Family life in the fast lane
So you would have thought that with these time and energy saving gadgets I would have more time to spend with my family. Yes, I did say energy saving. After all I no longer have to walk to the wired-in telephone in the hallway but simply lift the handset placed next to the five remote controls I have next to me on the sofa at any one time. And yes, I have got the wrong one previously and switched over from the news to Hollyoaks while saying a polite “hello” into the remote control. I also once answered my camera.
What these energy-saving gadgets seem to do though is just leave us free to cram in more things to do, ultimately leaving us with less time to spend with the ones closest to us. Or at least spend half of that time responding to an email on the Blackberry or checking our Facebook status on our mobile (Andrew is happy !).
A survey out last week (National Family Week) revealed that the average family now spends just 49 minutes a day together. That’s hardly enough time to share a meal with our children and/or our partners.
More than two-thirds of parents blame this on financial pressures – the need to work more and keep the household running smoothly with extra jobs or trips to the supermarket at unnatural hours.
And it is inevitable that this in turn puts pressure on relationships. The same poll found that nearly half of all parents blame their partner for failing to devote enough time to the family. Some 55 per cent of mothers said their children’s fathers made too little effort – and 38 per cent of fathers accused mothers of the same thing.
I am not sure there is a solution to this, but recognising there are stresses and strains caused by circumstances often outside a couple’s control, and finding a way to deal with them is the best way to steer the family ship.
Of course it is easier said than done. And I can’t see many people, me included, putting down their mobiles or binning their iPhones to help reduce the strain and devote a few more minutes each day to concentrating on family matters.
Husband, father and family solicitor