LONDON — The typical family spends just six hours together a week, thanks in part to long working hours and time spent diving down the digital device rabbit hole.
According to a study of 2,000 British parents with children at home, most agree that work shifts are hindering family quality time (56 percent). Other factors include homework (29 percent), household chores (27 percent), TV time (21 percent), social media use (20 percent), and after school activities (19 percent).
When families are at home together, 37 percent admit they don’t set aside specific time to spend with one another. The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of McCain Foods, finds half of respondents think there are too many distractions in the home — particularly devices with screens — which impact quality time.
There’s plenty of research that shows how eating meals together as a family has positive effects on everyone. To that end, a quarter of parents would like to eat more family meals together to encourage conversation, as 42 percent say they struggle to initiate chats with their children. The most popular topics around the table when they do dine together are school (50 percent), TV shows (48 percent) and friendships (46 percent).
Aside from mealtimes, parents are most likely to chat to their children when in the car (57 percent), putting them to bed (40 percent) and walking to and from school (38 per cent).
How do families want to spend quality time together?
So what activities do parents agree qualify as quality family time? Eating together was the most common response (74 percent), followed by watching TV as a group (66 percent) and cooking (46 percent).
Seven in 10 actively try and set aside at least one day a week for their family to sit down and eat together, with the evening meal most likely to be when this happens (67 percent). Sunday was found to be the day households most often have a group meal (44 per cent), followed by Saturday (39 percent) and Friday (25 percent), suggesting weekdays are busiest.
All chipping in with the cooking (36 percent), a birthday in the home (35 percent) and kids helping with meal planning (29 per ent) have also helped encourage families to eat together. However, three in 10 admitted mealtimes are the only time their household get to spend quality time with one another.
Almost a third (31 percent) also blame their lack of time together on the impact of the cost-of-living crisis in the United Kingdom. Sadly, a quarter claim that communication within households hasn’t been the same since the economic climate changed.
This comes despite 35 percent having spent more time at home as a unit in the past 12 months due to the UK cost-of-living crisis. But 42 percent admit they’re usually all in different rooms. More than a third (34 percent) have also experienced increased emotional strain in light of the economy. A fifth (21 per cent) claim to have had more group meals prior to the cost-of-living crisis.
All in all, the typical week sees U.K. families spend six hours all together — less than an hour a day — and only eat a meal as a household four days out of seven.
TOP 15 THINGS THAT HAVE HINDERED FAMILY TIME IN THE U.K.
1. Work hours
2. The cost-of-living crisis
3. Kids’ social lives
4. Their homework/coursework deadlines
5. Household chores
6. Work deadlines
7. Bad weather
8. Social lives
9. TV use
10. Social media use
11. Running errands outside of the home
12. After school clubs e.g. sports clubs
13. Different eating times
14. Food shopping
15. Lack of space in home
Report by 72Point writer Alice Hughes contributed to this report.