Top 15 things limiting family time – including work hours and cost-of-living crisis

A study of 2,000 mums and dads, with children at home, found their work shifts are the top cause of hindering family time (56 per cent), as well as homework (29 per cent) and social media use (20 per cent).

Almost a third (31 per cent) also blame their lack of time together on the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. And a quarter claimed communication within households hasn’t been the same since the economic climate changed.

More than a third (34 per cent) have experienced increased emotional strain in light of the economy.

As a result, the typical week sees families spend just six hours altogether – less than an hour a day – and only eat a meal as a household four days out of seven.

A fifth (21 per cent) claim to have had more group meals prior to the cost-of-living crisis and other barriers to dining more often are after-school clubs (26 per cent), different dishes (31 per cent) and varying mealtimes (34 per cent).

Enjoying the simple moments

The research was commissioned by McCain, to mark the launch of its ‘Teatime to Talk’ cards, a collection of conversation starters.

The digital cards have been developed in partnership with British child psychologist, Laverne Antrobus, to help families connect during mealtimes, improve imagination and problem-solving skills.

Further factors which have hampered quality time were household chores (27 per cent), TV use (21 per cent) and after school clubs (19 per cent).

When families are at home together, 37 per cent don’t set aside specific time to spend with one another and 49 per cent think there are distractions at home such as TVs and games consoles, which impact quality time.

A quarter of mums and dads polled would like to eat more family meals together to encourage conversation, as 42 per cent admitted they struggle to initiate chats with their children.

The most popular topics around the table when they do dine together are school (50 per cent), TV shows (48 per cent) and their kids’ friendships (46 per cent).

And aside from mealtimes, parents are most likely to chat to their children when in the car (57 per cent), putting them to bed (40 per cent) and walking to and from school (38 per cent).

The research also revealed what parents define as family time, with eating together coming top (74 per cent), followed by watching TV as a group (66 per cent) and cooking (46 per cent).

Seven in 10 surveyed, via OnePoll, 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 per cent).

Sunday was found to be the day households most often have a group meal (44 per cent), followed by Saturday (39 per cent) and Friday (25 per cent), suggesting weekdays are busiest.

Says Mark Hodge at McCain Foods UK&I:

“It’s clear from the research that many families across the UK are struggling to make the most of time together, so we’re delighted to be launching ‘Teatime to Talk’ today, to help families have more quality time with each other over dinner.”

Top 15 things that have hindered family time

  1. My work hours
  2. The cost-of-living crisis
  3. Kids’ social lives
  4. Their homework/coursework deadlines
  5. Household chores
  6. My work deadlines
  7. Rubbish weather
  8. My social life
  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 our home
Chris Price