"Maybe later" has become the phrase overemployed by a generation of hectic parents, new research revealed on Wednesday.
Published: 7:30AM BST 20 May 2010, in The Telegraph (UK)
It has become the response frequently given to children when they asked their parents to play with them.
Researchers found that, despite children being parents' 'main priority', 80 percent admit they don't devote enough time to them. In fact, the report found working parents spend less than an hour a day giving their kids one-to-one attention - with the average child getting just 36 minutes with their mother or father.
Children's responses to the survey painted a similar picture, claiming parents are too preoccupied with working, tidying and checking emails to address their needs.
And almost eight out of ten children said they were fed up of being parked in front of the television instead of being entertained.
The trend - which also showed adults are parenting 'remotely' from their laptops or kitchen sink and continually promising their attention 'later' - was uncovered in a study of 3,000 working parents and their children by car insurance provider Admiral.
James Carnduff of Admiral, which conducted the research as part of its Family Journeys campaign, said: ''The generation of 'Maybe Later' kids shows a worrying trend of parents not spending as much time as they should with their children.
''Parents admit their children aren't getting enough of their attention, and children are also feeling the impact of this, desperate for their parents to spend more time with them.
''We live in ever busier times with many parents taking work home with them once they leave the office, but it seems this is having a negative effect on the relationship they have with their children.
''Parents need to remember that playing with your kids is a great way to relieve stress and forget about work.
''The responses from the children we asked show that parents can't get away with simply sticking their children in front of the TV as that's simply no replacement for quality time.''
The research also found on top of a normal full time working week, busy parents log onto their emails as soon as they get home from work at least four nights a week.
And at least one of the two parents misses dinner twice a week due to working late.
When at home, 70 per cent of mums and dads admit they spend much of their spare time cooking and cleaning rather than playing with their children. And 56 per cent often find themselves promising to play with their children after they've finished a bit of work, checked their emails or completed household chores.
But kids are fed up with being treated like second best. Two thirds said mum and dad are always saying they'll help with homework or play 'later'. Six in ten children said they wished their parents worked less and 55 per cent wished they would leave the cleaning until after they went to bed. Sixty eight per cent said they would like it if their parents had more time to play with them.
James Carnduff added: ''Trying to balance work and home life can be difficult in modern society, but simple things like going on trips as a family can be easy and fun, and don't need to cost a lot of money. ''We're encouraging families to take more trips out together; these family memories are the things our kids remember from their childhood. ''Saying 'maybe later' to children needs to become a thing of the past for parents, as the results of our survey show that the nation's children are well and truly fed up.''
The poll reveals 92 per cent of parents consider their children to be their absolute highest priority in life.
But 62 per cent admit they do regularly say 'maybe later' a lot to their children, without really realising the impact it is having.
Nine in ten parents say they only work to give their children a nice life, and 90 per cent only want to keep a nice house so that their kids have somewhere nice to grow up.
However, 86 per cent acknowledge their child would probably prefer to spend more time with them, rather than playing alone while their parents work or clean.