Ahead of the Government publishing its own report on the state of the nation’s happiness next year, family holiday firm Butlins has launched its own barometer of harmony at home with a study of more than 3000 parents and children.
And while the majority of families in the UK describe themselves as happy and not allowing economic gloom to get in the way of their fun, both parents and kids just wish they could spend more time together. Parents say the need to work longer hours is getting in the way but children would rather forgo extra pocket money to get an extra hour with mum and dad. Interestingly the survey found that the biggest barrier to children’s happiness is spending enough time with their parents. This reflects my daughter’s comments in a piece of work she wrote about herself. When asked what made her happy, she wrote
Spending time on my own with mum or dad.
Parents admit that on average they spend just 68 minutes a day with their children, adding up to just 44 weeks in total before a child reaches adulthood.
This doesn’t reflect my own family situation, as a stay at home mum I probably spend too much time with my children for my own sanity. My husband on the other hand works long hours and at some considerable distance from home so our time as a whole family is very precious.
Now Butlins has appointed its first Director of Happiness to help families overcome obstacles to “together time”. ‘Director of Happiness’ for Butlins, now that has to be added to my list of dream jobs. Mark Hunter – one of the UK’s only Positive Psychologists – will advise the company on initiatives to help add extra sparkle to family life, starting with a new online resource for parents.
I checked out the happiness resource. It is made up of 3 main sections:
Financial tips from Family Budgeting Expert – Dan Plant
Tips on looking great in less time from Beauty and Make Up Expert Sarah Jaggar
My personal favourite - tips from Life Coach Emma Ranson Bellamy on balancing work and family time
The Key is about spending quality time as a family and Emma has some useful tools to help you reflect on the quality of your family time and some suggestions to make it more fulfilling below are a small sample.
- Gain perspective: Make a list of the things that are important to you – everything from your children or partner to your car or phone. Then next to each thing write M for material or R for relationship. Then consider losing something from each list; how do you feel? Would losing things from the M list be a real inconvenience? But what about list R? How does losing these things feel? Make a plan to invest your best self in the relationships that are important to you.
- Make a time capsule: Create a memory record for all the family to treasure in years to come. Your capsule might include family pictures and introductions to you all - perhaps filmed and saved onto a CD; a newspaper from the day you put your treasure together; biographies of each family member with inside information on your favourite hobbies and TV programmes.
Agree to open it up at regular intervals, i.e. every 7 years and then add to it. This could become your own family tradition for years to come which grows into a unique and very modern family tree.
- Reflect and wind down: At the end of each day find a moment to re-connect with each other. It might be finding out what your child did in one of their lessons or planning an evening out with your husband or partner.
- Make a wish list: At the start of a new school term, get together as a family and make a list of things you all want to do. Good planning means that anything is possible!
A Happy Days game providing you with the chance to win a Butlins break is also featured.