The results of our COVID-19 Survey are in! The last few months have been unlike anything we’ve ever experienced in our lifetime. There’s been thousands of posts in our Facebook group from North Shore Mums, sharing opinions, asking for recommendations and seeking support to help them and their families through the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we begin to emerge from lockdown restrictions, we thought it would be interesting to look back on the last few months to see how COVID-19 has impacted local families on the North Shore. To get these insights, we ran a survey across our website which explored all sorts of issues – health, employment, financial, relationships, home schooling, alcohol consumption and everything else in between. It was extensive! But there were just so many fascinating insights, we had to share as much as we could….
Take a look at the quick-links below to shoot to your area of interest. Or settle back, pour yourself a cuppa, and devour the stats and stories from North Shore families.
- Experiences of lockdown
- Online learning
- Alcohol consumption
- Challenges of Covid-19
- Looking towards the future…
As of 10 June 2020, out of the 570 respondents, nobody had contracted Covid-19, 15% had been tested for Covid-19 and 13% knew someone (family or friend) who had contracted Covid-19.
For the majority of North Shore Mums, the impact of Covid-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health – with 54% saying they’ve felt worse than usual, 27% the same and 19% feeling better.
Other health issues
The health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic reaches much more than – stress, anxiety, depression, over eating, drinking too much alcohol
- Anxiety from pressure from school when I had to send my kids to school as I was an essential worker Each day I was made to feel like I was letting the side down
- Stress from dramatically increased workload
- I have been eating and drinking alcohol too much in response to the stress.
- I gained weight
- Stress from overworking
- Been hard to locate resources for my health condition. People hoarding.
- Worsening mental health, depression, anxiety & agoraphobia. Worsening chronic pain.
- Sure, I get tension headaches & migraines more with the this coronavirus, the media has played a vast contribution to it. There is a lot of anxiety around this new virus. Also I can’t take the flu vaccination, as I had severe side effects in the past years, so I am forbidden to see my Parents in aged care. It’s a emotional time
- Putting on weight from exercising less, being at home more and eating more takeaway to help out local businesses!
Experience of lockdown
Time to do more…
Whilst quarantined at home, this time allowed us to do more things that we may not usually do like…
Neighbourhood walks (73%) Cooking & Baking (66%) Played with my children (58%) Watched TV, movies, etc (51% Played board games & puzzles (50%)
Thanks to social media, you might have felt the pressure to learn a new hobby or skill, it’s reassuring to know that only 14% of people actually had the time to embrace this (so don’t feel guilty if you didn’t!).
What we enjoyed about lockdown
Although stressful at times, there were many benefits to lockdown. Not having to run around as much and living such busy lives was the number one benefit for our families. We also loved spending more time with our families, not feeling the pressure to “do” things and not having to do the commute to work.
|Less running around||74%|
|Spending more time with my family||66%|
|Not having pressure to “do” things||57%|
|No commute to work||43%|
|Spending time at home||42%|
|Walks around the neighbourhood||36%|
|Time to do jobs around the house||33%|
|Chance to relax||14%|
|Helping children with online schooling||13%|
|Video calls with friends & family||11%|
|Getting to know neighbours||6%|
- No rushing around, just being able to take the time to do what we needed to do in our own time. No pressure to attend social events.
- Working from home gives me flexibility and means I don’t have to rush to do school pick up/drop off.
- Our family of five was more relaxes, better rested so we enjoyed spending more time together. I loved helping with remote schooling, learnt a lot about their interests, their strengths, their learning and their wonderful teachers. Loved not commuting to work – gave me more time and energy for the important things in life!
- It was stressful but at the same time lovely to have the kids home all the time and no running around after school to the myriad of activities. Best part – no weekend sport!!
- It’s nice to be able to spend more time at home and not have the hustle and bustle in the mornings.
- Not running around taking my daughter to after school classes. Less time commuting back & forth for work.
- Loved being able to work from home, something that I wouldn’t have been allowed to do if it weren’t for Covid. Working from home meant less time commuting and more time with my family, especially as my husband was also forced to WFH. Altogether really enjoyed the slower pace of life, no social commitments, getting out in nature more since shopping centres were a no go.
- Being with my family and having the time to be away from all the chaos of life and just enjoying the moment with them. The kids loved having so much more time with us
- Doing bushwalks, bike rides and walks as a family
- Having my husband home with our newborns
- Less guilt – a full time single mum – the age old argument, working mum vs. stay at home Mum – I got to be both. So so so lucky to have this time with her
- No school run or lunch boxes!
- Not having to put an alarm to wake up in the morning!
- Not having to receive visitors after giving birth
- Spent more time with my husband as he wasn’t travelling all over the country for business
- The slower pace, less traffic, seeing more families together
- Watching kids achieve things like learning to ride bike without training wheels
- Working on necessary, but neglected parts of my business
Online learning was a big part of our lives for parents with school-aged kids. Whilst some of us enjoyed the experience, more of us found it stressful!
Who managed the online learning?
Of the families who had to manage online learning, in 60% of households this responsibility fell on the shoulders of the mum, and only 5% the Dads took full responsibility. In 12% of households it was shared equally between parents.
As a parent, how did you find the online learning experience?
In order of votes, these statements were agreed with the most…
- Our school was excellent with communication
- Our teacher did an amazing job managing online learning
- I ensured they completed all their daily essential tasks
- I found it very stressful
- I enjoyed working with my children and getting more in touch with the syllabus
- Most days were a struggle
- There was too much work
- I didn’t mind if they didn’t complete their daily essential tasks
- My children really progressed in their education with online learning
- There was not enough work
Some parents shared their experiences…
- The home schooling was all on me to do and required me to sit with the child for most tasks. Some of the tasks required a lot of input from me to teach the concepts and there was little guidance or support from the school. As a result I had little time for my other child or household chores which had also increased with everyone home. Most days were exhausting both physically and emotionally.
- They cover more work at school and nothing compares to face-to-face learning
- It was difficult to get the home schooling tasks done when so much of it was online on various platforms and I was trying to work at the same time. We did the best we could do and I was happy with that.
- I just couldn’t give my kids and their work the attention needed – I work full time and couldn’t afford to be stood down so needed to stay on top of my work game!
- I realised that my kids aren’t really being challenged at school. They were finished their work after a couple of hours and some of it was really just busy work. It was really a mixed bag with the teachers and feedback.
Back to school
Since public schools returned full time on 25 May 2020, 96% of families have their kids back at school. Of these, 72% of parents say their kids are happy to be back, 19% say it’s ‘up and down’ and 4% say the kids are not happy to be back.
The restrictions imposed by Covid-19 have had a huge impact on the status of people’s employment status. Of those people who were employed or were self-employed, 58% either started working or increased working from home. Almost a quarter (23%) had a reduction in their salary, and 16% had a reduction in hour. 7% were required to take paid or unpaid leave. In addition, 9% were either stood down (4%), lost their job (3%) or were made redundant (2%).
|Started/increased working from home||58%|
|Had a reduction in your wage/salary||23%|
|None of these||17%|
|Had a reduction in hours||16%|
|Taken paid or unpaid leave (due to stoppage or shut down of work)||7%|
|Had to close your business||4%|
|Been stood down temporarily||4%|
|Lost your job||3%|
|Changed to a different occupation||2%|
|Been made redundant||2%|
Impact on local business
Some of our business owners share their experiences about what happened to their businesses.
- As I was working on the wedding industry at the time my business was put on hold. Existing clients put a pause on jobs that had been started and there were no new clients coming in. Whilst I could see opportunities to create new products and offer alternative services I didn’t have the time or energy to do so as my time was taken up by home-schooling instead. – Elizabeth, ELK Prints
- I was very fortunate. Some aspects of my work became quieter but others were busier. I was able to adjust where necessary. Because I remote work anyway and my business is B2B and not exposed directly to tourism or hospitality, most of my clients were also largely unaffected.
- I’m a PT, I moved all group sessions to virtual and kept PT clients outdoors. There was initially some hesitation by a few members about the uncertainty of jobs etc and what the pandemic would mean however this only lasted a week then things returned to normal. I had a higher uptake of sessions as people had more time and were stuck at home. Also gained some new PT clients.
- All bookings between 20 March and 25 May were cancelled. Some beyond May have also cancelled/postponed. I was also booked to work at both Sydney Fashion Week and Fiji Fashion Week in May, with both events being cancelled. – Running Under the Sprinkler Photography.
- I lost 80% revenue overnight. Rapidly tried to change service offering to a Sydney-based market but this has not resulted in significant increases in revenue. I am very very concerned for what will happen post September when the rent and mortgage need to be paid in full, I have a large tax bill to pay, jobkeeper stops and business is still not where it needs to be (mine will not recover until we allow people to move here from overseas as well as interstate).
- We were quiet for 4-6 weeks when the cases were on the rise but now it’s slowly returning to what we were. We are a health practice and were able to stay operating although we have had to implement lots more cleaning. I also had to spend lots of time looking for cleaning supplies and paid inflated prices for things that I needed for my business.
- Some projects were put on hold due to clients losing their jobs.
- I make baby and toddlers clothing, soft toys and nursery items which I sell at craft markets. With closure, I had to start a facepage called Simply Sue and am busy setting up a website in order to sell online
- As a family run restaurant that prided its brand on old fashioned service and great quality food, we were forced to then serve takeaway and delivery just to keep our valuable team members employed. We had no choice but to close down our Barangaroo Location but forever grateful to the local Community for supporting our Wahroonga Venue and keeping us alive! – The Butchers Block, Wahroonga
- Child care centres are my business but the government support led to us being much worse off. We were committed to our families and never turned them away but the cost was covered by us and was significant.
- We have only opened this week after nine weeks of being closed. I had to pay half rent so that came out of savings, so that’s looking pretty sad right now. It’s slowly getting back to normal but people are realising they can come back. I own Elletta Skin Therapy in Wahroonga.
- My business is closed and still closed as restrictions with numbers limits our reopening. I have Gymbaroo Ryde and it’s been super hard dealing with the changes. Everyone says to pivot, but there are aspects we just can’t pivot! And information has been challenging to get. – Gymbaroo Ryde
Purses have had to tighten for many families. Since Covid-19, about 45% have seen a reduction in their overall household income. Almost half of families haven’t had a change, whilst a lucky 6% have somehow had an increase!
Reducing financial pressure
To ease financial burden, families have cut back on spending on non-essential items (54%) and groceries (20%).
|Cut down on spending on non-essential items||54%|
|None of the above||39%|
|Cut down on spending on groceries||20%|
|Applied for any of the government Covid-19 financial assistance packages||18%|
|Used savings money to pay for everyday expenses||15%|
|Asked for a pause or reduction in rent or mortgage||11%|
|Asked for financial help from friends or family||2%|
|Applied for deferred payments or an interest freeze on a credit card or loan||2%|
|Applied for a loan, new credit card or an increase to your credit card limit||2%|
Big ticket items
During lockdown, 30% of families bought a ‘big ticket’ item. Those top items?
- Laptop or computer
- Home fitness equipment
- Musical instrument (trumpet, guitar)
- Tablet / ipad
- Coffee machine
Overall, North Shore Mums were happy with the way both the Australian Government and NSW Government have handled the Covid-19 pandemic, with 80% indicating they were either satisfied or very satisfied.
Overall, lockdown had a positive impact on most family relationships – in particular, between parents and children, with 48% saying it had improved (and only 3% saying it had got worse). 32% saw an improvement in their relationship with their partner, whilst 13% reported a decline.
Two thirds of respondents didn’t notice any change in their relationships with their own parents, siblings or friends as a result of lockdown.
|Much better||A little bit better||Same||A little bit worse||Much worse||Not applicable|
Did we drink more during isolation?
Memes about increased alcohol consumption were flying around Facebook, and our stats confirm that we drank more during isolation!
Of the mums who drink alcohol, more than half (54%) drank more than usual during lockdown, whilst 33% drank the same. 6% drank less and 5% actually gave it up altogether!
How often people drank alcohol
20% drank daily, and 59% drank at least 4 nights a week.
This is the question we all want to know the answer to, right? Stuck at home, did this mean we actually had more or less sex? Well for 57% of us, it made no difference. 17% had less, whilst 8% had more. And the rest? Well, they were either too shy to answer, or it didn’t apply to them.
Challenges of Covid-19
We asked what the most challenging thing was about Covid-19. Here are just a few of the responses:
- Working full-time, plus looking after the kids all day by myself. I’m a single mum and struggled with school work and just the added stress of not having another adult at home to talk about the issues. I hear many parents complain about getting school work done while both parents are working from home and it made me angry. They had each other to take turns to help the children, or make lunch or dinner or do the washing and all of the housework. They obviously have no idea how isolating and stressful it would be to have to do everything on your own.
- Having to homeschool primary school kids while still working full time in a demanding executive level job (albeit working from home)
- Managing kids expectations of being home but actually being ‘at school’ and all the distractions that come with being home as well as managing a 4 year old keen to have his siblings to play with.
- Juggling full time work with a toddler at home. Concerns about financial stability in an industry that will remain shut for another year. The frustration of people not taking it seriously.
- Missing my friends and the freedom of my days. Home-schooling meant I had less time for myself then usual so had to give up my own work, passions and interests. I felt socially isolated and very lonely. I don’t know if I would have drunk more or less as I am currently pregnant so gave up alcohol for that reason.
- Not being able to see family and celebrate birthdays, Easter etc
- The house work, the cooking all day, it was like running a full time kitchen and hotel. The dishwasher would go on full cycle 2 to 3 times a day. Kids got lazy & out of routine. So much plates & the washing was endless. Frustrating not to be able to have your freedom and go out. And most importantly for me, not being able to see my elderly Parents in aged care. Every day I don’t see them, is like a days stolen from me. It’s all good for their protection. I will wear a space suit, I still can’t see them. I get emotional at times.
- Thinking about all the people who have lost their jobs, had to home school kids without money for adequate resources, trapped in violent domestic situation, homeless people, refugees
Life after Covid-19: Looking towards the future…
Do you think the Covid-19 pandemic has changed you as a person, and your outlook on life?
- It has made me appreciate a slower pace and made me think about trying not to go completely back to all of the activities and social engagements that we had as a family pre-COVID19.
- More grateful for the small and simple pleasures in life. Trying to think about how to move forwards from here and not return to the crazy busy life I had before.
- We will definitely continue to always have a back up plan. Luckily we prepared for days like these so were ok financially but that won’t last forever. We’ve just had to stay agile- me working more than I want, husband doing more care of the kids than he is used to. Just makes us appreciate each other more and always plan for a rainy day.
- It has made me very grateful for being in a fortunate position, and aware that this may not always be the case. It has made life generally seem more precarious. The suffering of other people has been very sad, particularly local cafés, the people running after school activities, etc, all of whom have lost a huge amount of business and in some cases been driven into bankruptcy. We’ve tried to continue with as many services as possible, such as online drama/language/music classes, to support their staff and to keep a sense of “normal”.
- I appreciate the simple things more.
- Yes, it’s made me appreciate my friends and family more and to remember to slow down and spend more quality time together. It’s also taught me to be more cautious hygiene wise.
- I am now more aware of my environment and risk factors it contains. We’ve changed how we unpack groceries, mail etc. I never go out without hand sanitiser. I won’t hand my children something that’s touched a surface that I have not personally cleaned.
- It’s hard to imagine returning to touching things and people again without worrying!
- It’s made me reflect on what is important
- Taking life easier now and not having to fill up my week for it to be busy.
- Yes, I won’t be in such a stressed state again, work is not worth my health.
- Yes, family always came first, that’s why I only work a 4 day week. But having young children, having their mother there is really good for the mental health and well-being. I will push for working from home options when things return to “normal”
- It makes you think about what is really important. We were always an active family, but have added things like frisbee and bush running to the things we do. I’m baking more and the kids learnt to cook.
How you think the world might be different after the pandemic passes?
- The way people work and travel will be completely different and there will be a massive focus on personal hygiene
- Hopefully employers see that people can be trusted to work from home. It should be the new normal
- Travel patterns will change, and hopefully we manufacture more locally
- I think people have realised what they can do without – how much they really need to rush off to.
- I would love it to be kinder but I think we will revert to our past selfish habits (and hopefully Trump will not be re-elected)
- Less materialistic, kinder people
- Hopefully less consumerist, more conscious of environmental issues, appreciation of how fortunate we are to live in a country that values health and education
- I expect there to be longer term travel restrictions or reluctance to travel overseas until a vaccine is found and tested. Workforce’s will work from home at a higher rate.
- People will hopefully be more cautious about going to work while unwell. I always work from home or take time off when unwell, but most people don’t.
- Probably not much – people forget too quickly – look at the bushfires
- I think other people will slow down their lives a bit more too
- Hopefully people stay home when they have a cold or flu and don’t soldier on, turning up to work sick and infecting all their colleagues.
- Lots of companies will allow people to work from home or partially work from home which I think will be great for some who love to. Everyone will be a lot more aware of their environment and how they are loving from now on.
- I’d like to think people will value healthcare workers, stay at home mums and family life more but I think once big business returns to normal so will the hectic lifestyle, the keeping up with the Jones and the admiration of non essential bull**** corporate jobs that no one needs and no one noticed when they ceased albeit for a short time.
- I think more workplaces would be open to staff working from home, but only if it’s in the interest of the business I. E. To save money on office rent etc. Apart from that I think things will pretty much return to normal.
- We may never shake hands again. International travel will be very different – not sure quite how yet. I think people will have an increased awareness of our vulnerability and the possibility that a pandemic like this could happen again.
What can’t you wait to do?
- See my extended family. I miss dinner with friends, going to the movies, watching my kids play sport but I wont hurry back to those activities.
- Short term: Eat at a lovely restaurant and be served dinner. Long term : travelling
- Girls drinks night out!!!
- Hug my mum and dad Let my kids hug grandparents & cousins, have playdates, trips to the zoo etc without worrying
- Get married
- Go on holiday somewhere in NSW.
- Go on overseas holidays
- Recover financially. Be able to do my job again. Allow my child to play freely and resume activities.
- I’m hoping to be able to visit elderly, ailing relatives in the UK – a trip planned at Easter was obviously cancelled. Given the situation in Europe, it may be too late to see some of them again.
- Have a picnic with a large group of friends
- Go to a movie. Take my girls to Baby Sensory & GymbaROO classes in person!
This online survey was conducted via the North Shore Mums website, between 1-10 June 2020, with 570 respondents.