COVID Shows Parents that Spending Family Time is More Important than Spending Money

family time

As anti-COVID restrictions have eased, we’ve seen a very gradual return to some semblance of normality in our everyday lives in Ireland. Much has been discussed on the topic of the impact to family life in a post-COVID world but the majority of this talk has been centred on negative effects.

family time

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We’ve lived through innumerable bad sides to the pandemic, but here at ParentsandBrands, we wanted to pause to take stock of an unexpectedly positive and potentially long-lasting trend we’ve also seen emerge (both in our own data and reflected in other external studies) over the last 18 months. That is –

Lockdown has increased family time and reframed priorities

In a recent survey we carried out with parents about Family Life post-COVID, we asked parents to share their views on how they think family life will look post-COVID both in the near future and more long term. Parents gave their thoughts and feedback on a variety of areas across this topic including work life, kids’ activities, socialising, family finances, holidays, and more.

By far and away the most positive trend we saw emerge from the data is that despite over a year of being stuck at home and the associated stresses of homeschooling, home working, stretched mental health etc. many parents reported that their relationships with their children improved and strengthened over lockdown.

Now that things are opening up again, there is a big appetite to continue spending quality time with the kids. Parents want to continue doing more home-based and local family activities like board/card games, nature walks near the home, baking/cooking together and having family movie nights.

“COVID has allowed us to make family our top priority and not feel obliged to be here, there and everywhere all at once.”

“I am looking forward to having quality family time on day trips, trips to movies, restaurants, shopping etc. Planning a long overdue family holiday, visiting family abroad and visiting family/friends in Ireland.

83% of parents said they would continue paying for their child’s after-school activities but just under a quarter (22%) plan to reduce the amount of activities they pay for both to save money and allow for increased family time.

A trend that’s happening the world over

Looking online, we found our research findings reflected in various different international studies, with parents looking towards a post-COVID future with a positive outlook for their families. For example:

  • An English study from last year, found that a quarter of parents reported that their relationship with their children improved after the government introduced stay-at-home policies. 
  • In Canada, a survey saw 55% of parents asked say the pandemic has brought them closer to their children.
  • In an American study, 94% of the parents said that during Covid-19 their families were spending more time together. For some of them, that time was a source of stress. But 60% of parents said they were enjoying their kids more during the lockdown.
  • In a Scottish study, nearly 40% of parents who reduced their hours to look after their children reported their relationships had become better

Similarly, parents from these studies also expressed desires to try to maintain increased levels of quality family time after the end of lockdowns. As one parent put it; “In seconds you could be sick, we need to slow down and enjoy life.” 

Spending quality family time is more important than spending money

Our survey also revealed some interesting changes in attitudes towards family spending linked to that refocusing of life priorities. 

Many parents articulated to us that they’ve realised they don’t need to buy as many things for the family to be happy, perhaps signalling a decline in impulse buying and frivolous spending. Shopping around and making sure the things that they do buy are what the family really need, as well as spending money on investing in family living spaces were common themes. A desire to support Irish brands and businesses also came across very strongly in the survey feedback.

family time

“I think we will spend less money on clothes, food and frivolous things. I feel we need less “stuff” to make us happy.”

“I am going to spend savings made during lockdown but definitely not blowing them. We will most likely get the house done up, painted etc. And maybe spend a little more on a staycation than we normally would.”

How brands can connect with parents in a post-COVID world

With changing priorities, brands and businesses will have to adapt their offerings to attract spend from the family market. 

For example, when it comes to eating out and socialising, parents are telling us they have enjoyed not having to book a babysitter, pay for transport and instead have ordered in or bought meal kits as a treat instead. Restaurants and food providers should look at how they can continue to offer elevated off-site dining options alongside eat in. Drinks brands and bars have an opportunity to expand more online with cocktail kits and drinks gifting growing during the pandemic.

“Conscious consumerism” is a phrase we are hearing more and more. Trust, recommendations, value and sustainability are all part of this trend and brands and businesses will need to work on communications, messaging and advertising to show how they’re evolving with the times and build and maintain brand trust.

As mentioned, supporting Irish brands and businesses was a top priority for many during the pandemic. In order for this to continue, Irish companies will need to keep quality levels high, ensuring their online presence is the best it can be. There is a further opportunity online for Irish companies to attract and build brand loyalty with local customers with Brexit in the mix.

Tap into the nostalgia of good old-fashioned family fun

The bottom line of our findings show that good old-fashioned quality family time is in vogue and parents are looking for ways to continue making the very most of the time they spend with their children. 

The great thing for brands is, it’s relatively straightforward to create content or messaging that promotes these values because it’s all around activities that parents grew up around, tapping into a specific area of nostalgia. 

Brands needn’t reinvent the wheel, it’s about updating old ideas and redressing them in new packaging– so brands might share those ideas via modern digital platforms like Instagram or Tiktok, but the aim is still to communicate to parents the benefits of playing cards, making cookies or hanging out watching a movie together as a family etc.

family time

Over on the Mykidstime website, we regularly review our performance analytics to see what is resonating with parents and the popularity of family-fun centred evergreen content like “50 of the Best Family Movies of All Time” or “15 Fun Card Games For Kids” has gone through the roof over the pandemic. Tapping into nostalgia is one of the best marketing tricks out there. As adults, we love to remember the happy times of our childhoods – for many it was a time without worries, when you didn’t have bills to pay, and no adult stresses. Offering parents ideas of how they can recreate their fond memories with their own children will strongly resonate with them, in a more family-oriented post-COVID world.

Would you like business-transforming insights from parents for your business? Use our tailored panels of engaged parents and our dedicated private platform to gather critical insights to help influence consumers to deliver long term profitability. Contact us now to find how we can help.

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