Is ‘family time’ a thing of the past?

Is ‘family time’ a thing of the past?

The average family from Northern Ireland only gets 19 days a year where they’re able to enjoy proper quality time together, it emerged yesterday.


Despite having the highest amount of days together compared to the rest of Britian, the average time is just 43 minutes a day a family in Ulster gets to spend with one another without distraction amid a hectic domestic life.

Christmas Day, Sunday roasts and playing in the garden during the summer were the common key instances when we really get to enjoy time together as a family.

Visiting the grandparents, reading to the children at night and lazy Sundays also gave everyone a chance to feel like a proper family, the Ikea study of 2,000 found.

Two in five parents polled from Northern Ireland felt they weren’t getting the balance right in terms of time spent being with their loved ones.

Working long hours or weekends dominated by household chores was the most common stumbling block, while working anti-social hours and frantic routines were common.

That leads to just over half an hour a day that families get to be with one another without regular distraction but even then it’s not easy- eight in ten parents in Northern Ireland admit they often battle with the TV or videogames to get the kids’ attention.

Liz Fraser, author and broadcaster said:

There’s no doubt that the pace of life now is far faster than it ever has been; but it needn’t eat away at our family lives as much as it does.

I’m as guilty as the next parent of not being ‘present’ enough in my family; I’m too often on the phone, emailing, tweeting and so on, instead of BEING THERE.

But it takes very little to stop, think about what is going on right in front of us, put away the distractions, turn down the non-essential phone meetings, and spend time WITH your family.”



  1.  Switch it OFF. Every evening, put your electronic gizmos AWAY for a while. This includes phones, iPads and computers. When a phone is on it can beep, and the second it beeps you will give it your attention. Don’t! Give your attention to your family.
  2.  Quality not quantity. You don’t have to give the entire weekend to ‘quality family time'; just a Sunday afternoon or Saturday morning is fine.
  3.  Make 1-on-1 time with each child; if everything is a Big Family Outing it can seem overwhelming. Just an hour with one child alone can be so much more beneficial and bonding.
  4.  Make spaces in your house where you can actually be together. A cosy corner, a bean bag, a high sleeper with the children’s books and toys underneath, a sofa with lots of cushions; just a place where you can sit comfortably and be together really helps to have that quiet time together.
  5. Remember how fast these days will go by; if you see every day as a day with your children that you’ll never get back again you are more likely to use it to find those twenty minutes to stop shouting at everyone and rushing around, and just TALK to each other, play, read, laugh, watch a film together and so on.


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