Children spend less than a year of quality time with their parents by the time they reach 18, a new index on family happiness reveals.
Ahead of the Government publishing its own report on the state of the nation’s happiness next year, family holiday firm Butlins has launched its own barometer of harmony at home with a study of more than 3000 parents and children.
And while the majority of families in UK describe themselves as happy and not allowing economic gloom to get in the way of their fun, both parents and kids just wish they could spend more time together. Parents say the need to work longer hours is getting in the way but children would rather forgo extra pocket money to get an extra hour with mum and dad. Children even want the Government to shorten the working day so they can see more of their folks, research shows.
Parents admit that on average they spend just 68 minutes a day with their children, adding up to just 44 weeks in total before a child reaches adulthood.
Now Butlins has appointed its first Director of Happiness to help families overcome obstacles to "together time". Mark Hunter – one of the UK’s only Positive Psychologists - will advise the company on initiatives to help add extra sparkle to family life, starting with a new online resource for parents.
Said Mark: "The research shows happiness really is the new wealth for people which is why the Government is keen to measure it. We wanted to dig deeper into family life by asking both parents and children to rate their happiness and what they thought got in its way. What is surprising and heartening is that in an age where we think kids want the latest gadgets and gear they actually rate time with mum and dad way above material things."
Parents barriers to happiness:
Not having enough money (61%)
Having to work (59%)
The pressure to ‘have it all’ (25%)
Not having enough time with my children (21%)
Kids barriers to happiness:
Not seeing enough of my parents (51%)
Not having enough money (34%)
Parents fighting (21%)
Mum and dad not understanding me (14%)
The research also shows that it is mum who remains the driver of happiness at home with 42% of parents saying mum does all the work while only 7% of parents say dad is the organiser.
Said Mark: "What surprised us also was the fact that stories of economic doom and gloom are not hugely impacting on family happiness with 65% of parents claiming that the economy has had no effect. We even found that for nearly a fifth of kids less money has upped their family happiness because they do more with their parents and siblings because of less cash to go out with their mates."
But while children are showing a real desire for more time with mum and dad – nearly a third want David Cameron to shorten working hours of their parents – they also have one sweet idea for what would increase family happiness. For 15% of those quizzed the answer lies in free sweets for all children.