The stress of lockdown was enough to push one in 10 Kiwi mums and dads to parental burnout - but others found the experience gave them more quality family time.
That's according to a new University of Canterbury study that surveyed more than 100 parents here, as part of a wider study spanning 15 countries.
Dr Cara Swit found about 10.5 per cent of parents here experienced high levels of parental burnout - a combination of chronic stress, exhaustion and feeling dissatisfied.
"Any levels of parental burnout are concerning, so we need to understand the influences behind these figures and what can be done to support parents who are struggling," Swit said.
Interestingly, lockdown itself wasn't a strong predictor of parental burnout.
"For some parents, lockdown was a positive experience that gave them more quality time with their children," she said.
"Forced restrictions allowed time for family, creativity, and exercise and some parents valued this time. For others, they missed the natural break that regular childcare arrangements and social activities provided.
"Parenting during lockdown was constant, parents didn't get a break. Lockdown seemed to exacerbate existing challenges for some whānau."
The study results showed that 83.7 per cent of parents said Covid-19 had a positive impact on their parenting, compared to 26.8 per cent who had a negative one.
"Those who had a negative experience were typically already challenged before lockdown," she said.
"Parents who used violent parenting behaviours, parents who had difficulty shifting focus from themselves to their child, parents who were not working or in paid employment, and those parents living in a relatively disadvantaged neighbourhood were at highest risk for parental burnout during the lockdown period."
There were also protective factors that helped parents to weather lockdown.
These included the independence of children and parents' ability to regulate their own emotions.
For Christchurch parents there was some benefit of having developed resilience through the tragic events of the earthquakes and the mosque attacks.
The study sample was small, and would have benefited from more Māori and Pasifika representation, however it offers valuable starting points for further investigation.
"What is great about these findings is that it shows that there are strategies parents can learn to protect them from burnout," she said.
"We can teach parents ways to promote independence in their children and to also develop skills and strategies to regulate their thinking and emotions, particularly during times of uncertainty and heightened stress."
To prevent parental burnout, parents could address potential stressors before a pandemic hit - or other major changes landed.
"If they are pre-prepared with strategies to manage their own emotions and behaviours and they have helped their children to become more independent, they have already protected themselves from the possible negative effects that can come with chronic stress or burnout during a pandemic," she said.
"In fact, parents' emotional regulation and children's independence can be preventive factors of parents experiencing burnout, not just in a pandemic but at any time."
Three tips to avoid parental burnout in lockdown
• Teach your children to be more independent – even younger children can learn to make a simple lunch or a snack. Older children can be more self-directed. That way children are not relying on you, the parent, for everything.
• Self-regulation – if you tend to be overwhelmed by your emotions, it may be time to take charge and learn how to calm yourself. This will help children to keep calmer and will model positive behaviour to them as well.
• Shifting your perspective through challenging situations can be difficult but a little bit of optimism can go a long way to getting you through the tough times. Use positive self-talk and focus on the positive aspects of the situation.