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The research behind our work supporting families facing pressures

09 September 2019

Now that the school summer holidays are over and children are back at school, our Chief Executive David Holmes CBE talks about our research into the pressures many parents and carers are facing.

As part of our Family Monsters campaign this summer, Family Action has been discussing some of the challenges families face during the school holidays, in particular, those who are vulnerable or on a low income. The absence of free school meals, regular social contact and free play or sports opportunities during the holiday period can create additional stress and pressure for more disadvantaged families, often leading to financial, social and nutritional challenges. 

With funding from Brakes Meals & More, we have been delivering our Holiday Hub programme in a number of locations across the country this summer. The programme has supported families in a very practical way by providing meals and opportunities for family bonding through eating, learning and playing together. As well as taking part in a wide range of fun activities and enjoying quality time together, families also have had the opportunity to learn more about good nutrition and keeping fit and healthy.  

We have also published a series of expert blogs, top tips, activities, recipes and real life accounts from parents and carers about how they cope with financial worries and family tensions during school holidays and as children prepare to go back to school. You can read them here.

By the end of the school holidayswe know that many parents feel even more exhausted.”

By the end of the school holidayswe know that many parents feel even more exhausted from juggling work and childcare than usual.  At the same time pressures from work can impact further on family life over this period and we know that the costs of keeping children entertained and active over the holidays plus the inevitable back to school costs, put additional pressure on household budgets. The end of the holidays can sometimes also brings up worries for parents around a lack of quality time together and the happiness and wellbeing of their children.  

Our research shows nearly nine in ten parents (85%) say they face family pressures, and that their main concern is about their children’s happiness (36%) followed by worries about family finances (25%) and lack of quality time together (22%).  

Parents also said that they worry about their children’s use of technology (23%), behaviour and discipline (23%), education (23%), mental health (21%), physical health and fitness (20%). 

What our research tells us very clearly is that family pressures are a normal part of family life. But that doesn’t mean that those pressures are always easy to deal with. The reality is that many of us just don’t know what to do about these ‘family monsters‘. 

That’s why this year, to mark our 150th anniversary, we’re encouraging everyone to have a conversation with their family and friends about the pressures they’re facing. To just get the issues out on the table and talk about them. Talking about our family monsters can make them smaller for most families, it’s what is needed to stop those pressures from becoming overwhelming.  

We know this isn’t always easy, and sometimes families need some additional support. 

Our services can help families find a way forward. FamilyLine, our free and confidential helpline, supports adults struggling with any aspect of family life such as parenting challenges, family conflict, relationship difficulties or mental health and wellbeing. It is open:

Monday to Friday 10am-2pm and 6pm-10pm,

Saturday and Sunday 10am-1pm

It can be reached by Freephone: 0808 802 6666, text message: 07537 404 282 or email: familyline@family-action.org.uk.

If you’re interested in seeing what our families, supporters and experts have had to say around tackling the summer holiday’s family monsters, visit our other blogs with tips stories and more here.