The good side effects of parenting

A child's handprints on a wooden groyne on a beach.

I had my first Covid jab a couple of weeks ago and have to admit I was a little nervous. Not because of needles, you understand. I have asthma and, as a result, have to get a flu jab every year so I’m very used to them.

No, it was because of potential side effects. Not the big scary one that’s been in the news. I was pretty sure I’d be okay on that front. What was concerning me was that most people I know had felt really rough for a few days after their vaccinations.

I haven’t had a sick day in seven years. So, aside from the odd cold, I haven’t been ill as such. True, I was self-employed for four of those years but it’s still a good record. I’ve kind of forgotten what it feels like to be anything more than under the weather. I’m lucky, I know, but this is where the fear creeps in.

Plus, with school still running on staggered starts and three kids in different year groups, I just don’t have time to be ill until they return to a normal timetable after half term.

The neuroses listed above were my thought process as I rolled up my sleeve. They weren’t helped when the friendly chap who administered it told me not to be surprised if I soon felt rubbish.

So I waited and waited for the flu-like symptoms to knock me sideways. And all that happened was that I got a bit tired. So all that worrying about side effects and the only one I got was one that’s highly common in parenting!

This got me wondering. Are there any other ‘side effects’ of parenting that have actually helped me deal with the pandemic we’re still experiencing?

And the answer is yes. In addition to the good immune system that comes from having three kids and the associated years of learning to operate on a laughable amount of sleep, there are.

Having children has made me much more patient. This is a virtue that has been rather handy with all the time in lockdown we’ve been through.

Keeping them from getting too bored leads to another one. Namely improvisation. Since becoming a dad, I’ve learned that you often have to think on your feet and within a small window of opportunity. This has been invaluable over the last year and a bit!

Then there’s the social distancing side of things. I had a pretty non-existent social life before things went bad, so I don’t feel the loss of it as keenly as others might.

I had long since subscribed to the belief that staying in is the new going out. And that’s thanks in no small part to having kids.

So there you go. While this has been a truly awful time for everyone, the side effects of being a parent have really helped me get through it.

How about you? Has your parenting experience helped you cope with the pandemic?


  1. John Adams

    Well Tom, I felt a bit rough the day after my first shot. Not too bad though, I still took the eldest to her gymnastics class. As for otehr side effects, I think a sharpened immune system has to be one of the side effects of parenting, as is the radically altered social life!

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