A study of 2,000 mums and dads with children at home found their work shifts are the top cause of hindering family time (56 per cent), as well as homework (29 per cent) and social media use (20 per cent).
Almost a third (31 per cent) also blame their lack of time together on the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. And a quarter claimed communication within households hasn’t been the same since the economic climate changed.
This comes despite 35 per cent spending more time at home as a unit in the past 12 months due to the cost of living crisis, in fact, 42 per cent admitted they’re usually all in different rooms.
More than a third (34 per cent) have also experienced increased emotional strain in light of the economy.
As a result, the typical week sees families spend six hours altogether - less than an hour a day – and only eat a meal as a household four days out of seven.
A fifth (21 per cent) claim to have had more group meals prior to the cost-of-living crisis and other barriers to dining more often are after-school clubs (26 per cent), different dishes (31 per cent), and varying mealtimes (34 per cent).
The research was commissioned by McCain, to mark the launch of its “Teatime to Talk cards” a collection of conversation starters.
The digital cards have been developed in partnership with British child psychologist, Laverne Antrobus, to help families connect during mealtimes, and improve imagination and problem-solving skills.
Further factors which have hampered quality time were household chores (27 per cent), TV use (21 per cent), and after-school clubs (19 per cent).
When families are at home together, 37 per cent don’t set aside specific time to spend with one another and 49 per cent think there are distractions at home such as TVs and games consoles, which impact quality time.
A quarter of mums and dads polled would like to eat more family meals together to encourage conversation as 42 per cent admitted they struggle to initiate chats with their children.
The most popular topics around the table when they do dine together are school (50 per cent), TV shows (48 per cent), and their kid’s friendships (46 per cent).
And aside from mealtimes, parents are most likely to chat to their children when in the car (57 per cent), putting them to bed (40 per cent), and walking to and from
school (38 per cent).
Mark Hodge at McCain Foods UK&I said: “It’s clear from the research that many families across the UK are struggling to make the most of time together, so we’re delighted to be launching “Teatime to Talk” today, to help families have more quality time with each other over dinner.
“Our cards are relevant for all ages and abilities, and we hope they help families to enjoy those simple moments that matter such as teatime.”
The research also revealed what parents define as family time, with eating together coming top (74 per cent), followed by watching TV as a group (66 per cent) and cooking (46 per cent).
Seven in 10 surveyed via OnePoll actively try and set aside at least one day a week for their family to sit down and eat together, with the evening meal most likely to be when this happens (67 per cent).
Sunday was found to be the day households most often have a group meal (44 per cent), followed by Saturday (39 per cent) and Friday (25 per cent), suggesting weekdays are busiest.
All chipping in with the cooking (36 per cent), a birthday in the home (35 per cent) and kids helping with meal planning (29 per cent) have also helped encourage families to eat together.
However, three in 10 admitted mealtimes are the only time their household get to spend quality time with one another.
Top 15 things that have hindered family time:
My work hours
The cost-of-living crisis
Kids’ social lives
Their homework/coursework deadlines
My work deadlines
My social life
Social media use
Running errands outside of the home
After school clubs e.g. sports clubs
Different eating times
Lack of space in our home