7 Things Parents Need To Know About The Second Lockdown

There are new rules on meeting with young children and informal childcare that may help.

We’re here again. Just as parents breathed a collective sigh of relief for getting through half term, a second national lockdown is upon us.

It’ll be different from the first lockdown, of course, with the government seemingly determined to keep schools open this time around. But there are still new rules to navigate, as well as dark evenings and weekends to fill.

Got questions about how it’ll work? Here are seven things you need to know.

Babies and pre-school children are exempt from the two-person rule

Following widespread concern that new parents would be isolated once more by the second national lockdown, health minister Nadine Dorries confirmed that children younger than school age will not be counted within the two person meeting rule. This means a parent with a young child is able to meet a friend or family member outside, without breaking any rules.

Over school age, those dependent on round-the-clock care, such as children with severe disabilities, will also not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside.

You can form a ‘childcare bubble’ with another household

Since the first national lockdown, the government has introduced “childcare bubbles’, which allow parents to form a bubble with another household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under.

This essentially works in the same way as a support bubble, where people who live alone are allowed to join with another household. If family – such as grandparents – are required to help with childcare, you can form a bubble, but you can’t form multiple bubbles.

There are more options for single parents

If you’re a single parent living with children who are under 18, you can now form a support bubble with another household other than the one that includes your child’s other parent.

If you co-parent, your child can go between both parent’s houses, just like the first national lockdown.

After-school clubs are likely to stop

After-school clubs have already been limited during the pandemic and the government says it’ll be updating its guidance on them shortly to reflect the latest lockdown announcement.

However, it has already confirmed that “most youth clubs and groups will need to cease for this period”. So what does this mean for the parents who rely on them?

The government has already confirmed that parents will still be able to access some registered childcare and other childcare activities “where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, or for the purposes of respite care”.

University students shouldn’t return home

If you’ve got older children at university, you’ll probably be tempted to bring them home for lockdown, but the government has requested you do not do this.

It states students must not move back and forward between two addresses during term time. It says students should only return home at the end of term for Christmas and it will be publishing further guidance on how to do this at the end of term.

Joe Wicks (and others!) may be back

Joe Wicks previously promised he’ll bring back ‘PE with Joe’ if we enter a second national lockdown – we’re not sure if this will still go ahead as schools are staying open. Keep an eye on his YouTube channel for updates.

Meanwhile, the Natural History Museum has a published range of nature-themed activities and crafts kids can do in and around your home. BookTrust has a range of free online books, videos and games. If you’ve got a budding illustrator in the family, they can learn how to draw their favourite character.

Read our guide on easy ways to entertain children at home from the first lockdown if you’re looking for ways to occupy little ones. You may also feel inspired by these tips and lessons learned by parents around the world this spring.

Emotional support is out there

There are a number of organisations sharing resources for parents to try to make this difficult time that little bit easier.

NSPCC, for example, has published a series of guides for parents on everything from working from home with your kids to supporting children with anxiety due to coronavirus. The NSPCC advice line – 0808 800 5000 – is also open to parents who wish to talk to someone for support. You can also access mental health support via the charities listed below.

Useful websites and helplines

Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.

Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).

CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.

The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email help@themix.org.uk

Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.