The demands of long working hours is having a detrimental impact on family life – leaving around three in 10 working parents with less than an hour of quality time to enjoy with their babies and toddlers – according to new research from Tots to Travel.
At a time where there has been widespread debate over long working hours, the new research from Tots to Travel puts in sharp focus the impact of working life on young children – and the amount of quality time their parents can find to devote to them during the working week.
No quality time during the working week
In a nationwide poll, Tots to Travel asked more than 400 parents with children aged under five about the proportion of available time they had during the working week to really enjoy one-on-one time with they baby or toddler. The research revealed that during the typical working week:
- The majority of parents (51%) said they enjoyed no more than three hours quality time during the working day with their toddler or baby.
- For those with full time jobs, the picture was more acute: 62% of respondents said they managed three hours or less a day and 29% said they had just an hour or less of quality time with their young children
Work factors the biggest barriers
Overall 87% of parents cited specific barriers to spending more quality time with their young children. Beyond the time that needs to be spent on household chores (54%), work related factors dominated. For those in full time work:
- 47% of respondents mentioned simply being too tired at the end of a long day.
- 29% blamed having to work late after their usual working day.
- 19% bemoaned the impact of having a long commute to and from work – and its impact on eating up time during the typical working day.
- A further 9% cited the impact of having to do a lot of travelling for their job, which kept them away from home for extended periods.
In an age where the prevalence of dual income homes has soared from 25% to 60% since 1960, the difficulty in getting or affording help around the home was also an issue. Overall, 14% of parents said they didn’t have relatives nearby who could help around the house and almost one in 10 (8%) said they couldn’t afford to pay for a cleaner or home help.
Wendy Shand Founder of Tots to Travel commented: “Our research shows that parents with babies and toddlers have an expansive wish list of activities they cherish doing with their young children at this precious time in their lives. The issue is time. Many parents and especially those with demanding jobs just don’t get enough time a day to do the things that matter with their children. And these time barriers do not change by the number of children in the household, suggesting the notion of just having quality time with one or more children is a challenge for busy parents running a home and with busy work demands.
“The work issue is significant because of the explosion in dual income households since the 1960s. For many families, holidays are becoming those oasis moments during the year when they can enjoy the levels of engagement and quality time they want to have. Holidays abroad and Bank Holidays at home are the points in the year when many young families can stand back from their hectic weekday routine and enjoy the activities they want to do with their children. This Easter weekend could be an ideal moment for parents to think about work and home routines and what they can do to strike a better balance for the summer months.”