Coping through coronavirus as a Dad

Across the country families are trying to adapt to new ways of living through the coronavirus crisis. For Dads, this might mean managing extra challenges.

If you live with your children you might be trying to juggle home schooling with keeping them occupied and happy. Lots of families are telling Parentline things like money worries and not being able to get support from friends and family is making it even harder.

If you don’t live with your children you might be trying to help with all of this and manage a co-parenting relationship. Lockdown restrictions could mean you are seeing your children less than your normal routine, in a different way or not at all.

We know there are lots of ways to be a Dad. When we say ‘Dad’ we don’t just mean a biological father, but dads who are parenting in all sorts of different ways – single fathers, step-dads, non-resident fathers, same-sex dads, dads in prison.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or need someone to talk to, Parentline is here – start a webchat by clicking the pink speech bubble or call free on 08000 28 22 33.

Contact and formal agreements

Living apart from your children is even more difficult right now. It’s important to follow the Government guidelines to keep your children safe. As restrictions are eased the guidelines might change, so it’s good for parents to keep talking about what’s working for your family. You can speak to Parentline or take a look at our contact arrangements page for more support.

Co-parenting during coronavirus

For parents who have separated, you might find the way you normally co-parent has to change. Open and honest communication is the most important thing to help your children feel safe and loved.

Here are some things Dads have told us helped them:

  • Plan and check-in: if you have made new contact arrangements or plans, make sure you ask how everyone is finding them. Each week is different so it’s helpful to be flexible and open to changing the plans.
  • Consistency: try to make sure your children are getting the same message from you and your ex. It’s helpful to agree rules together for things like screen time and schoolwork.
  • Share the load: there is a lot to juggle with the kids not at school. Try to share the added challenges – like helping your children with their schoolwork.
  • Give each other a break: both of you need a breather, a cuppa or time to yourself sometimes. Plan time for yourself into your co-parenting schedule and support each other to take time out.
  • Keep talking: it’s an uncertain time and your family is coping with a lot. Share any concerns or worries you have about your children with each other.

Other ways of keeping in touch

If you can’t be with your children let them know that you are thinking of them and are there for them. There are lots of things you can try to connect when you can’t see each other face-to-face:

  • Lots of us have become used to video calls in lockdown but it’s not too late to try new things. If you have been doing a weekly chat you could try shorter calls more often, or plan times when you know your ex will need a break.
  • If it’s getting tricky to fill the time with talking, try playing games or doing activities together on your video call.
  • Join your children for a walk or a bike ride in their local area – follow social distancing if you need to.
  • Help your children keep in touch with wider family, like grandparents or cousins – you could use group calls to get everyone together.
  • Send them a letter or a card – you can draw pictures or use stickers to make it more fun!
  • Ask your children if they have any ideas they would like to try.

Everyone’s wellbeing is important

It’s a very stressful and challenging time and both children and adults are feeling the strain. Ask your children and your ex how they are feeling and let them know it’s OK to find it difficult.

Some children might be anxious to leave the house. Try to respect how they’re feeling and understand if they want to stay in one home at the moment. Reassure them that this isn’t forever, and you will be able to go back to your normal arrangements when it’s safe.

Dealing with not seeing your children is really tough. If you are sharing care of your children, drop-offs might be harder. Juggling home-schooling with everything else can feel impossible. If you are feeling low or anxious, don’t feel you need to go through it alone. Parentline is here if you need to talk and The Fathers Network also have lots of advice for Dads.

Worries about the future

You and your children might be worried about what will happen if you get ill. Make time to talk and listen to their worries. Try to answer their questions as truthfully and simply as you can. Instead of talking about what might happen, talk about things you can control – like washing your hands. If you or a family member become unwell reassure your child that you are following advice from the doctors so that you or they can get well again.

Parentline is here to help your family cope through coronavirus. We provide emotional and practical support every day of the week – over the phone or on webchat.