BOSTON — At a time when parents are experiencing heightened stress and isolation in quarantine, an organization that provides parenting resources is seeing a spike in online traffic.
With the mission of preventing child abuse and neglect, the Children's Trust empowers moms and dads with the tools they need to provide nurturing, stable environments for their kids. The websites consist of videos and articles with information and advice.
Intended to prevent head trauma to newborns, All Babies Cry provides stress relief and calming techniques for parents of infants - tips from how to hold and soothe babies to breastfeeding and sleeping advice.
Part of the increase in web traffic is likely due to free access to All Babies Cry. The Children's Trust began providing a free access code to videos and information when the pandemic began.
But the spike is indicative of a much larger need for parenting support in these unprecedented times, Sarita Rogers, Deputy Director of Programs for the Children's Trust, told Boston 25 News.
The increased interest isn't alarming, Rogers said; it's encouraging. It means families are doing their best to get help, especially without their usual support system while in quarantine.
"What we are encouraged by is that, even when families don't have access to neighbors, their friends, whomever they might have gone to in the past for support, they know or can find a resource that is starting to fill that need for them," Rogers said. "More than anything, parents want to know that what they are experiencing is normal, that they aren't the only one who has just about reached their limit in terms of frustration with themselves and how they're interacting with their child."
Eliminating that isolation factor is key in preventing stressful situations from escalating and leading to trauma, Rogers said.
"We do know from research the risks that lead to abuse and neglect, and isolation is one of them," Rogers said. "Parenting already is a very isolating experience. Anyone who's tried to get out the door with a newborn or toddler knows the effort that can take. Even more so now, parents don't have someone to talk to."
Bailey Schendell, a therapist who has helped countless moms and dads parent through her private practice in Arlington, has found herself using Children's Trust resources and recommending them to her mom friends.
"This website offered me articles or things I can take action on or do with my kids, which is really the most important thing I'm doing right now," said Schendell, a mom of one biological child and two stepchildren. "It makes me feel more empowered, like I have more agency."
Among the helpful advice were tips to provide structure for kids, who are experiencing as much anxiety as their parents during the pandemic.
"Now I am responsible to be their parent and their teacher and a short-order cook, right? It's like, I am everything to them all the time," Schendell said of all her duties as the kids are home from school and in the house around the clock. "Being reminded that I needed to provide structure really helped me and really, once we provided that structure, reduced the stress of everybody in the house."
The Children's Trust also runs the Healthy Families program, providing home-based support particularly for young, first-time parents, many of whom experienced abuse or neglect in their own childhood.
Since the pandemic, the program has been operating virtually, offering thousands of sessions by video conference. Already without support systems as they raise their children, many of the moms and dads in the Healthy Families program are now especially in need of continued support.
"All parents love their kids, and all parents want to be the best parents they can be," Rogers said. "And so we're happy that parents are going out and seeking information to help them do just that."
To access the Children’s Trust’s free parenting resources, visit The Children’s Trust website here.
Download the free Boston 25 News app for up-to-the-minute push alerts