The Decline of Family Vacation...and How It's Affecting Kids

Did you know that families today take on average, a week less of vacation than they did in 2000.

42% of Americans say they have not taken a single day off in the past year.

22% of parents admit it's been over a year since their last family vacation.

39% of parents have unused vacation time available.

85% of parents say they could take off more time to spend time with their family if they would.

W151002_CARMICHAEL_ANALYSISBYv2Americans are working 11 more hours a week than they did 36 years ago.  That adds up to roughly 3 extra weeks of work per year.

And our kids are noticing.  Our "always-on" habits are reshaping our children's lives.

75% of children say their parents don't fully disconnect from work when they are home and over 80% of kids have noticed their parents bringing work stress home with them.

Kids with parents who check in with work most days are twice as likely to say their parents come home from work in a bad mood compared to kids with parents who never check in after hours.

Parents who regularly check in with work after hours are also more likely to have stressed-out kids, by about 20 percentage points.  About one in five kids say their parents do after-hours work from home almost every night.

Does this mean parents are spending less time with their kids?  Not necessarily.  But it's what they're doing with the time that is concerning.  Much of the time is spent in front of a small screen called a smart phone.

Interestingly enough...a study of Disney parks was done to figure out what kids found the most absorbing at the parks.  Was it Mickey?  Cinderella's castle?  Splash Mountain?  No.  It was their parent's smart phones.  Because their parents were always staring at them, the kids wanted to as well...even while surrounded by all the sounds, sights and attractions of a Disney park.

It's not just how much time parents spend with their kids, but what they do with the time as well.  Staring at the screen of a smart phone won't have the same result as doing something together with the smart phone put aside.

Kids also notice when their parents miss important events.  60% of kids say their parents have missed events like school plays, sports games and awards ceremonies - even major holidays - for work.  58% of kids can detail the last activity their parents missed.

Yes, a busy parent might say that today's kids seem to have an endless number of award ceremonies and that many schools don't seek to accommodate parents' work schedules.  But...we must keep in mind the stats of the available days off that are not used. 

The tension...we're not only telling our kids by example that working all the time is acceptable, we're creating a new norm for the next generation.  And it will only get worse.

So what should we do?

Encourage parents to use their vacation time.  And finances doesn't have to be a determining factor.  Kids don't have to have an all-expenses paid trip to the Caribbean.  When surveyed, the most popular activity mentioned was simply joining their school field trip.  Kids just want to spend time with their parents.

Encourage parents to put down their smart phone when they're spending time with their kids. 
"Get off the grid and spend time with your kid."
Encourage parents to put down their phone and make something happen.

Encourage parents to use some of their vacation time to be part of events in their child's lives.  Don't let vacation days go unused when you can use them to attend school events, field trips, award ceremonies, plays, sports events and more.

The time we miss out with our kids can never be reclaimed.  Let's make it count.