Stress levels spike for most Aussie families
Family feuds and money worries have spiked stress levels among three quarters of Australian parents this year, a new survey shows.
And a family psychologist has warned families felt a sense of hopelessness and helplessness as the pandemic played havoc with routines and finances.
COVID-19 lockdowns, job jitters and home schooling have fuelled high anxiety over finances and household harmony, the Real Concerns of Parents report reveals.
Twice as many parents worry about paying for their children's education, with 60 per cent concerned about the cost of private schooling and university compared to 32 per cent surveyed last year.
Nearly half of parents worry about covering day-to-day living expenses.
Forty per cent of parents are concerned about their kids falling behind at school during the pandemic.
Family happiness is a concern for two out of three parents surveyed - up from half surveyed last year.
Despite more families working from home, half of the parents were very or considerably concerned about finding enough quality time for the family to connect - up from one in three parents last year.
Nearly half of Australian parents worry about the long-term impact of 2020 on family dynamics, as young adults return to the family nest and younger families spend more time cooped up in the home for work and school.
Technology is a source of tension for more parents, with 5.7 per cent worried about its negative influences and exposing children to dangers online.
More than half of parents worry that Australia is becoming a "weather disaster zone'' - double the number in last year's survey, commissioned by Real Insurance.
Family psychologist Clare Rowe said families were suffering a sense of "hopelessness and helplessness''.
Ms Rowe said the pandemic had wrecked routines and thrown Australians into a stressful "fight or flight'' mode.
"Humans thrive on consistency and predictability," she said.
"The presence of a global pandemic with significant changes and upheaval to workplaces, education and family life have disrupted our sense of repetitiveness and ability to have trust in what the future holds.
"Best laid plans of careers and financial investments have been turned upside down in a matter of months and replaced by just day-to-day survival to cover the bills.''
Accountant Stacey Price, the mother of William, 10 and James, 8, said her work had been "the busiest ever'' as she helped small businesses navigate COVID-19 shocks and government assistance.
She knows workers whose hours and incomes have been halved during the pandemic.
"People are living day to day and when something like COVID-19 hits it's got a massive impact,'' she said.
Ms Price said she had changed her priorities in life.
"Being through the lockdown made you realise what things are more important,'' she said.
"I always wanted to be the perfect mother, perfect wife, perfect business owner, perfect employer and perfect friend - but I wasn't perfect at any of those things.
"There are not enough hours in the day, so now I ask what's the minimum I need to do each day to avoid massive arguments and meltdowns?''
Ms Price said her sons enjoyed spending more time playing outdoors, while she savoured the time saved travelling from her home in Ballarat to Melbourne every week.
"My business has operated perfectly with me working from home full-time,'' she said.
"I don't need to do all that travel and go to all the events and seminars that take up a lot of time - I've still got the same output.''
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Originally published as Stress levels spike for most Aussie families