Ellen Dollard

Mama, we made it.

2020 comes to an end and a vaccine makes its way through the country, families everywhere are taking a collective sigh of relief. This year was far from straightforward, making life all the more complicated for parents. So we asked ourselves — what did 2020 look like for parents? And, how are they feeling heading into a new year?

01. This year has been full of worry & anxiety

Parenting was never easy, but it got a whole lot harder this year. 71% of parents state they’ve had to change their parenting approach due to the pandemic and 77% of parents state they’re more worried about their child’s health than ever before (Verywell, 2020).

Parents are in uncharted territory when it comes to making decisions that keep their kids safe while helping them grow. NYT Parenting asked readers for their most pressing concerns — the most frequently asked question was a version of:

How will masks, social distancing, and lack of interaction with other children affect their kids’ social and emotional development?

And, it’s not just the pandemic that’s weighing on them. Parents are citing a number of stressors including misinformation, the economic recession, racial injustice, and climate change (Verywell, 2020).

(Verywell Family, 2020)

Kids aren’t immune to the stress of the pandemic either. One timely example comes from USPS: Operation Santa which publishes the letters they receive addressed to Santa. This year, kids are asking Santa for more than toys:

A lot of the letters I see from year to year, most are your standard, ‘Hey, can I have some toys?’ [But] there are some differences this year — there are a lot of kids saying, ‘Santa, can you find a cure?’ or ‘Santa, my parents lost their jobs.’

— Kim Frum, Postal Service Spokeswoman (NYT, 2020)

02. Life happenings still happen during a pandemic… they just get more complicated

While many joked about a baby boom, the reality highlights the complicated nature of family planning. 30% of womxn expressed they were changing their fertility/family planning timelines this year — most are delaying, some are accelerating their timelines, but a handful of respondents are now unsure about having kids all together (USA Today, 2020).

For families that did grow, the typical joys of welcoming a newborn became overshadowed by fear, and the new realities of the world. 60% of pre & post-partum women are experiencing nervousness and anxiety at levels that impede everyday functioning (NYT, 2020).

And those in the public eye reminded us of the very painful moments too often a part of the path to parenthood. Meghan Markle and Chrissy Tiegen both bravely shared their stories of losing a child — helping to normalize the conversation around pregnancy and infant loss.

03. Finding small moments of joy

While raising kids amidst a pandemic might be giving all parents grey hair, parents still note that this extra family time is truly something to cherish. They’re getting creative with keeping themselves entertained, finding ways to break out of the monotonous days, and celebrating even the smallest moments of joy. Kids are helping keep parents grounded and focused on making the most out of this new normal.

(Naomi Davis: https://www.instagram.com/p/B92TzmfB-Uj/)

After a long day at my new ‘desk’ (a.k.a. dining-room table), I lay face down on the rug and pretend to be a surfboard for my 2.5 year old. While he walks on my back and tried to balance, he’s really functioning as a mini masseuse. Who said playtime isn’t relaxing?

Michelle Cohlan, Brooklyn (NYT, 2020)

Brands that can lead with empathy will stand out.

Parenting is complicated enough. Add in the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism, an election year, and everything else in the news, it can get a little unhinged.

With so much on their plate, parents are looking to brands to make things simpler while helping them feel reassured. Brands that can lead with an empathetic tone, make parents feel understood, and meet them where they are, will stand apart.

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