words Al Woods
Now that lockdown measures are slowly deescalating in the UK, parents across the country are able to take a look back at was likely one of the most challenging experiences they’ve ever faced.
Seemingly overnight, mums and dads were faced with the challenges of working from home, home-schooling, meal-prepping, staying active, tidying up, playing, disciplining and bonding with their kids all at the same time.
In a recent UK-wide study conducted between 14th and 19th May 2020, retailer Menkind surveyed 2,400 UK dads to get a better understanding of how the pandemic has affected their relationships with their children and their overall role as a parent during the government-imposed shutdown.
The survey revealed that of the many activities that brought dads and their children together, keeping active was shown as a major priority within households country-wide.
From changing their diets to becoming more patient, here are the ways staying active and playing sports helped fathers connect with their kids during lockdown.
Dads used sport to care for and bond with their kids
If keeping an active and healthy lifestyle was already a major concern for families, it was only amplified during the last three months. One of the biggest hurdles families across the country face is the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of many young children and teens, thanks to the popularity of video-gaming and a plethora of apps built for mobile phones and tablets.
The Menkind survey revealed that one-third of dads listed making sure their kids were staying active as a top concern. WIth children being stripped away of both school and leisure time with their mates and limited access to outdoor activities, this comes as no surprise.
With more time on their hands, two in five dads played sports and exercised together with the kids with close to half saying they were doing more physical activity together than before. One in ten dads even started practising a new sport.
Dads developed healthier habits that benefited both themselves and their kids
With health and wellbeing a top worry during the shutdown, many dads expressed concern over both the physical and mental health of themselves, as well as their children. A quarter of dads listed “giving each other space” as a primary challenge and concern, while one in five dads were worried about finding a way to cook varied meals during this period.
Although one in five dads admitted to eating unhealthier than they had before, a larger number, one quarter, experienced the contrary, beginning to incorporate a healthier diet in their routine. Almost one in ten dads even began practising meditation to improve their own mental health, with one in four admitting that “it’s okay to fail” and one in five confessing “relationships take work.”
With a healthier diet and improvement in their mental and emotional capabilities, many dads were able to take this period of lockdown to develop habits that benefitted both themselves and their children. For example, two-thirds of fathers said they learned to have more patience, surely something that came in handy during this stressful time.
Dads learned to value time spent with their kids
According to the poll, almost two thirds of dads (60%) of dads have been spending more time with their kids before. After enjoying the extra time spent with their children during this difficult period, dads reflected on their current habits with and without the family and evaluated their priorities.
When asked about the most important lessons learned from their children during quarantine, close to half of dads confessed that they want to spend more time
with their kids going forward, while two-thirds want to be more supportive parents.
With a third of dads saying their relationship with their kids improved since the mandatory lockdown, it’s safe to say that regardless of the many challenges the pandemic has thrown at them, fathers have used this time at home to strengthen their relationships with their kids whilst improving their own habits.
Whether this trend will last, only time will tell. But it’s safe to say that dads are seeing both themselves and their children in a new light, helping both sides appreciate the other just a little bit more.