THE first Family Togetherness Index for Northern Ireland has revealed that families who are very active experience a much stronger sense of ‘family togetherness’ than inactive families.
The Family Togetherness Index was developed by Center Parcs Ireland, which is due to open a luxury forest resort in Longford next year, in collaboration with Child Psychotherapist Dr Colman Noctor and examines what brings Northern Irish parents and their children together and makes them happy.
The nationally representative study was carried out among parents of children aged 16 and under and found that there is a direct correlation between the happiness a family unit feels and the level of family togetherness they experience.
Satisfaction with quality of time spent with their children, satisfaction with physical activities they participate in as a family, frequency of moments of closeness and work/life balance were the key factors that contributed to the overall Index score.
Northern Ireland achieved a score of 64.6 (out of a possible 100) with 16 per cent of parents feeling ‘extremely happy’ over the past six months as a family unit – while 42 per cent felt ‘happy’.
According to the research, 71 per cent of families are physically active together with 19 per cent of those claiming to be very active.
The Index shows that physical activity is a key contributor to family togetherness and thus happiness, with very active families enjoying 48 per cent stronger family togetherness than inactive families.
Despite the high proportion of families participating in physical activities together, 51 per cent of parents would like to be doing more.
However, 29 per cent of families in Northern Ireland described themselves as inactive as a family. The Index found that these families enjoyed a far lower level of family togetherness or happiness as a result.
It’s the simple physical activities that families enjoy most together – walking the dog emerged as the top activity that families enjoy, followed by going to a beach and swimming together as a family.
Over half (56 per cent) of those surveyed revealed that they are less than satisfied with the amount of quality time they have with their children during the week and 15 per cent admit that they are dissatisfied.
In addition, 43 per cent of parents said they were less than satisfied with their family’s work/life balance.
Over six in 10 parents in Northern Ireland frequently experience moments of true closeness with their children. Mums have these moments 13 per cent more often than dads and it’s the everyday conversations like ‘what do you enjoy?’ and ‘how was your day?’ that connect parents with their children on a closer level.
The family moments that provide real joy, according to parents and children alike, include family meals, movie nights in, the day the holidays start, chatting on the way to school and family get-togethers.
Center Parcs Ireland will open in Longford Forest in summer 2019, offering a new, luxury destination for families to spend quality time together. For more information visit www.centerparcs.ie