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We read about quality time and family time regularly but I’ve just read that the average UK family spend a mere 49 minutes per day together as a family. Not really even enough time to share a meal. That's a pretty shocking statistic when you think about it, isn't it. Lots of parents work their socks off to support their family and provide a home, food and all the usual for them. But it would seem that the very thing they are working towards supporting, namely 'family life' is something neither they nor the children actually seem to benefit much from. Very sad!

There was a survey a while back highlighting the issues facing modern family life in the UK by children and parents alike. From the results it's easy to deduce that children seem to have a better idea of what parenting is all about than their actual parents in many cases. This really does highlight the short amount of time families actually spend together.

A lot of mums and dads think that money is the biggest problem when it comes to spending quality time together as a family. But that's not strictly true. I mean, you don't have to go out to theme parks, bowling and the cinema or wherever to have fun as a family. There's plenty of fun to be had just going for a walk, going out for a bike-ride, visiting the local park, playing board games and baking. I love these eco-friendly activities here. You can get children involved in DIY projects around the house and in the garden. You can even get them cooking the family meals with you and eventually for you with a bit of luck.Teach them how to be green and grow your own veg. You can help plant, pick, prepare and eventually eat together. It's time with Mum and Dad that children need and want - they don't need you to spend money on them all the time.

Playing sports and reading together are often forgotten about when it comes to thinking about how best to spend quality time with the kids. Reading to your children before bed can be a precious time. They're relaxed, it's nice and quiet and having a snuggle together is lovely. Going to the cinema can be so expensive, particularly when it comes to buying all the add-ons like popcorn and ice-cream. So try closing the curtains in the living room, sticking a family film on and making some popcorn quickly in the microwave. This costs virtually nothing and when you have younger children this suits them right down to the ground. One bonus being that when your 4 year old needs a wee right at the good bit, all you need to do is press Pause and send him or her off to the loo!

So many mums and dads are missing out on precious family time and think there's nothing they can do about it. But they can. We can. Don't spend that extra half hour in the office at the end of the day. Get back for bath-time. Read the children a bedtime story and give them big cuddles. At the weekends, if there are jobs to do around the house, then get all the children involved too. A 4 year old can help sort the washing out into darks and lights and learn a valuable lesson at the same time. Your 6 year old can help with painting the fence or their bedroom wall. Everyone can help clean the car. It's not rocket-science.

Spending a bit more fun time with the family only takes a bit of rejigging of your everyday life and it will make all the difference in the world!

by Kathryn Crawford, parenting writer, Mum to 3 girls, Step-Mum to 2 boys, Nanny to Dylan and founder of MrandMrs50Plus.com


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