Research finds New Zealand families feeling unconnected, that life is too complicated

Kid on phone at dinner table
The research from Sanitarium shows that more parents are feeling they aren't having enough family time. Photo credit: Getty

A new campaign has been launched to help Kiwis reconnect with their families after research shows many feel their children's lives are becoming too complicated and pressured. 

The research from Sanitarium shows that when it came to spending time as a family, the most likely activities were eating (43 percent) and watching television (24 percent).

More than 81 percent of Kiwis surveyed thought that their own kids' childhood was more complicated than their own, with a quarter of parents saying their children were involved in some sort of after-school activity three or more days per week.

It inspired Sanitarium to launch the new 'Simple is Good' campaign, which aims to celebrate and showcase simple, fun activities.

Sanitarium senior brand manager Jane Grayson says modern parenting can "feel overwhelming at times". 

"The influx of conflicting new dietary trends has meant parents can feel an added layer of complexity to maintaining an appropriate balance for our children," she says.

"We hope the new campaign will start a conversation among families on how we can all work to together to create a simpler way of life and take that approach to how we eat as well."

Psychologist Sara Chatwin says the research shows that we could all look at finding new ways to "connect" with our loved ones.

"Work-life balance is a constant struggle for some families and parents who work to support themselves and families can feel like they are burning the candle at both ends, balance takes time and planning," she says.

"Patterns and routines help, whereby you commit to the same kinds of activities at the same time each week so parents and kids have something fun or relaxing to look forward to. A walk, picnic, mini-golf or whatever members of the family are interested in."

Sara Chatwin.
Sara Chatwin. Photo credit: Supplied.

Chatwin says along with striving to give their children every educational and recreational advantage, parents feel the same pressure to be ahead of the game when it comes to nutrition.

"They are also time poor and often, as the research shows, confused about what to feed their children. To combat this, it's also helpful to make a plan and you can even get a food routine going with some "family favourites" that get repeated over the course of a month," she says.

Psychologist Sara Chatwin's quick tips for a simple life:

  • Plan! A simple daily outline will give you direction and confidence to achieve whatever you want.
  • Take time to relax, exercise or simply do something that means you've having some fun, chill out with your family and make time for yourself too.
  • Plan breaks/holidays or outings that can be easily achieved. Things don't have to be grand for them to be meaningful, especially for children. The simplest and littlest things can be the most fun; a nice lunch and a walk on a sunny day or a trek around the rocky shore even when it's blustery can be energising and fun.
  • Set rules around social media and device usage.
  • Rest! We all have busy lives with lots of things we really have to get done. Rest and put your feet up, turn off the TV and just chat with your kids.
  • Don't overcomplicate meals and food. Simple is good when it comes to everyday, family meals. Whole foods and raw fruit and vegetables can be quick and healthy.

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