New study: Millennial parents struggle to enjoy fun moments with their kids

(BPT) – All parents struggle with raising their kids to the best of their ability, and each generation has its unique challenges. A new study shows that today’s millennial parents are having a hard time relaxing and having fun with their kids and that they wish they could create more spontaneous family moments. Between the looming potential of an economic downturn and the realities of today’s busy households, parents worry their kids are being shortchanged and that they’re unable to devote enough time to family activities — whether planned or spur of the moment. The study, conducted by Wakefield Research* for Hostess Brands, uncovers some of the obstacles getting in the way of family fun, as well as identifies actions parents would like to lean into while their kids are young to create more spontaneous moments of joy.

Just how worried are millennial parents?

Today’s parents are quite concerned about providing more fun for their children. Nearly three out of four parents (70%) admit they’re worried they don’t spend enough time doing fun activities with their child(ren), with approximately one-third (31%) reporting being “extremely” or “very worried” about this. Nearly all of the parents surveyed (93%) cited a specific obstacle they feel gets in the way of being spontaneous with their kids.

What are the biggest obstacles getting in the way of family fun?

The survey identified two of the biggest hurdles preventing parents from creating and enjoying fun with their kids, whether through planned family activities or unplanned adventures.

  • Finances: Perhaps not surprisingly, a family’s finances are often an issue, with approximately two-thirds of parents (63%) saying money limitations prevent spontaneity and nearly half (46%) reporting that planned activities with their children are among the first to be cut when budgets are strained. The survey also found that those with household incomes less than $100,000 were significantly more likely to cite finances as an obstacle (73%) than those with household incomes more than $100,000 (51%).
  • Busy schedules: Between jobs, school and after-school activities, today’s over-booked families often lose out on opportunities to simply enjoy being together. Nearly one-third of the parents surveyed (30%) say weekly schedules crammed with activities are among the top obstacles to family spontaneity and 41% cite job demands as getting in the way of being spontaneous during family time. Nearly three in five parents (59%) say they’re so focused on planning structured activities for their children that they don’t allow enough time for spontaneous fun.

Keeping up with the (social media) Joneses

One obstacle today’s parents face that their parents and grandparents did not have to deal with is the pressure they feel to post their family fun online for all to see. Nearly three out of five (58%) parents report feeling pressured to create “shareworthy” family moments to post on social media.

The value of fun experiences

On the plus side, parents clearly recognize the value of spontaneous fun and the elements required for creating those special moments. Parents believe their children value experiences over material goods, with nearly two-thirds (62%) agreeing that their children would be more excited about a surprise trip to somewhere they’ve always wanted to go than a surprise gift of a toy on their wish list. And parents also value experiences more: Three out of four parents (75%) report they would get more joy and fulfillment from giving their children experiences during the holiday season as opposed to physical gifts.

Having special experiences together may be the key to more joyful holidays. The vast majority of millennial parents (90%) say creating spontaneous family moments this holiday season will be more emotionally rewarding than previous years — and over half (51%) believe spur-of-the-moment family adventures are the most memorable. What is one crucial element of fun, spontaneous moments? Nearly all millennial parents (99%) say sharing indulgent snacks is a big part of enjoying spontaneous moments as a family.

Find delicious snacks for the whole family while enjoying fun, spontaneous moments at

*The Hostess Brands Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. millennial parents, between Aug. 9-15, 2022, using an email invitation and an online survey. This data has been weighted to ensure accurate representation of U.S. millennial parents.

Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.