News Parenting

Parents don’t spend enough quality time with their kids

Thomas Cook
Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Half of British parents spend under one hour of quality time a day with their kids, according to new research.

The Thomas Cook study of 1,500 working parents of children up to six years old found eight in 10 are aware they don’t spend enough time with their children during the average working week.

Among the activities parents are unable to find precious hours for are playtime, exploring new places and reading. Even sitting together to eat at the same time is a struggle for 43 percent of families. While a quarter lack the minutes needed to even talk about what has happened that day.

During the average working week parents will only read with their children for a total of 32 minutes. And play with them for just 43 minutes. Only 36 minutes are spent sitting at the dining table together. And any meaningful conversations are crammed into just 32 minutes a week.

Modern trends

Dr Sam Wass, family psychology from Channel 4’s The Secret Life of 4 and 5 Year Olds, said: “This research from Thomas Cook highlights a growing modern trend. That, increasingly, families don’t get to spend enough ‘together time’.

Parents often have to work hard. And of the time we do spend together, parents and children spend much of it in their own private worlds, staring at screens. But in fact, there’s a huge amount of research suggesting that it’s the time spent together – talking, and doing shared activities as a family – that is most beneficial both for children and their parents. Many of the conversations that we do have with children are focused on giving them order. Things like chores and homework, telling them what to do.

This is important, of course. But it’s also important to engage in shared family activities where your child takes the lead. This happens much more often on holiday. It’s for this reason, I think, that many peoples’ warmest and most cherished memories, later in life, are of holidays they went on as children.”

Foreign food and chat

However, the study found that parents will spend five times as long reading with their kids on holiday. And also 10 times longer playing with them.

Families will sit together for a proper meal nine times longer on holiday than at home. And perhaps most importantly, conversations will cover four hours a week instead of just half an hour.

Chris Mottershead, managing director, Thomas Cook UK said: “Most of us have a precious memory of our childhood family holidays. We’ve been talking to parents and our customers to find simple new ways we can help them spend more quality time together and personalise their holiday to best suit their family’s needs.

In 2018, we’ll be trialling new initiatives at our Sunwing Fanabe resort in Tenerife developed with the help of Dr. Sam Wass. These include book boxes in communal areas so families can read more together and specially designed table cloths in our restaurants. All to encourage family fun and conversations at meal times.”