Aren’t able to relax until after 8.30pm? You’re not alone

Busy parents juggling work, chores and children don’t get the chance to relax until 8:39pm.

A study of 2,000 mums and dads found keeping the kids entertained, cooking meals and clearing up after the family mean they don’t get to sit down and unwind until late in the evening.

Cleaning the kitchen, making sure children are in bed on time and putting a wash on are also among the jobs which need to be completed before mums and dads finally get to relax. However, one in six of those polled admitted to using their downtime as an opportunity to do MORE cleaning.

The study, by household towel brand, Plenty, also found that in a bid to get more time to unwind, 44 per cent of busy parents are turning to meal planning while 29 per cent pre-plan their children’s outfits. Almost a quarter have even started a family activity log to keep track of everything that needs to be done.

Leanne McLeod, from Plenty, said: “Every parent knows that raising kids can be chaotic – especially during the day. “This is even more so at the moment, as many parents are juggling work – including working from home in many cases – with having to look after the children without the usual childcare and school schedules.

“Time-saving and efficiency hacks can go a long way to helping parents through this, so that they don’t have to skimp on their much-needed me time and hopefully mean they get the opportunity to relax before bedtime. This is especially important at the moment as parents are trying to juggle both home and work life whilst trying to keep things as normal as possible for their children.”

The study also found 76 per cent of parents feel their days are spent juggling everything – until they can finally try to grab some time to relax for a short while in the evenings. Unsurprisingly, 86 per cent of those polled described parenthood as a ‘balancing act’.

Parents’ stress levels were found to peak in the middle of a busy day, at exactly 11:54am, with money and financial issues the most likely cause of this strain for 55 per cent.

Other top stressors include keeping the house clean (45 per cent), not getting enough sleep (39 per cent) and cleaning up after the kids (37 per cent). Almost eight in 10 also admitted to finding it hard to relax in a living environment that wasn’t clean and tidy.

Consequently, the typical parent dedicates an average of 43 minutes each evening to cleaning their home before they begin to think about putting their feet up. And 77 per cent of those polled, via OnePoll, actively look for products that help to make the clean-up quick and easy, to improve the quality of their evening. However, 78 per cent of women say they do the majority compared to 35 per cent of men.

McLeod added: “Plenty want to help families by providing products that help to make cleaning-up in the evening quick and easy; helping parents free up time to relax at a time when they need it the most.

“Plenty is 40 per cent more absorbent than the next best-selling brand and it stays strong when wet, meaning parents can get through mess quicker with just one sheet. We’re also really proud to support the Shop Responsibly campaign, encouraging people to only buy what they need to ensure all families have access to essential household products throughout this time.”

Television presenter, author and podcaster, Cherry Healey, has joined forces with Plenty to support parents. Together they’ve provided some top tips:

1. Keep talking to each other (children included) about how you’re feeling – I’ve found the kids respond well if I’m honest about being tired – and lots of hugs help too – as long as these are the people you’re already living with.

2. We’ve found that dedicating mornings to learning and home-school activities helps structure the day (and helps with the dreaded, “What are we doing today mum?” questions). Then, we have lunch together at 1pm, then playtime and then boom…it’s almost time for 5pm cartoons.

3. If your children are bored, suggest a competitive game – nothing motivates my kids like a timed obstacle course or a drawing competition with a little prize – that one is a personal favourite as you get five minutes of silence.

4. If you can, get the children involved in food prep and divvy out cleaning duties afterwards. Cooking and baking with children can be really fun, as well as educational – although I often have to take big breaths when it comes to the explosion of flour all over the kitchen.

5. Use any materials you might have in the recycling to get crafty and be creative with playtime. With an empty Plenty tube, we’ve made pen pots. But warning, make sure you have an adult that riffles through the recycling – my kids once made a boat out of yoghurt pots that hadn’t been rinsed – it was not pretty.