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Researcher asks ‘how was lockdown for parents?


Psychology masters student Rosanna Stoop-Maigret is surveying parents in New Zealand about their lockdown experiences.


Psychology researcher Rosanna Stoop-Maigret started the year with plans to study a phenomenon of memory for her master’s degree. Then COVID-19 happened, and it was her experiences as a parent that made her curious to find out how mums and dads have coped in the pandemic lockdown.

She has just launched a survey for parents, with questions on different strategies that people have used at home over the past six weeks under alert level three and four. She hopes the survey results will yield evidence-based insights on stress management that can be useful in other situations. 

“One of the aims of the study is to see how Kiwi parents cope with the COVID-19 restrictions and what type of strategies they use,” says Mrs Stoop-Maigret, who is based in Whanganui. “For example, some may engage more in online activities to stay in touch with whānau and continue schooling from home. Others may find the new focus on online environments stressful and rather spend their time on outdoor activities. 

“Understanding what strategies parents find helpful to manage stress can help in the development of evidence-based advice we give parents on coping in various stressful situations that lead to feelings of fear, isolation and/or loneliness,” she says. 

Her research plan, pre-COVID-19, was an experiment on the memory conformity effect, also known as the social contagion of memory – a phenomenon in which memories or information shared by others influences and becomes embedded in another individual’s memories. But this was no longer possible when Massey switched to oline learning. As she became aware of COVID-19’s impact on the other side of the world, she had a new idea. “I follow the news in Europe closely as I am originally Dutch and the virus seemed to spread rapidly in the Netherlands. In March, all schools in the Netherlands closed down. Parents were supposed to continue their work from home whilst looking after their children. 

“Around this time, I started wondering how these restrictions would impact on families. How would parents juggle the different roles and tasks they suddenly faced? The threat of a rapidly spreading novel virus, managing their own and their children’s feelings around this situation, working from home, supporting their tamariki with distance learning – and all of this in isolation without any physical help from others.”

When New Zealand went into lockdown soon after, those questions suddenly became very pertinent to her own life, as mother to children aged six and eight. “Interestingly, I noticed that my friends and my family used different coping strategies and experienced the lockdown in different ways. Whereas some felt anxious and isolated, others thought the lockdown was a welcome simplification of their busy lives that enabled them to spend more time with their families.”

The anonymous survey is open to all New Zealand-based parents/caregivers aged 18 or over with tamariki under 18 years of age living in their household. It takes up to 30 minutes to complete and contains questions on your COVID-19 bubble, impact, coping and perceived stress, and is available online until Sunday, May 17. 

Link to survey here: https://massey.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2cyGjqfjOoQ8Zgh

For more information on the survey, contact:  sarah.stoop.1@uni.massey.ac.nz.

 

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