The Keep Time for Children campaign is one of the flagship initiatives of the Relationships Foundation.
Families are key to our society. They are crucial for raising the next generation and teaching them social skills, as a well as providing emotional, physical, financial and spiritual care. What children want and need more than anything else is time with their parents. Yet today’s children are being time-starved. Keep Time for Children focuses primarily on the hidden crisis of weekend working. Over the two days when school-aged children will be at home, Findings from the National Centre for Social Research, commissioned by Keep Time for Children, reveal that around 1.4 million parents are working regularly through the whole weekend and over 2.5 million families are affected by a parent working regularly over the weekend.
These parents are more likely than others to be poorly qualified and on a low income. Already at a social disadvantage, they can’t afford to lose their job and often can’t risk arguing for working hours which will let them spend time with their family. Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive of Working Families remarks, “Low-waged parents are particularly vulnerable to work at weekends. They simply can’t afford to lose their job, and often can’t risk arguing for working hours which will let them spend time with their family.” Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2002) found that 75% of those who work weekends do not do so out of choice. Keep Time for Children is campaigning to give parents that choice.
The Rowntree report makes it clear that weekend working is having a damaging impact on family life. “Parents who worked on Sundays were considerably more likely than other parents to report that their work frequently disrupted activities with children, as well as family activities.” There is a large body of research demonstrating that time spent with parents is fundamental to children’s well-being and development. Even the simplicity of eating meals together as a family is a predictor of educational attainment.
As a society, we have a responsibility towards our children both as vulnerable members of society and in nurturing the next generation. Not only is it right that we should take preventative measures to avoid generating even greater social problems related to alienation such as crime and anti-social behaviour, we actively want to strive for a flourishing and healthy society. A key way of doing this is to Keep Time for Children.
After our initial work on the Keep Time for Children campaign we developed the ‘Family Day Bill’ which we hope will be taken up by Parliament in the near future.
Children need to spend time with their parents if they are to grow up as happy and well-rounded individuals. The Family Day Bill would give every parent of school-age children a weekend day off – the very time when children are not at school and need parenting. This would be achieved by extending existing flexible working legislation, addressing the increasing prevalence of ‘shift-parenting’ and of young children being left ‘home alone’. Employers would have to facilitate parents taking the same day off because the couple relationship is important in itself and vital for child development. We are ready to renew this campaign when the right moment arrives. Click on the pages of our leaflet below for more details of the campaign.
Click here for research Studies which highlight weekend working issues
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