A new UK-wide poll conducted by retailer Menkind sheds light on how government-imposed lockdown measures have been impacting dads and their relationships with their children over the past couple of months. Despite several challenges, many families are coming together, with dads declaring their relationship with the kids has improved and making an active effort to get involved in more activities, teaching their children but also learning from them.

One in three dads in the UK now feel closer to their children

According to the poll, conducted between 14 and 19 May 2020, almost two thirds of dads (60%) have been spending more time with their kids than before, which contributed to strengthening the family bond significantly. A third of dads say their relationship with their kids improved and that the isolation period brought them closer together.

There are, however, those who were less fortunate: a quarter of UK dads were forced to spend less time with their kids, as they are either empty nesters, their child is in the care of the other parent, or they were required to work long hours during the quarantine. Nevertheless, dads didn’t let physical distance stop them – 1 in 10 dads spent more time with their kids virtually, either by phone or video call.

What is more, spending time closer together encouraged mutual feelings of trust, with almost half of dads – 44%, confessing they confided in one another more than before the lockdown, when asked about their relationship with their kids.

Dads take on new roles as teachers, head cooks or their kids’ confidante

Dads were not afraid to take on new roles during the recent period, becoming the house chef, teacher or homework helper, best friend to their kids, hairdresser and even make-up artist extraordinaire.

Dads engaged in the simple pleasure of family activities as a means to overcome the difficulties of spending prolonged time inside: 2 in 5 played board games and computer games with the kids, the same number did gardening, over a third of dads took on DIY projects, while 1 in 10  fathers used sharing life stories with the kids for this purpose. Over half admitted they were baking and cooking more than before, close to half said they exercised together with the family more, while a big proportion were playing more with the kids: 2 in 5 played more with toys, on par with dads who played video games, while almost half played board games, puzzles or other traditional games.

It was not all fun and games though, as half of dads say they helped out with coursework/homework more than before, as well as engaged in learning and educational activities.

Health, wellbeing and education as top challenges

The positive effects on the family bond didn’t come without difficulties. The top three challenges for fathers during lockdown with the kids were keeping the kids busy and engaged, the challenges of homeschooling and getting kids to spend less time on their phones/tablets.

Health and wellbeing challenges were also on the list, with a third of dads concerned about kids getting enough exercise and a fifth with cooking varied meals during the isolation period. Emotional wellbeing was a focus, with a quarter of respondents listing “giving each other space” as a challenge.

Dads more in tune with their emotions

When asked about the most important lessons learned from their kids during family quarantine, close to half of dads confessed that they want to spend more time with the kids moving forward, while two thirds want to be more supportive of them when they need it, and the same number said they learned to be less impatient from their kids.

Challenging male stereotypes, 1 in 14 dads said they learned to be more in tune with their feminine side. A significant number, 1 in 4, admitted they learned “that it’s okay to fail” and 1 in 5 confessed that “relationships take work”.

Commenting on the new survey findings, Fred Prego, Marketing Director at Menkind, said: “As kids we grow up with this idealised view of our dads as superheroes, which somehow fades away as we grow older and understand they are human, after all. These last few months have seen dads reclaim that superhero role as they’ve been spending more time at home with the family, forming closer bonds, getting more involved in their children’s education, activities and spare time. Despite the challenges of lockdown, it’s reassuring to see that most dads have cherished spending quality time with their kids to the point of wanting to be closer to them moving forward – being a father myself, I’m among them.”

You can download all the high-res graphs from this LINK.

To read more about the experiences and challenges UK dads faced during lockdown, please visit: www.menkind.co.uk/blog/lockdown-dad

Dads stepped up with new roles during lockdown and broke male stereotypes, national survey reveals.