Lockdowns and Break-Ups 

Published on 03 August, 2020 | Katie Welton-Dillon

The last four months have arguably been amongst the most trying for families across Britain in living memory.

Since March the 23rd, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the introduction of a series of measures designed to counteract the spread of coronavirus, much of our normal routines have undergone substantial change.

In particular, the combination of many workplaces and schools being closed has resulted in an increase in homework for parents and children alike.

Being required to remain at home for all but the most essential reasons, such as grocery shopping or caring for vulnerable relatives, over an extended period time has been welcomed by some individuals.

However, it’s also become a source of friction for many families as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has now illustrated.

It has published the findings of a survey on home-schooling since the country went into lockdown (https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/educationandchildcare/articles/coronavirusandhomeschoolingingreatbritain/apriltojune2020).

Half of the more than 12,500 parents questioned believed that their children were struggling to continue their education while on an enforced absence from the classroom.

The study has highlighted how lockdown has affected adults too.

Parents, the ONS reveals, have come to regard the responsibility for keeping their children’s learning on-track as a challenge to their jobs, as they juggle the roles of teacher and employee.

The report, though, underlines the stresses which home-schooling is having on couples. More than one-third of parents, in fact, have admitted that it is adversely impacting their relationships.

I must confess that neither I nor my colleagues are entirely surprised by the findings.

From the earliest weeks of lockdown, we have found ourselves dealing with disputes between parents about how they might best balance their obligations.

More than just dividing the time needed to oversee their children’s schoolwork, the need to remain at home has thrown up differences about, for example, how other essential domestic chores are split.

In some instances, discussions about whether the father’s or mother’s job is more important have been difficult to resolve in the kind of calm manner which might have been possible before lockdown was imposed.

That’s especially true for parents who might both work and, therefore, might not have spent so much time together at such close quarters before the coronavirus pandemic began.

With such tensions and the prospect of at least some of the restrictions associated with lockdown remaining in place for a little longer, it has been proven helpful to provide clients with some objective advice.

Having effective, clear communication about each other’s workload inside and outside of the home has been important in many cases to defusing difficulties.

It’s been equally vital for them to appreciate that recent months have posed some unprecedented problems. Any difficulties, therefore, should be viewed with this very much in mind.

A number of the individuals who have been in touch with us may have encountered the first true obstacles in their relationships during this period.

Developing a sense of perspective – possibly with the help of the sort of specialist counsellors to whom we refer individuals who contact us when their marriages run into trouble – might not necessarily be easy but it can help persuade men and women that the stresses of the last four months may not worth be ending relationships of many years for.

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