The Independent's journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

Worst time to be a parent revealed: Dinner, baths and bed time push stress levels to peak

Parents have revealed the toll of the daily battle to get their under-10s to bed

Lizzie Dearden
Tuesday 31 March 2015 14:01 BST
The school run starts a wave of stress including dinner and bath time, parents said
The school run starts a wave of stress including dinner and bath time, parents said

The “perfect storm” of dinner, baths and bed time pushes parental stress levels to their peak, a new survey has claimed.

Precisely 5.08pm is the worst time to be a mum or dad, according to a survey of more than 1,000 parents by Privilege Insurance.

It calculated that parents spend a total of 177 days – almost six months – of their lives feeding and bathing their children, as well as battling to put them to bed before they reach the age of 10.

Getting a fussy child to eat can be a nightmare

Instructions have to be repeated up to 30 times during the 70-minute evening ordeal, researchers said, with antics kicking off minutes into meal time.

When asked what the worst moment to be a parent was, many said dinner could be a nightmare with children refusing to eat or finish what they were given, trying to get up or fighting with their siblings.

Almost one in six parents said baths were the worst time and a quarter cited bed time as some children take an hour to get off to sleep.

Additional stress is piled on by the school run, homework, the weekly shop, eating out and “leisure” time, with family days out entailing long car journeys and back seat squabbles.

Persuading a child do to homework can be an uphill battle

A spokesperson for Privilege Insurance said many parents surveyed told of embarrassing moments when their children left them red-faced with inappropriate comments.

“Gems recalled with horror by mums and dads include a child asking 'why is that man so fat?' in a doctor's surgery and telling a teacher about their parents' preferred underwear,” she added.

“Another child pulled off Santa's beard in a Christmas grotto.”

The research was carried out in an online survey of 1,012 UK parents with children aged 10 or under earlier this month.

Separate research by childcare website claimed that parents add to their load by bickering amongst themselves, arguing eight times a month on average about how to bring up the children.

Discipline, dealing with tantrums and the moment when one parent gives in when the other has already said no cause the most disagreements, the study claimed.

Respondents also said arguments cropped up over how much to spend on birthday or Christmas, rewards for good behaviour, how much television to watch or food to eat. .

More than half of parents surveyed by thought they disagreed because they were brought up differently themselves, while 40 per cent said priorities caused a rift.

Parents said they way they were brought up themselves caused differences

Top 20 worst moments for parents

  1. Being woken up early in the morning
  2. Tidying up after your child(ren)
  3. Your child(ren) waking you up in the middle of the night
  4. Making your child(ren) do their homework
  5. Grocery shopping with your child(ren)
  6. Making your child(ren) clean their room
  7. Bed time
  8. Keeping your child(ren) entertained
  9. Eating out in restaurants
  10. A child’s birthday party
  11. Dinner time
  12. Getting your child(ren) dressed
  13. Dropping your child(ren) off at school/nursery
  14. Family days out
  15. Going on a family holiday
  16. Picking your child(ren) up from school/nursery
  17. Bath time
  18. Child(ren)’s nap time – morning
  19. Child(ren)’s nap time – afternoon
  20. My children fighting

Source: Privilege Family Report

Top 10 things parents disagree on

  1. How to discipline their child
  2. Giving in to tantrums
  3. One parent saying yes to a child when the other had just said no
  4. One not following through on a threat of punishment
  5. One parent shouting or being too strict
  6. Whether to let a baby cry or self-settle
  7. How much to spend on them at birthdays and Christmas
  8. Immediately seeing to a crying baby
  9. Letting child sleep in parents’ bed
  10. How to reward children


Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in