· Great British Family Report paints picture of typical family in 2017 – from work to finances
· Biggest worries include money, children’s’ happiness and lack of quality time spent with kids
· Mums much more hands-on with chores – but also control the purse-strings
· But despite pressures of family life, 91 per cent of British families are happy and content

A portrait of British family life in 2017 reveals parents are under constant pressure as they juggle finances, kids and responsibilities, according to a new report. But despite the burden of family life, more than nine in ten parents are happy with life.

Nationwide’s Great British Family Report was commissioned to produce both a snapshot of the average family but also to highlight the pressures affecting parents – from the costs of living to the struggles many face in fulfilling their roles as parents, partners and workers.

The report, which polled 2,000 families, shows that on average families have two children, a pet dog, an income of £29,688 a year, live in a three-bed house and drive a Ford Focus. However, the insight also shows parents work an average of 30 hours a week, and on average invest as much time doing household chores as spending time together (18 hours).  And in a tip of the hat to the busy role mums play in the family unit, the survey reveals that women are far more likely to manage the household finances than men, and also do an average of seven hours more housework per week.

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Phil Smith, Nationwide’s Head of Current Accounts said:

Our report shows us that family life isn’t always easy, with home ownership, striking a work-life balance and keeping the children entertained a fine art. But while it is clear that time is at a premium and finances are being squeezed, it’s heart-warming to know that through thick and thin the vast majority of us are happy.

“As Britain’s biggest building society, we naturally see lots of families in our branches. One of the things we notice about them is that regardless of their financial circumstances, they all have the same need – to have peace of mind that they can manage their money”.

Family portrait

The poll shows that British families tend to have two children (45%), while around a fifth (19%) have three and nine per cent have four or more. The average age for starting to have children is 27 years old, with the second child happening on average at the age of 30, according to the research. Those with three children tend to have the third at 33 years old.

As well as children, the families surveyed had an average of one pet, with a dog being the companion of choice, closely followed by a cat. In terms of the cars they drive, the most popular family vehicle is a Ford Focus. The average amount spent on the main family car was £8,911.

Two thirds (67%) of parents are married, according to the research, with one in ten (10%) either single, divorced or separated.

British families surveyed enjoy an average of two holidays together a year, with an average of one in the UK and one abroad.  While one in in eight families (13%) aren’t able to go on holiday together at all. Nearly a third of families (30%) spend more than ten per cent of their annual income on going away on holiday per year – demonstrating the importance many place on relaxing and having dedicated time with loved ones.

Money talks

The survey shows that women are more likely to control the family finances, with over a third of women (38%) saying they manage the budget, compared to just a quarter (27%) of men. The average household earns £29,688 a year, according to the poll, with one in five (20%) earning £18,000 or less. Families have an average of around £8,000 squirreled away in savings for themselves, the poll reveals, while the average savings of the eldest child being £2,723. Families owe an average of £1,618 on credit cards, £1,315 on personal loans, £1,496 on student loans, £896 on car finance and nearly £500 to the bank of mum and dad. More than one in nine families polled (11%) have more than £20,000 in savings, according to the research.

And when all the main bills have been paid, families polled say they’ve got an average of £183 of disposable income a week to spend for the whole family, which amounts to around £46 per person, per week, assuming a family of four. While two in five (41%) say they have less than £115 spare cash each week.

But with most of their money going on bills, entertaining the kids, paying school and childcare costs, parents say they only spend an average of £30 a month per household for themselves for things like hobbies and luxury items.

Doing it for the kids

Just over half (51%) of British families surveyed use childcare, including breakfast and afterschool clubs, with children attending sessions two days a week on average.  This costs families around £2,000 each year, the poll shows. However, school is also expensive, with clubs, activities, kit and extra tuition costing families a sizeable £800 per year on average. This comprises of:

· £171 spent on clubs at school
· £224 spent on school activities
· £261 spent on school kit
· £145 spent on extra tuition

Our house

The poll shows that British families have an average of three bedrooms, two toilets, one family room and one toy room.

Parents pay an average of just under four-and-a-half times their household income when they bought their family home, with the majority (78%) of families having a mortgage of £164,695 still to pay off.  Although one in ten (10%) are lucky enough to own their home outright.

Technology plays an important part of household content, with families saying they own an average of two televisions, two tablets, two laptops, one computer, three phones and two games consoles.

The average overall value of these household tech items was £806 for televisions, £398 for tablets, £560 for laptops, £381 for computers, £562 for phones and £379 for game consoles. While toys around the house tally up to an average value of £587.

Happy families

According to the Nationwide poll, 91 per cent of parents surveyed class themselves as happy with family life, with nearly a third (31%) saying they are extremely happy. This is despite parents conceding they argue with family members on average twice a week and find themselves spending the same amount of time doing household chores (18 hours on average) as the time they spend together (18 hours).

· The research also found that families surveyed spend an average of ten hours a week watching television, but only six hours a week invested in spending quality time together – defined as time spent with children completely undistracted. Getting in the way of this includes work (44% parents reported this as the top reason), household chores (34%) and children leaning towards TV and gadgets to pass the time (25%). Nearly double the amount of women (40%) than men (22%) say chores get in the way of family time, while more men (58%) than women (36%) say it is work.

However, the tradition of the family meal is still a firm staple for British households with the poll showing that on average families eat together at the table four times a week, compared to only twice a week in front of the television. British families polled have an average of one family takeaway together each week.

Working 9 to 5

Research into the household routine found the average family get out of bed just before seven o’clock each morning, while the average time to be out of the door for those who leave for work is ten past eight. The average week for a working mum or dad, according to the poll, is 30 hours, with men doing around 35 hours a week and women doing around 25 hours.

In the evening the kids are tucked up in bed on average by 7.45pm, with parents on average relaxing for the first time that evening shortly afterwards and taking themselves off to bed by 10pm. Although broken sleep may be on the cards, with respondents saying they are woken in the night by their children at least once a week on average, with parents claiming to get just over six-and-a-half hours sleep a night.

Let me entertain you

Families spend an average of £558 a year keeping their children entertained or busy, the research indicates, although many manage to keep their offspring busy without needing to spend a penny. The top five ways parents keep their children busy are:

1. 65% watch a film at home
2. 53% go for walks or outdoors activities
3. 52% discuss their day or week
4. 50% help children with homework
5. 48% let their children entertain themselves

Gadget time also plays a large part of keeping children entertained in British households, the poll suggests, with a third (35%) of parents admitting to using gadgets in this way.

Why worry?


When it comes to worries, money tops the poll for two in five (41%), while a third (34%) worry about their children’s happiness, almost a third (31%) feel they don’t spend enough quality time with their children and 31 per cent feel they don’t earn enough. Men’s worries centre around work, with over a quarter (27%) concerned about work life balance, compared to nearly one in five women (19%). Some 19 per cent experience work stress (19%), compared to 14 per cent of women.  Women’s worries centre around children, with nearly a third (31%) concerned that they are not a good parent, compared to nearly one in five men (19%) and nearly a third (34%) worrying about the quality time they spend with their children, compared to a quarter of men (26%).


And it seems families have plenty of regrets too according to the poll, with two in five (40%) wishing they had saved more, over a third (37%) regretting not travelling more, a quarter (25%) wishing they had earned more, 16 per cent regretting working too many hours, with men (20%) regretting this more than women (13%) and around one in seven (14%) wishing they had got a bigger house. Some 13 per cent wished that they had more children, although this was more of a regret for women (15%) than men (8%) and around one in ten (11%) regret settling for their current job to support the family.


Families also feel guilty about losing their patience so easily with their children (45%), for allowing too much gadget time (27%), wishing they had spent more time together as a family (24%) and regretting not taking their children out as often as they should (23%). This may be the reason why more than a quarter of parents (27%) are concerned that they might not be good parents, or are not doing enough for their family (21%).

When I’m cleaning windows

Families also despise a whole range of parental chores, according to the report, with in excess of a quarter (27%) saying constantly tidying up after children is the worst chore of all, closely followed by getting jobs done around the house (22%), disciplining children (18%), getting children to bed (16%) and getting them to put the iPad down or turn the TV off (16%).

But according to the poll, women despise parental chores more than men, with more than one in five (21%) men saying they don’t have a chore they can’t abide doing. This compares to just one in nine (12%) women. And in a tip of the hat to the dual roles of many women, the poll also reveals women do a good seven hours more household chores a week than men.

Phil Smith, Nationwide’s Head of Current Accounts, added:

Families should make time to review the household budget regularly.  Staying on top of finances and learning to put any excess cash away will ensure that goals can be set and achieved. It also provides a cushion for any unforeseen costs or problems arising at short notice. While mobile and internet banking can help keep you informed and in control of your finances, even on the go”.

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