The secret to a happy family life? Survey says: time together
62 per cent of Canadians believe spending time with their loved ones is the top reason they're fulfilled with their family life
Today, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), whose mission is keeping Canadian families close, released their second Family Togetherness survey, which found that time together is one of the biggest factors in family happiness.
According to the survey conducted by Ipsos, 91 per cent of parents across the country are happy with their family life. Canadians recognize the value of strong family relationships with nearly two thirds (62 per cent) choosing time with their loved ones and 72 per cent believing close-knit relationships with their kids contributed to their overall satisfaction at home.
Time spent as a family was a big factor in family happiness: Canadian families spent on average five hours together as a family every weekday – and that number jumps to 12 hours for the weekend! In fact, those who were most satisfied spent an average of seven hours more a week together as a family than those who weren't. Interestingly enough, income levels didn't play a significant role in overall satisfaction, despite 47 per cent of Canadians thinking more disposable income could improve their family life.
So, how are Canadians spending time together with their family?
The definition of quality time is changing as Canadian families find ways to bond together in the face of busy schedules and increasing technology use. Highly rated activities included gaming and watching TV or movies as some of the top-shared activities at 34 per cent and 76 per cent, respectively. Simple things like the time spent in the car on the way to school or activities was also important to more than a third (39 per cent) of Canadian parents.
Time together to pause and connect is important for all families; for families staying at a Ronald McDonald House, family time becomes all the more precious when you have a sick child. Kim Garniss, who stayed at RMHC Southwestern Ontario while her daughter Lauren was treated at a nearby hospital, said that maintaining a sense of normalcy was important for her family. Eating supper together and maintaining a bedtime ritual of story time and songs before tucking the kids into bed were important ways they spent time together.
When families like the Garniss family need to travel for their child's treatment, they leave behind their traditional support systems. Family time allows these families to strengthen their bonds in a difficult situation. RMHC keeps over 25,000 families a year together, which helps them deal with the emotional, intellectual and physical realities of their journey.
"Family time doesn't have to be a big event," says parenting expert Alyson Schafer. "By connecting with your full attention on smaller tasks like folding laundry, putting on snow pants, and even gaming together, you're strengthening family bonds and reaping the benefits of quality time."
"We found from the survey that time together to pause and connect is important for all families," says Cathy Loblaw, CEO of RMHC Canada. "And, certainly for families staying at a Ronald McDonald House, family time becomes all the more precious when you have a sick child. It's the simple things our families appreciate most – family dinner, watching television and even doing the laundry together – anything that gives them a little bit of normalcy and time together when life is anything but."
"Whether the kids were playing in playground at the Ronald McDonald House or making a craft together, we tried to do as much as possible to feel somewhat 'normal' during this difficult time," said Kim Garniss, who stayed at RMHC Southwestern Ontario while her daughter Lauren was treated at a nearby hospital.
About Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) Canada
In Canada, 65 per cent of families live outside a city with a children's hospital, and must travel for treatment if their child is seriously ill. The RMHC network of programs in Canada helps to keep more than 25,000 families close to their sick child and the care they need each year. The 15 Ronald McDonald Houses provide out-of-town families with a home to stay at while their child is being treated at a nearby hospital, while the 16 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms provide a comfortable place for families to rest and recharge, right inside hospitals. Through the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, basic medical care is available to underserved communities in Alberta.
About RMHC's Family Togetherness Survey
The RMHC Family Togetherness survey was conducted in partnership with Ipsos. The survey reached 2,013 parents of children aged 0 – 18 across Canada.