A considerable number of dads in the UK are missing key milestones in their children’s lives such as first steps, first words and even school awards and various ceremonies. This is due to increasing working hours and heavy workloads.
On average, a father loses out on three significant family events every month, but feels regret over missing smaller events such as baths or reading-time as often as twice a week. The research which was conducted by notonthehighstreet.com examined 1000 UK dads of children aged 16 and under and found that:
- 62% of British fathers have missed a parents’ evening
- One in five were unable to attend their child’s last school sports day
- Just under a third of dads have missed most or all of their child’s Christmas plays
- A fifth admitted they were ‘lucky’ if they caught one bath time a month
- A similar proportion of fathers said they have no idea what their child’s favourite book is because they miss their bed-times when working late.
Going on long walks, playing pretend and going to the cinema were among the top playtime activities dads wished they could do more of with their children, besides reading comics, sleeping outside in a tent and playing board games.
What Averts Fathers from Everyday Family Activities?
Six in ten dads argued that they only spend quality time with their children at weekends, as long working hours and exhaustion prevent them from enjoying valuable family time. On top of this, working overtime and travelling for business were additional reasons for missing week nights at home, with the gym and other commitments also getting in the way.
One in ten dads confessed to prepare for sleep once they get home, while others said that they just want some time to themselves after a hard day at work.
Interestingly, the sofa was found to be the prime location for more knackered dads, who typically spend their evening watching TV with a beer or a glass of wine.
Working Fathers Under Pressure to Balance Work and Family Life
Many of the fathers polled admitted that it is hard for them to maintain a work-life balance, and over half have questioned whether their career is worth the time they miss out on at home.
A spokesman for notonthehighstreet.com said “We all know it can often be difficult to be home regularly, and it seems this is especially true of the UK's busy dads – missing out on quality family time is sometimes unavoidable". The spokesman added that “the pressure to meet deadlines at work balanced with the knowledge that you’re losing out on precious memories can be hugely frustrating and challenging…The results show that modern dads certainly are under stresses and strains by putting in normal working hours and more, whilst also trying to make birthday parties or parents’ evenings”.
Many dads stated that if they had more time they would help their children to ride a bike, invent science experiments and teach them self-defence techniques, whereas over a fifth would enjoy enhancing their kids’ football skills.
Many felt that encouraging their children at events and messing about with them when they got home from school, would improve the relationship between them. Despite dads’ regrets, six in ten thought that putting their job first is an inevitable factor to supporting a happy family.
All in all, the study shows that long working hours and busy schedules hinder modern UK fathers from enjoying valuable moments with their children and more importantly miss out significant milestones in their kids’ development. The point is, how does a father’s absence affect children’s childhood? Also, how can companies allow working fathers to enjoy a balanced life? Please share your thoughts in the comment section that follows.