Duchess Kate Middleton revealed that when she tried her hand at cutting hair during the lockdowns, her children’s reactions were pure “horror”.
Just like the thousands of parents all over the country and the world, Kate, 39, has also been facing all kinds of new challenges as she adapts to the new ways of functioning with children, be it the homeschooling or simply keeping the kids entertained while stuck at home. And with the UK’s third lockdown currently underway, the struggle is far from over.
On Tuesday the Duchess of Cambridge jumped on a video call with three other parents, whose children attend Roe Green Junior School in Brent, as well as the school’s headteacher as they shared their experiences with parenting during the pandemic.
Kate admitted that when she tried trimming Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis’ hair, the children weren’t the happiest with the results. This was during a ‘show and tell’ exercise on the video call.
Headteacher Melissa Loosemore asked the group all kinds of quick-fire questions, such as ‘Describe parenting in a pandemic in one word. The Duchess went with the word ‘exhausting’, with all the other parents using words in the same vein, such as ‘hectic’, ‘patience’ and ‘challenging’.
Then they were asked to elaborate on the word, with Kate explaining: “I think as parents you have the day-to-day elements of being a parent, but I suppose during lockdown we have had to take on additional roles that perhaps others in our communities, or in our lives would have perhaps supported us and helped us with.”
The Duchess added while laughing: “I’ve become a hairdresser this lockdown, much to my children’s horror, seeing mum cutting hair.
“We’ve had to become a teacher – and I think, personally, I feel pulled in so many different directions and you try your best with everything but at the end of the day I do feel exhausted”.
The conversation between the royal and the parents built on some of the key issues that were raised in the Duchess’ landmark survey on the Early Years, such as parental wellbeing and loneliness.
The research was released last November, and it revealed that parents struggle to prioritize their own wellbeing, despite the fact that 90% see parental mental health and wellbeing as being critical to a child’s development.
In the call with the Duchess was Nicole Seidmann, a mother of four, who touched on the importance of exercise to her mental wellbeing while parents Musadiq Subar and Rajana Panchani also agreed about the critical value of peer support for parents during this tricky time.
Rajana talked about how she had been forced to adopt the goals of both her children and herself as the homeschooling experience went on, saying: “I used to start each day with a list of things I wanted to achieve that day, and I shouldn’t have bothered because you can’t do all of those things anymore because you’re balancing your current role if you’re working and balancing two different children’s timetables, you’ve got a husband or a partner in the mix which is always complicated!
“You’ve got to still get the supermarket shopping in and you’ve got to do everything else and I find that list of things I’ve got to do every day is just not practical anymore.
“I think I’m satisfied at the end of the day once you’ve done a couple of the important things and that’s good enough.”
Another thing the group was asked to do was to write down who had been their biggest support during the pandemic, with Kate writing down her husband William.
In one of the more lighthearted moments, the Duchess wasn’t scared to admit that her maths skills needed some work as she held up a score of ‘minus five’ when the parents were asked to rate their maths ability after several months of homeschooling.
This was very much alike when Prince William confessed on That Peter Crouch Podcast last summer that he had been struggling to help George, 7, with his Year 2 Maths homework.
Kate told the group: “Being able to share your own experience with others who are going through the same thing makes it feel less daunting and makes you feel less isolated, so it’s really important to reach out to loved ones and friends.
“Despite all the challenges facing us, whether it’s feeling a lot more hectic or pushed within the patience spectrum, it’s been so lovely to hear from all of you.
“I know how challenging it is juggling work, home life, school life and everything else that you as parents are doing, so really well done.
“Fingers crossed, let’s hope for the positivity as you’ve all been saying. Make sure everyone looks after themselves – it’s very hard to prioritise, but it’s definitely needed now more than ever.”
Roe Green Junior School is the place where Kate launched her Mentally Healthy Schools programme back in 2018, with it at the moment being open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children, as well as providing remote learning for all its pupils at home, including a blended approach with daily online ‘Meets’, independent learning and other activities.
The project was launched in 2018, by the Duchess of Cambridge and The Royal Foundation in association with The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, Place2Be and Young Minds. Mentally Healthy Schools is free and easy to use the website for schools, combining reliable and practical resources to improve awareness, knowledge and confidence in promoting and supporting pupils’ mental health.