Contributed by Attwells Solicitors
17/06/2020 - Menkind
Ahead of Father’s Day, a new UK-wide poll conducted by retailer Menkind sheds light on how government-imposed lockdown measures have been impacting dads and their relationships with their children over the past couple of months. Despite several challenges, many families are coming together, with dads not only spending more time at home with their children but also enjoying an improved relationship, making pleasant discoveries, teaching their children but also learning from them.
Challenging period a positive impact on father-children relationship
According to the poll, conducted between 14 and 19 May 2020, almost two thirds of dads (60%) have been spending more time with their kids than before, which contributed to strengthening the family bond significantly. A third of dads say their relationship with their kids improved and that the isolation period brought them closer together.
There are, however, those who were less fortunate: a quarter of UK dads were forced to spend less time with their kids, as they are either empty nesters, their child is in the care of the other parent, or they were required to work long hours during the quarantine. Nevertheless, dads didn’t let physical distance stop them – 1 in 10 dads spent more time with their kids virtually, either by phone or video call.
Games, gardening, films and baking to keep sane
With more time on their hands, dads engaged in the simple pleasure of family activities as a means to overcome the difficulties of spending prolonged time inside: 2 in 5 played board games and computer games with the kids, the same number did gardening, over a third of dads took on DIY projects, while 1 in 10 fathers used sharing life stories with the kids for this purpose.
Among the lockdown activities dads engaged more in, over half admitted they were baking and cooking more than before, close to half said they exercised together with the family more, while a big proportion were playing more with the kids: 2 in 5 played more with toys, on par with dads who played video games, while almost half played board games, puzzles or other traditional games.
It was not all fun and games though, as half of dads say they helped out with coursework/homework more than before, as well as engaged in learning and educational activities.
Health, wellbeing and education as top challenges
The positive effects on the family bond didn’t come without difficulties. The top three challenges for fathers during lockdown with the kids were keeping the kids busy and engaged, the challenges of homeschooling and getting kids to spend less time on their phones/tablets.
Health and wellbeing challenges were also on the list, with a third of dads concerned about kids getting enough exercise and a fifth with cooking varied meals during the isolation period. Emotional wellbeing was a focus, with a quarter of respondents listing “giving each other space” as a challenge.
Dads more in tune with their emotions
When asked about the most important lessons learned from their kids during family quarantine, close to half of dads confessed that they want to spend more time with the kids moving forward, while two thirds want to be more supportive of them when they need it, and the same number said they learned to be less impatient from their kids.
Challenging male stereotypes, 1 in 14 dads said they learned to be more in tune with their feminine side. A significant number, 1 in 4, admitted they learned “that it’s okay to fail” and 1 in 5 confessed that “relationships take work”.
Lockdown funny moments were abundant
The lockdown didn’t come without its funny moments, with many dads experiencing their fair share of comical family situations. Among the most popular funny moments were kids crashing Zoom work calls on several occasions, pets crashing work calls, or dads themselves being the ones crashing their kids school/hobby Zoom classes.
The survey also collected some hilarious anecdotes from dads. While some dads admitted to “countless pranks pulled on each other” with the family and “passing air when online”, others found creative ways to cope with the quarantine: “I had a bit of a melt down and locked myself in our loft, my daughter and wife found this hilarious. Little do they know I have a chocolate stash up there.”
Commenting on the new survey findings, Fred Prego, Marketing Director at Menkind, said: “As kids we grow up with this idealised view of our dads as superheroes, which somehow fades away as we grow older and understand they are human, after all. These last few months have seen dads reclaim that superhero role as they’ve been spending more time at home with the family, forming closer bonds, getting more involved in their children’s education, activities and spare time. Despite the challenges of lockdown, it’s reassuring to see that most dads have cherished spending quality time with their kids to the point of wanting to be closer to them moving forward – being a father myself, I’m among them.”
But what about after lockdown? The poll of 2,400 dads and father figures across the UK also revealed the top things they’re looking forward to most after the lockdown ends.
• Travel bug alert: Topping the chart is a holiday for more than half of dads, with a trip to the beach coming close for 43% of dads
• Social butterflies: Close to half of dads are looking forward to celebrating with friends
• Much-needed alone time: 13% look forward to sending the kids away after the prolonged family lockdown
• Work, work, work: close to a fifth are looking forward to going back to work (not from home) and 7% to go back to the office
• Haircut, pub and a cheeky Nando’s: 2 in 5 dads are anxious to get a haircut, a third to go to the pub and 15% long for a Nando’s
To read more about the experiences and challenges UK dads faced during lockdown, please visit: www.menkind.co.uk/blog/lockdown-dad
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