some documentaries, educational programmes or YouTube tutorials on crafts and drawings.
Have you tried oak academy? You could help her get back on track by getting her on there and asking her to complete the relevant daily classes for her year group.

Could you start arranging outdoor and zoom play dates every now and then?

custardbear Mon 13-Jul-20 08:19:01

We're in a transient phase, it'll soon be over

My DD is 11 (yr 6) and she was a bit like this before lockdown! Since then I've swapped her day snacks for fruit and bread sticks, we both cycle about half an hour 3-4 times a week, I've got her engaged with a friend she loves but my DD because a bit of a loner after mild bullying so she drifted a bit, so is she and her friend meet up weekly either at our house or her mums and they have just started going solo to our local park (either me or friends mum) vaguely following and in the area so they're progressing their independence

Small steps but it's working! She's lost weight too.
The bloody iPad though 😬🙄 I've set it so she can't use beyond a certain time and she then reads in the evening

Work wise she sits in with me (my work is meetings and Teams/Zoom etc all day often) so I'll tell her to put aside problems she's struggling with and we go through when I'm less busy

My DS however is 8 and needs much support so my husband teaches him intermittently throughout the day between his meetings )his work has cooled off somewhat) and we've bought these activity books for him, some colouring to help with his writing skills (fine hand skills type things) so some things he can just get on with , watches horrible histories and some learning type iPad based things

It's a faff and a pain but hope you get some good tips on here

MintyMabel Mon 13-Jul-20 08:50:33

There's two of us here with time between us to deal with DD, but she is doing exactly the same as your child.

It's an ongoing fight. I took away all screens yesterday. She's still in bed and I'm certain it's because she doesn't know what she'll do when she gets up.

hibbledobble Mon 13-Jul-20 08:54:23

It sounds tough, but if you have no other choice, then needs must.

Are there summer playschemes in your area? If so, a good opportunity to get her away from screens, exercising, and building social skills. I know they aren't available everywhere though. At least in September she will be back in school.

Do you have any family or friends who could help?

thepeopleversuswork Mon 13-Jul-20 09:13:34

Thanks all, sorry for the drip feed. She's 9.

Charles11 you're right that there is good stuff online and she's done some of that. I don't think any of the content she's looking at is intrinsically harmful and some of it is positive.

I just worry so much about the impact of what is basically a screen-based life. And feel so frustrated and angry that I've been put in the position where I basically have to accept this as a condition of being able to be economically productive.

hibbledobble I have some local friends and they've been great in as far as social distancing rules have allowed. My family have been pretty rubbish really. Essentially there's no-one I can rely on except myself and I'm tired of the relentlessness of it. And furious that the government and society thinks its acceptable that it should all be my responsibility and thus all my fault when it f**ks up her life.

Sorry if I sound angry. I realise there's been an unprecedented crisis and others have needs greater than mine. But I think that families have been treated appallingly by this government generally and lone parent families have been treated as if we don't exist and our needs don't count.

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KrakowDawn Mon 13-Jul-20 09:19:03

Don't worry- you've recognised there are issues and want to change things- that's half the battle thanks

thepeopleversuswork Mon 13-Jul-20 09:28:40

KrakowDawn but how can I change things when I'm physically unable to be present most of the time to actually instigate this change? And no-one else can do it for me?

I've had comments from friends (either furloughed or SAHM friends) indicating absolute horror at my situation saying they don't know how I can tolerate it and I need to change it now or we will both suffer long-term damage etc. I know they mean well but they make me feel even worse. The reality is I can't change it without losing my job. My employer already thinks I'm massively underperforming. There's no wiggle room at all.

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Fatted Mon 13-Jul-20 09:34:33

It's shit OP. It really is. I am working full time from home. DH is still working full time, but thankfully his shifts have changed so he's working more days I'm off etc. Even we find it hard. My job is an absolute shit storm and I find working from home much harder than I thought.

I keep telling myself it's not going to be like this forever. My DC are going back to school in September (we're in Wales). We've had the confirmation through. Mine are back at the childminder two days a week and everyone is already happier for that. I'm just white knuckle riding it through to September.

Rainycloudyday Mon 13-Jul-20 09:35:00

That’s so hard OP. Can I be nosey and ask about your financial situation-is a change of job an option? I know that will take a while but your employer has shown their true colours so it doesn’t bode well for any future unprecedented circumstances.

Can you take any annual leave?

Fairyliz Mon 13-Jul-20 09:39:00

Has she got any friends you could invite around and they could play in the garden. I’m sure it’s probably not allowed but how big can the risk be if you are all generally in good health?
They hopefully the other parents would reciprocate.

KrakowDawn Mon 13-Jul-20 09:47:53

You aren't working seven days a week? You are entitled to annual leave also?
You need to spend your non-working time with her, building up her self-entertainment skills, so that when you are working, she isn't just glued to a screen or mooching for food. It will be hard, I don't deny it, but it isn't irreversible if she is only nine.

Do you have a (safe, enclosed) garden at all?
Can she read at the expected level for her age, and does she have an expected level of understanding?
Do you have any resources in your home to allow her to make things independently? (e.g. card, paper, paints, a printer, fabric (even small offcuts), yarn, lolly sticks/straws, recycling items such as cardboard, empty plastic bottles etc)

What is she interested in? Is there anything she loves doing, or seeing? What things do you both normally do together when life isn't like this? How do you spend your weekends and school holidays?

thepeopleversuswork Mon 13-Jul-20 09:50:20


My financial situation is OK - I'm paid fairly well. I could take a bit of a pay cut and I'm planning to offer this as part of my annual review (ie cut hours in return for lower pay) but I'm 90% sure they'll say no at the moment because we are so under-resourced.

I think I do need to look for another job: I was giving them the benefit of the doubt when lockdown was at its height but I just feel that I've been exploited recently. The problem is at the moment I just don't have time to look for one.

But clearly something has to give.

Fairyliz she does and we've had some playdates recently and that's all well and good. But it only eats into about an hour of a 10 hour day so doesn't really change the fundamental problem.

OP’s posts: |
Orangeblossom78 Mon 13-Jul-20 09:50:57

I think just remember this is temporary and hopefully things will be back to normal with school etc soon. My DS (11) has been on Minecraft an awful lots as well. It's not your fault and you didn't ask for this situation

Try and think just that you have got through it, and that is the main thing. It has not been a normal time. And you have every right to feel angry flowers

bitheby Mon 13-Jul-20 09:56:07

Your feelings are totally valid. Life isn't fair. This situation will have winners and losers and it's normal to be angry. Some of those people on furlough will go on to lose their jobs so don't direct your anger at them too much. Just recognise that you envy some things about their situation but not all of it.

This situation is only temporary. At her age I was spending every spare moment I could playing computer games. I turned out ok. This won't affect her for the rest of her life. There is plenty of her life ahead of her to make changes. Try not to beat yourself up to much. You're doing your best.

OoohTheStatsDontLie Mon 13-Jul-20 09:56:30

No practical advice but your employer is being shite. Yes they pay you to work, but they are also legally obligated to make sure as much as they possibly can, that your work does not lead to you becoming ill and stressed, and this is supposed to take into account people's personal circumstances. Working you to the bone when they know you've got no childcare and trying to home school is always going to lead to burn out and resentment. I think this has shown who the decent employers are and which don't give a shit about their employees wellbeing.

KrakowDawn Mon 13-Jul-20 09:57:00

I'm sorry- my last post sounds very harsh, I am doing too many things at once too!
I was aiming for succinct not castigating, my apologies.

thepeopleversuswork Mon 13-Jul-20 09:57:01


I do in practice work some of seven days a week. Not as much on Saturday or Sunday obviously but average about two-three hours on each day.

Her reading is fine: she reads tons and is very happy to do this. It's other stuff that worries me. She's very reluctant to do any craft-related stuff at all. I'm honestly not massively good at this either but I'd happily give it a go if I had time.

At weekends we tend to go out: parks/museums etc. For holidays we've tended to do city breaks with museums.

OP’s posts: |
TingTastic Mon 13-Jul-20 09:57:19

What childcare do you normally use in the holidays? Around here a lot of it is opening up again so it’s definitely worth signing her up to it asap.

I would also look at taking some annual leave and really spending some time focussing on her then

Just remember that it’s a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things and that children often take a significant amount of time out of school (eg for illness) and soon catch back up at this age x

Disfordarkchocolate Mon 13-Jul-20 10:00:22

I'm really annoyed at employers who are putting their workers in this position.

thepeopleversuswork Mon 13-Jul-20 10:01:02

Thanks everyone for being kind btw. I realise I probably come across as angry and resentful and if I'm honest I do feel like this. In my calmer moments I can be kind to myself too but I didn't feel at all kind this morning, I felt like she would do better anywhere other than with me.

I'm so ragged and stressed about work all the time and wrapped so tightly that I can't really enjoy anything. I never get any downtime at all, never get a decent night's sleep and never get to do anything on my own. It's massively colouring the way I feel about things.

OoohTheStatsDontLie I know. It's really affected my motivation already. I'm getting the work done but I've lost any impetus to shine or to be a team player. Praise and bollockings just wash over me and nothing makes much difference.

I do need to prioritise moving.

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piscean10 Mon 13-Jul-20 10:05:57

This sounds horribly tough and I truly get you. I'm on the exact opposite scale of you (sahm) but I really feel for you.
We have been completely self isolating and I have offered ds friend (same situation as you) to come over to do the homeschooling 2 days. Do you think you can arrange this with any of your dd friends?
Sorry op I can imagine how tough this is for you. My sister is in the same situation but too far away for me to help.

DominaShantotto Mon 13-Jul-20 10:08:13

What we have done as a society to these kids is shameful. I had some of my kids' friends over the other day - and these are kids who normally walk absolutely everywhere (up and down a fucking evil hill multiple times a day and they'll walk into the local town where everyone else will drive) and are incredibly active... and I was shocked how pale they were, with huge shadows under their eyes and how much weight they've put on - and mine are probably the same to an onlooker as well (you never notice changes in your own kids as much). Likewise every photo on FB - the kids are pale and have put on weight - why wouldn't they have done? Even the most dedicated family going for extended morally enriching walks every day multiple times is running out of steam now - all these kids' activities have been on hiatus, or in some kind of watered down Zoom format in a cramped living room - they've lost their dancing, their karate, their swimming, the playgrounds have been padlocked and parents have had to work/study.

They are ALL suffering in terms of physical wellbeing, mental health and communication (the language regression in my child is awful - and this is in a house with a very language rich high quality environment) - hell, I should be doing better than most - I'm a trained primary teacher, I'm a student speech and language therapist and I deferred my university exams so I could focus on the kids... you can still see the toll it's taken on them (in my kids' case it's more mental health that's suffered). In the end I fought tooth and nail for school to take my youngest back in as a child who was really suffering through it all - just for the social interaction - I had to get my child classified as vulnerable to help her as she was an absolute mess - not sleeping because her head was too full of sad, just walking into rooms and randomly bursting into tears, had lost so much of her speech fluency and was beginning to stammer, was having anxiety induced headaches and covered in eczema from it all - she was an absolute shell. We've come a long way in terms of undoing that damage but socially she's now changed from being the confident kid who'd be off chatting to anyone to one that will cling to me for a long while observing a situation.

Every parent has just been doing the best they could to get through this and I think the only blame that can really be apportioned is to a society as a whole that decided to put the kids through it.

School have told the kids they're living through something really new and part of history - I phrase it differently and tell them in years to come there'll be a Horrible Histories song and dance routine about the year everyone panic bought the loo roll. We've made up various possible lyrics for this!

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