Published June 26, 2020 18:25
Manitoba has a lower amount of disease compared to other parts of Canada, but it doesn’t mean families aren’t feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A local researcher says about half of parents are reporting higher stress levels.
The Villa family has been spending a lot of time together at home.
"We have some board games and that's what they are doing," said Maria Villa, a mother of two children.
On Friday, they came to the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Holly Taylor and her three children had the same idea.
Both moms have been working over the last three months and say the pandemic has been a challenge.
"Now we have (the kids) 24 hours and it's so stressful because I have a building to manage," said Villa.
"You just feel like there is more on your shoulders," said Taylor. "Trying to keep everyone safe while still giving them things to do."
Clinical psychologist Leslie Roos said more than 50 per cent of families are reporting clinically significant levels of mental health concerns.
She said this is “a real concern.”
"We're also hearing that despite these mental health needs, these parents are working so hard to try to keep their kids entertained," Roos said.
She's been surveying Canadian families about the pandemic. With summer here, she says many parents depend on community resource centres or day camps for support, but a large portion of those are closed or cancelled.
"So we are continuing to see unmet childcare needs and we are continuing to see challenges of families who are at home with a lot of people at home and a lot different choices for activities that they used to have."
The Ryerson Boys and Girls Club has been open for two weeks on a limited schedule. The group's executive director, Allison Drummond, said spots filled fast and families definitely missed the program.
"They missed the kids having this fun outlet and how much there had to be a focus on school when they were at home," she said. "They really appreciate there is this creative time where the kids can just be themselves and not worry about everything else.
Roos said she encourages parents – especially those with younger children – to get down on their level to play, or explore places like the Zoo together as a family.
To participate in Roos' research, people can visit the Parenting during the Pandemic website. Participants are being accepted through the month of July.