Table 3

Interview extracts illustrating factors

Societal factors Pre-COVID social inequalities—Housing space
Lack of space—“I’ve got three kids in one room, because the oldest one’s obviously older, so I put her in the wee-est room and then the wee one (the baby) is still in with us.” (Woman, PP)
Adequate space—“We’ve got sort of designated places … Lisa works upstairs, there’s an area there in the hall. I’m in the study—which sounds grander than it is—but which is downstairs. And the kids can be in the kitchen, dining room, living room or their bedrooms.” (Man, PP)
Outside spaces closed therefore children stuck in house all day
“Cause we’ve been crammed into this tiny wee flat. The kids don’t have any garden, they’ve got nowhere to burn off energy so our outside space would be to go somewhere and we don’t have anywhere to go. And then places are closed, so it’s been difficult just staying in in the same house all together. So, they’re bouncing off the walls in here most of the time, to be honest.” (Woman, LP)
Organisational factors Missing spontaneous social interactions at work/commute
“There was definitely (…) professional isolation. Because I wasn’t seeing any work colleagues…so you didn’t see any of your peers for a period of time (…) but I was definitely less isolated than my wife, because she was at home.” (Man, PP)
Flexible working eases strain on parents
Flexible employer—“I didn’t want to let them down, and, do you know, our work has been really good. Like they have been very, do your work when you can. We understand you’ve got a child.” (Woman, PP)
Inflexible employer—“My boss herself is an workaholic so she expects a high standard with her staff team. So she was quite clear that she’s, like, you will be doing your 35 hours a week … And trying to juggle … When I reflect back, it was just … like, at the start of the pandemic, I really, really struggled.” (Man, LP)
Lack of access to primary school places—from parent of child additional needs
“We are both key workers but we didn't put the children into school because Thomas’s work was based at home. But they were aware that Thomas may have to go out. So when he had to go out to an emergency, oh my goodness, they made our lives as difficult as possible, they made us feel horrendous about it.” (Woman, PP)
Interpersonal level factors Missing childcare support
“So, the biggest challenge for me probably has been that they’re used to me being out of the house and going to work and them being looked after by somebody else, whether it’s teachers at school or at a club or something like that. For the last year, for most of the time they’ve been able to physically see me but I’ve been ignoring them because I’ve been working.” (Woman, LP)
Older relatives don’t want to form social bubble due to concerns about infection
“Yes, I was in a bubble with my parents. There was a point where my mum and dad got really scared so I had, kind of, un-bubbled with them, and bubbled with my partner.” (Woman, LP)
Individual level factors Feeling lonely
“I was starting to feel quite down. I felt like I wasn’t getting enough social time… One of the biggest changes for me in lockdown has been realising that the people that I would’ve listed as friends from before are probably not really friends, they haven’t really checked in with me during lockdown.” (Woman, LP)
Worried about finances—low income
“Finances are stressful sometimes, but I don’t know if it’s just my situation as well. I normally did a budget, but with COVID I’ve ended up being stupid with money and got like little loans and stuff like this.” (Woman, LP)
Worried about children's well-being
“My oldest son, for instance, he’s had some recent mental health issues and I don’t think for a second that he would have had as many issues and had as many difficulties had he had the usual outlets to release his pent up frustrations and anger.” (Man, PP)
  • LP, lone parent; PP, partnered parent.