Top tips for locked down dads

6 May 2020
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Mark Gatto is a working parent (PhD and Research Assistant at Northumbria School of Law and Business School) who is caring for his 14 month old son alongside his wife, who works as a doctor in the NHS. He has sole caregiving responsibility for three days a week, and shares care on the other days.

These are his top tips for being an effective hands-on dad during the Covid-19 lockdown:

Try to disconnect from the news cycle when caring for your baby. I am very conscious of the importance of protective shielding from the trauma of the virus and the daily tragic statistics. I know the more I listen, the more my face will betray my anxiety & sadness, so I focus on immersing myself in play with my son to protect his and my mental health.

If you have a key worker partner, be extra supportive when they get home. They are facing a daily threat and need a safe, loving family environment to return to.

Seek out a community of parents. For me I have a few colleagues who are parents and it has been really helpful to share my experiences – a problem shared is a problem halved!

If you are lucky to have outdoor space, or a greenish walking route, try to use it when you can by taking a daily walk. I have really benefited (physically and mentally) from using it to expose my son to different environments and for fresh air.

Use video calls as frequently as you like to ensure your baby still sees their loved ones. It is really important to me that my son still sees his grandparents and grows to know their faces.

Finally, be kind to yourself and do what relaxes and comforts you when time allows. That might be reading, watching a film, drawing, music etc. There is only so much work you can do in 24 hours and these are extraordinary times.

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