COVID-19 study reveals positive impact of lockdown on family dynamics and wellbeing


Initial findings from a study carried out by Leeds Trinity University suggest that the lockdown can have positive impacts on family dynamics and wellbeing.


Leeds Trinity academics Dr Carmen Clayton and Marie Potter have conducted British Families in Lockdown to investigate the day-to-day experiences of families managing work, home life and home-schooling. The study has been published by two UK Parliament Committees.

60 parents from a diverse set of socio-economic backgrounds, geographies, religions and cultures participated in qualitative interviews. Parents were asked about employment, home-schooling, family relationships, technology use, health, and wellbeing. The researchers found encouraging findings which suggest that lockdown has been beneficial for some families with positive changes reported.

Dr Carmen Clayton, Principal Investigator and Reader in Family and Cultural Dynamics at Leeds Trinity University, said: "We have found that some families are doing well and many are having positive experiences, particularly in terms of strengthening family bonds. Whilst others are facing difficulties and lockdown has had negative impacts for them; particularly when additional pressures have occurred. These dichotomic experiences for UK families are providing questions about modern families and new lines of inquiry into British family lives are emerging."

Findings have revealed that for many parents, the chance to spend more time at home with their children, the ability to work from home, less commuting and a sense of a slower pace of life in general, has led to a reassessment of work and career priorities. Parents have a renewed shift of focus towards the family and personal relationships, with many reporting the desire to reach a better balance between work and family life post lockdown, with some parents actively looking for new employment or more flexible working patterns.

The study has also highlighted that spending more time together as a family is beneficial for many children. Contrary to some of the negative reports of home-schooling, a significant number of parents felt that their children benefited from one-on-one learning at home, leading to progression in reading, writing and language skills. At the same time, many parents prioritised their child’s wellbeing above educational attainment during this time, leading to reports of positive child wellbeing and outcomes.

Marie Potter, Senior Lecturer in Childhood, Early Learning and Development Studies at Leeds Trinity University, said: "During this unprecedented lockdown experience, it is important that we undertake qualitative research in order to learn as much as we can about how British family dynamics are impacted by global challenges including pandemics."

The study’s initial findings have been accepted and published on the UK Parliament’s Business, Energy and Strategy Committee website and the Education Committee website. The latest reports from the study investigating the impact on disability, gender and race have also been published by the Women and Equalities Committee. 

For more information visit the research page.