The first few months and years of a child’s life are some that all parents know the importance of. From their first words to their first steps, to the first days of school, your child begins to possess some of the most important life skills and knowledge they will need. However, the impact of the coronavirus lockdown measures on children’s development has not gone unnoticed by parents. Not only that, but the mental health impact the pandemic has had on parents throughout this difficult time.

However, an end is in sight. With the roadmap out of lockdown plan being confirmed, key milestones have been laid out with specific dates attached, giving us hope that life will return to normal in the upcoming months. These dates are vital to parents everywhere. With this said, we discuss what the dates mean for parents and how they will help continue the development of their children.

The return of Schools

The Education State suggests that the first years are “a time when the brain develops and much of its ‘wiring’ is laid down”. Therefore, the staggered school reopening that began on the 8th of March was a relief for many.

Other than allowing children to continue their academic learning, it will also provide a break for parents. For many, the pandemic has meant juggling working from home with looking after their children and keeping their minds active. This has had a substantial impact on many people’s mental wellbeing during such testing times.

Over a third of parents admitted that their mental health had been harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research gathered by 5 Big Questions, a campaign headed by the Duchess of Cambridge. Of course, there are many reasons why this is the case, but the reopening of schools at least helped to ease the pressure on parents in the UK.

A helping hand

As of 29th March, six people or two households were able to meet outside, and it is expected by the 27th May this will be allowed indoors. Furthermore, all current limits on social contact are scheduled to be removed on the 21st of June.

This could mean an end to feeling isolated for parents, especially with new babies, across the country. It could also mean that they are able to get some help and support from people outside of their immediate family. After all, parenthood can be hard – from the moment you find out you’re pregnant to the final hospital bag checklist before the dash to the hospital, to giving birth and holding a new little life in your arms. After this, there’s the pressure of navigating those all-important early years and making sure that your child has the support that they need to grow into a happy, healthy, and well-adjusted young adult. All in all, it’s not an easy task!

It goes without saying that no parent should have to do everything on their own. It’s important to understand the crucial role that wider communities can play both in positively impacting children’s formative years and offering new parents some support. The focus should be on raising a healthy and happy generation of children, and that relies on many factors outside the control of the parents.

Luckily, it was revealed by the 5 Big Questions survey that community support for parents had significantly increased during the pandemic in many regions. However, sadly the same could not be said for new parents living in the most deprived areas of the UK. Although 40 per cent of respondents felt that community support had grown, only 33 per cent in deprived areas felt the same.

This much-needed support will become more accessible once restrictions on social contact with others ease even more. After these key dates, parents will be able to socialise more and enlist help and support from their friends and extended family members. Over the past few months, it has been found that 63 per cent said that they’d experienced loneliness. So, the opening up of society will come as a much-needed relief.

The return of activities

It has not been easy for both children and parents being stuck in the house for several months on end. Despite creative efforts, many have struggled to keep their kids stimulated and entertained. Because of this, parents everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief when they are once again able to do activities with their kids outside of the house.

As of the 12thApril, indoor leisure activities reopened once more. So, from parents who are dropping their ten-year-olds off at football practice to new mothers and babies attending their first swimming class, possibilities have reopened once again for all.

Two key factors to early childhood development are socialisation and stimulation. Therefore, the re-opening of leisure activities outdoors on the 29th of March and indoors from the 12th of April is sure to make the world of difference.

We are expected to see more opportunities for families with young children open up once again as the UK gradually returns to life as we once knew it. From increased support to a wider variety of activities, the road ahead looks bright.

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