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.
● One in three UK dads now closer to their children
● Two in three UK dads take on new roles as teachers, head cooks or BFFs
● Children teaching dads to be less impatient, more supportive and be better listeners
● Over half of dads committed to spending more time with their children after lockdown
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 in 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.
What is more, spending time closer together encouraged mutual feelings of trust, with almost half of dads – 44%, confessing they confided in one another more than before the lockdown, when asked about their relationship with their kids.
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.”
Some dads showed their kids a new side: “My 2 boys thought I looked like Father Christmas with my new beard!” said one dad, while another listed “My daughter experiencing me twerk!” as his top funny moment.
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.”
To read more about the experiences and challenges UK dads faced during lockdown, please visit: https://www.menkind.co.uk/blog/lockdown-dad
*Data based on a survey of 2,400 fathers and father figures from the UK, conducted by Menkind between 14th – 19th May 2020.