Parenting-Related Exhaustion During the Italian COVID-19 Lockdown

Daniela Marchetti, PHD; Lilybeth Fontanesi, PHD; Cristina Mazza, PSYD; Serena Di Giandomenico, PSYD; Paolo Roma, PHD; Maria Cristina Verrocchio, PSYD


J Pediatr Psychol. 2020;45(10):1114-1123. 

In This Article


Twenty-six percent of the sample reported that a significant other (i.e., relative or close friend) had been infected with COVID-19, and 9% of these suffered the loss of a significant other. A few respondents declared that they had been personally infected (Table I). Seventeen percent of the sample reported significant parenting-related exhaustion (with scores ≥25). Furthermore, most parents reported a clinically alarming level of distress (84% with scores >14 on the GHQ-12), and mothers showed higher levels of parenting-related exhaustion than did fathers (d = 0.63).

The multivariate regression model is reported in Table II. Pre-existing condition in step 1 accounted for 0.6% of variance, significant variables were maternal role (β = −5.755, p < .001), occupation (β = −1.575, p < .05), number of children (β = 1.662, p < .01), children age (β= −0.383, p < .001), children with special needs (β = 3.002, p < .01). In the second step, COVID-19-related variables were added but none of these had a significative impact in the analysis (ΔR 2 = .003). Contrary to our expectations, in fact, COVID-19 variables were not significant in determining emotional exhaustion. For example, living in the most infected areas of Italy (i.e., the northern regions of Lombardy, Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Marche, and Veneto) had no effect on parenting-related exhaustion, compared to living in the least infected areas (i.e., central and southern Italy) and the loss of a loved one from COVID-19. However, the variables of the first step remain significant. In the last step, psychological variables were added and, as expected, greater parenting-related exhaustion was predominantly independently predicted by psychological distress (β = 0.23) and, to a lesser extent, by lower parental resilience, motherhood, having a child with special needs, being single, having fewer perceived social connections, having a large number of children, and having younger children (Table II). The final multivariate regression model accounted for 29% of the variance.