The Easter holidays have traditionally been the time for families to get together. I think it is practically the same all over the world – at least in those parts where Easter is celebrated. Anyhow, we went to a relatively nearby beach resort for an extended weekend, and one thing that struck me was that there were quite a lot of families there. I suppose I shouldn’t have been that surprised as this resort is well known for being family-friendly. The many other times that I have visited this place, though, I didn’t see as many families with kids. Another thing that was good to see was how much time the parents and kids spent with each other. We would be sitting there enjoying the sun and sand, and we would see other parents and their children doing the same. Even those with teenagers were having a great time with each other! (Now those with teens would know that this phase is not the easiest when it comes to parenting!)
I couldn’t help but feel happy that in this day and age of family dysfunction, I was surrounded by people who valued time spent with the family; children and parents who genuinely seemed to enjoy being around each other.
Lest you think that this is a mere impression on my part, let me share with you an article published recently in a New York Times blog. Written by Tara Parker-Pope, it talks about how family time has grown – surprisingly. She writes that while modern parents continually moan over how they do not have enough time for the kids due to all the responsibility heaped on their shoulders, a recent study shows that the parents of today actually spend more time with the family as compared to parents of previous generations.
She quoted numbers to back up her statement:
The study, by two economists at the University of California, San Diego, analyzes a dozen surveys of how Americans say they use their time, taken at different periods from 1965 to 2007. It reports that the amount of child care time spent by parents at all income levels — and especially those with a college education — has risen “dramatically” since the mid-1990s. (The findings by the husband-and-wife economist team of Garey Ramey and Valerie A. Ramey appear in a discussion paper presented in March at a Brookings Institution conference in Washington.)
Before 1995, mothers spent an average of about 12 hours a week attending to the needs of their children. By 2007, that number had risen to 21.2 hours a week for college-educated women and 15.9 hours for those with less education.
The figures for 2007 are impressive, aren’t they? If you think about a week as being 40 hours (for those who work, that’s the normal time spent at the office), half of that is spent on childcare! That number can easily rise for stay at home moms (or dads, for that matter).
Now, the question is this: how much time do you spend on your children? I suppose we shouldn’t really be fixated on the numbers alone, but it’s a great start. The year isn’t halfway gone, maybe it’s time that you re-consider the amount of time that you allot for the family.