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Are British Families Closer than Ever Before?

Brits lead a hectic life, often juggling work with family and necessary chores. But, are our busy lives impacting our family time? 21% of Brits spend less than an hour a day with family, which is having a significant effect on our mental health. 

Yet, with Brits now spending the majority of time indoors, are we able to connect more with our loved ones? To uncover, Tap Warehouse surveyed Brits revealing how much time families spent together before the pandemic, if that has changed now and if we are really closer than ever before.

More than Half (55%) of Brits Admit Phones & Social Media Prevent them from Spending Time with their Family

We surveyed Brits to reveal what prevents families from spending quality time together, we asked respondents to pick as many options as relevant, these are the results:

  1. Phones & Social Media – 55%
  2. Work Commitments – 48%
  3. Commute to and from work – 16%
  4. Chores – 14%

One of the biggest barriers to spending quality time is phones and social media getting in the way. How often have you sat down with family, only for you or them to start looking at their phone? While it may seem fine to quickly respond to an email, evidently this prevents you from being present with family. More than half of Brits (55%) confessed to this being the biggest obstacle.

How to Break from Social Media and Spend Time with Family, According to an Expert

Dipti Tait, hypnotherapist and psychotherapist, says “This is why, when we take our eyes away from our devices and connect with the people that are ‘real' in our lives, we get that energy transaction that is much more balanced and nourishing.”

With this in mind, Dipti Tait advises “Finding other things to do with each other, like playing a board game, doing chores together - I’ll wash, can you dry up? 

It’s about creating these positive habits that become normal in your family life, and slowly as these habits become normal, the balance and meaningful connections will naturally happen helping our family units to be a supportive real-life network.”

Tait adds “When we connect deeply, and even in the simple tasks with our family, we are having conversations, having a laugh and also debating and having meaningful interactions and this gives us a sense of belonging, a feeling of long-term reward and also a connection of love.”

16% of Brits Say Their Commute Stops Them from Seeing Family, with the Annual Commuting Time Being 9 Days

The second biggest hurdle to spending time with family is work commitments, with 48% of Brits admitting to this. Brits lead busy lives, which means juggling work with family life. This goes hand in hand with the third barrier – the commute to and from work (16%). With the average commute taking 59 minutes a day, this adds up to an enormous 221 hours, or 9 days, on average being spent commuting. So, it’s not so surprising British families say the commute prevents them from family time. 

No matter how busy your life is, unfortunately, your chores still need to be done. Which is why 14% of Brits say this prevents them from hanging out with their family.

how much quality time did brits spend with family

1 in 5 Brits Spend Less Than an Hour a Day with Family  

1 in 5 (21%) Brits admitted to spending less than an hour a day with their family. Brits work on average 35 hours a week, meaning Brits are spending more time at work than with loved ones. Which isn’t so surprising considering 48% of Brits confessed to their work commitments getting in the way of family time. 

Interestingly, the region most likely to spend the least quality time with their family is London, with more than a quarter (26%) admitting to having less than an hour a day with family. 

But, does not getting to see family really mean anything? A lack of time with family not only impacts the relationship, but our mental health. 19% of Brits confessed to feeling disappointed, and 14% admitted to feeling upset when they don’t get to see loved ones.

Although we’re currently facing a difficult time, there appears to be some upsides. One of which is the amount of time we now get to spend with those we live with and cherish. A whopping quarter (26%) of Brits said their quality time has improved to more than 12 hours a day with family in their household.

This has a huge impact on our health, Dipti Tait, says “Spending quality time with our family, and those in our support bubbles is so important right now. We release a powerful chemical called oxytocin when we connect deeply on a one to one with another human being.”

Tait adds “Oxytocin is the bonding chemical that helps us form trust and sends out love. Oxytocin helps us feel connected and supported, which is what many people are lacking in right now.”

how often do British families eat together

Only 29% of British Families Ate Together 1-2 Times a Week Before the Pandemic

There’s nothing better than winding down for the day with your family and a plate of home cooked food. According to the Mental Health Foundation, eating together as a family helps give us routine and makes us feel more connected to others. 

However, surprisingly, a huge 29% of Brits admit to only eating with family 1-2 times a week. When looking at regional trends, those living in London, West Midlands, and South East, eat together with family the least, with 34%, 27% and 27% respectively admitting to having 1-2 family meals a week. A lack of mealtimes together could prevent families feeling closer.

However, do families make time for mealtimes during a pandemic? Our survey has revealed that 65% of Brits now eat together 5-7 times a week, this was previously just under half of Brits (48%). Even the regions who ate with family the least are now benefiting from more mealtimes. Only 25% (-9%), 14% (-13%) and 5.2% (-21%) of those in London, West Midlands and the South East eat together 1-2 times a week. 

But, how can Brits keep enjoying mealtimes together? Hypnotherapist and psychotherapist, Dipti Tait, advises banning devices at the table if needed, “and perhaps thinking about having a meal around the table together at least once a day.” 

Tait says “Mealtimes together can be super fun. I like to ask everyone a light-hearted question to think about while we eat as a way of encouraging a debate and engaging conversation - in real time.”

She adds “You find out so much new and interesting stuff about your family when you talk to them, and it is so important to listen as well, and once we, as human beings feel heard and listened to - we feel much less lonely.”

The Pandemic Has Affected Men’s Family Time the Most 

Women staying home to look after children is certainly an old stereotype. Although more women are employed than ever before, it appears they’re having to balance family and work life the most. 

Our survey revealed that a quarter of men (24%) admit to spending less than an hour a day with family, compared to 1 in 6 (17%) women. In addition, just 9% of men said they spent 6-8 hours a day with family, in comparison to 14% of women. 

However, during the pandemic 15% of men stated they were able to spend 6-8 hours of quality time with their loved ones.

family time per region

54% of Brits Think the Pandemic Has Made Their Family Closer 

Across the UK Brits feel closer to their family than ever before, with more than half (54%) admitting this. However, it appears some regions are benefiting more than others. 

Northern Ireland seems to appreciate family the most with a staggering 78% saying they feel closer to their loved ones. 26% of those in Northern Ireland now spend more than 14 hours a day with family, compared to just 7% before the pandemic. 

Likewise, those in the East of England are enjoying being with family, with 69% saying their family is closer. Residents in the East of England are relishing in more mealtimes together, with 24% stating they now eat 3-4 times a week.

27% of Brits Have Video Called Friends and Family Every Week 

Although 55% of Brits stated phones and social media are a barrier to spending quality time with family, technology has evidently become a vital tool during the pandemic. 27% of Brits now connect with family through video calls and social media, 1-2 times a week. And 16% of Brits use technology to keep in touch with family, 3-5 times a week.

Technology has especially proved to be an essential way for families to connect in certain regions. Those living in East of England (25%), East Midlands (24%) and West Midlands (20%), stated they have used social media and video calls on a daily basis.

There’s a huge variety of ways for us to feel closer and connected with families, one of them being a homemade meal with family. So, if you would like to enjoy more mealtimes together, why not check our tips to storing your food properly to help you create delicious home cooked meals.

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