Welcome back to the diaries. Throughout 2020 we heard from women across the UK about how their lives have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Now that we find ourselves in another lockdown, we have decided to re-launch the diaries.

With the huge increases in childcare responsibilities women have had to take on during the pandemic, women have also had to provide extra care – physical and emotional – to vulnerable family members. A theme in this week’s diaries has been the toll that those caring responsibilities has had on our diarists.

Many of our diarists are trying to care for their elderly parents, who are suffering from isolation, within the constraints of the lockdown restrictions:

I am my mother's carer and have only seen her for very short periods when I have visited her to help with housework or with food shopping.

We are in a bubble with my 90-year-old mother-in-law. We visit most days and she has a carer twice a day. She doesn’t feel in control of her own life and all the well-meaning and necessary things put in place and current restrictions not allowing visitors or her weekly hairdresser home visit, reinforce her feelings.

I’m worried for the older members of the family who are struggling with the isolation and rely on me for support.

Diarists described how lockdown restrictions were making them more concerned for their parents’ wellbeing and feeling a sense of powerlessness to do anything about it:

My mother has been imprisoned in a nursing home for 9 months, and now coronavirus has got in. It is nerve racking and so sad. I feel impotent to help her - visits are not allowed.

I definitely think my mental health is suffering due to…the responsibility I feel for my mum's mental wellbeing as she lives by herself and in a different part of the country.

My Dad is 86 and lives over an hour away. He is shielding and is in poor health which is a worry. He has help from local people.

The duty to care for relatives has fallen solely on some diarists who wrote about the relentless responsibility and the need for support to meet the demands:

So much of my time is taken with calling her so that she has that consistency and doesn't feel alone and I do regular online shopping for her. I love her and I wouldn't not do this but some support would be nice.

I wonder when I will see people happy again, especially elderly relatives including my mother who operates in a constant state of anxiety. There is no let-up in the informal caring demands of a severely disabled brother and my mother who is blind and deaf.

Other diarists are helping to care for partners and grandchildren: 

I have taken on the shopping to continue shielding my 94 year old husband.

I'm now looking after my two granddaughters two days a week while their school is closed and while my daughter is working. They are good as gold and I feel it's a privilege to be spending so much time with them but of course they are missing their friends.

While for some, their relatives offer them a source of support:

I look after my very independent 90-year-old mother who lives 10 minutes from me. We support each other.

Since my mum has got an iPad, we have regular FaceTime Sunday lunches and this kind of brings a bit of normality to the situation.

The vaccination programme has given hope to some of our diarists, as their relatives begin to be vaccinated:

My mum had the second jab last week so that's removed one huge anxiety.

My 84 year old mother lives close to us and we are bubbling with her. She is OK and has had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine so is very happy.

My parents have both had the first vaccination so I am looking forward to going into their house in April and starting to get some help for my dad who has dementia.


We would like to thank all of our diarists for their contributions this week. If you would like take part in the diaries, please sign up here.

If you feel worried about yourself for a loved one, please take a look at our help for individuals page for a list of helplines and organisations offering support.