Time-squeezed parents find it hard to give kids full attention

More than one in ten parents of 6 to 10-year-olds believe they only manage to give full attention to their child ‘once or twice a week or less’, according to a new survey revealing the major time-related stresses English families face.

This rises to almost one in five (18 per cent) among parents of ten year olds, according to the research released to mark the start of Parents’ Week (October 22 to 28).

Children were also asked for their views as part of the survey, carried out by Childwise for the Family and Parenting Institute. Researchers found that 59% of children aged 6 to 10 wished they could have more time with their mum or dad.

This compared to only four in ten (42%) who would like to spend more time with their friends. Children were divided about whether to spend more time with siblings, with 24 per cent wanting more and 17 per cent wanting less.

The survey showed that parents in the south were even more time-poor than others around the country. 74% of children in the south and London said they wished for more time with their mum or dad. This compared to just 54% in the North and 45% in the Midlands and East of the country.

But the survey also revealed good news for parents – they are actually spending more time with their children than previous generations of parents did – even though they work more hours.

Some 45 per cent of parents believe they spend more time with their child than their parents did with them when they were young. Only 13% think that they spend less time with their child now than their parents did with them. This is despite a tripling of UK mothers in employment since 1951.

Furthermore, a clear majority (64 per cent) of today’s parents agreed that ‘it’s not the amount of time you spend with your child that matters, it’s the quality of that time.’

Dr Katherine Rake, CEO of the Family and Parenting Institute, said: “Evidence shows children need dedicated time with their parents if they are to realise their potential. It is often the simple things that make a lasting impression on children.”

She added: “We know that parents today are under a great deal of pressure. Workers in this country put in longer hours than most other European nations – and evidence shows the hours are getting longer in these difficult economic times. Greater flexible working rights are the key to ensuring parents can spend the time with their children that is so central to their healthy development and wellbeing.”

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