How family life has changed since lockdown

18 October 2021
How family life has changed since lockdown


  • Feelings of closeness and bonding improved for most families during lockdown, according to a Leeds University study
  • However, 28 per cent of Britons have been spending less time with their family since lockdown restrictions lifted in July
  • Almost half (46 per cent) don’t have time to eat meals together as a family on a regular basis
  • 79 per cent admit they’ll spend more time looking at their electronic devices or TV screens at home instead of spending time together as a family
  • Three quarters of Britons polled wish they could spend more time together as a family
  • Watching a movie, baking and exercising top the list of activities we’d like to do more of together

As we reach the three-month mark since most legal restrictions on social contact were lifted in England on 19 July 2021, new research commissioned by home heating expert, Alpha Heating Innovation has revealed that the quality time we were compelled to enjoy together as households during the pandemic is already beginning to slip away.

Whilst lockdown presented numerous challenges and disadvantages – including financial worries, home schooling and reduced access to support services, – we, as a nation, had the opportunity to halt the busy pace of life so many of us were accustomed to and instead embrace precious time together as a family unit.

According to a study of British families in lockdown by Leeds Trinity University1, for most families feelings of closeness and bonding improved during lockdown in a way that was perceived as being highly beneficial for wellbeing. However, since social restrictions were lifted in July, research out today reveals that 28 per cent of Britons acknowledge they already have been spending less time with their family.

As a result, almost half (46 per cent) of us don’t have time to eat meals together as a family on a regular basis anymore. With studies demonstrating that the traditional practice of family mealtime can help children develop their social skills, eat more healthily and even keep truancy levels down2, it is worrying that almost half of Brits are not managing to achieve this – especially given that YouGov reported in 2017 that eight in 10 children were at that time having their tea at the table.

Furthermore, the research revealed that when families are at home, 79 per cent spend more time looking at their electronic devices or TV screens instead of enjoying time together as a family. And when focussed family time is carved out, screen time continues to play a role with just over half (52 per cent) professing to enjoy watching a movie together, and almost two thirds (65 per cent) opting to simply watch TV.

Three months in to the new, post-pandemic norm, with many workers commuting again and children back in school after the summer break, it is little wonder that three quarters of Britons wish that they could spend more time together as a family. Those polled wished they had more time to enjoy a family movie, do some cooking or baking as a family, or exercise as a group.

The top 15 ways Brits typically spend their quality time together at home are:

  1. Watching TV
  2. Watching a movie
  3. Baking/cooking
  4. Playing games
  5. Gardening
  6. Exercising
  7. Box-set bingeing
  8. Cleaning
  9. Gaming (on a console)
  10. Group calling/video-calling friends/relatives
  11. Having a pyjama/duvet day
  12. Doing DIY together
  13. Reading together
  14. Doing arts and crafts
  15. Doing a jigsaw

The top 15 ways Brits WISHED they spent their quality time together at home are:

  1. Watching a movie
  2. Baking/cooking
  3. Exercising
  4. Playing games
  5. Watching TV
  6. Gardening
  7. Doing arts and crafts
  8. Having a pyjama/duvet day
  9. Reading together
  10. Exploring family history
  11. Doing a jigsaw
  12. Cleaning
  13. Gaming (on a console)
  14. Group calling/video-calling friends/relatives
  15. Doing DIY together

In response to the research, Alpha Heating is encouraging families to make time when they’re at home to stay connected. Samantha Stack, HR Manager and Mental Health First Aider for Alpha Heating Innovation, comments: “A person’s home is their sacred space and the pandemic enabled us all to re-examine how we interact with those we live with. There are important lessons to learn from the lockdown experience and it’s unfortunate to see the quality time that some of us enjoyed is already ebbing away. Home moments are the ones that matter; and we hope people don’t forget to make space for good, old-fashioned family time.”



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