What Is Happening In Australian Families?

I was invited by the Macquarie Bank to attend a round table discussion on the attitudes and behaviours of Australian families in Sydney on Tuesday. This discussion was coinciding with the release of their report ‘A Family Portrait’. The report is the result of a comprehensive online study of more than 2,000 Australian families.

The study was very thorough in the sample it selected as they wanted it to be representative of the Australian population in terms of factors like age, gender, marital status, location and house structure profiles.

I was particularly interested in attending this event as it was exploring similar issues to what I have been exploring on the blog through my own surveys – goals, budgeting, health and happiness.

Angela Mollard convened the discussion and I was impressed with the research she had undertaken to get to know my blog and those of the other bloggers in attendance.

For two hours we discussed the results and how it related to us and our readers. It was an enlightening and thought provoking session. As a blogger lots of what I do is all online based, but I do enjoy the opportunity to meet in person and discuss topics of interest with intelligent women.

Below is some highlights from the data and discussions, but you can download the full set of infographics and a fact sheet that summarises the research here – Macquarie Bank’s Family Portrait.


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Respondents were given a list of around 25 words to describe how they feel with life and those who discussed their hopes, dreams and financial goals are happier than those who don’t. Those who discuss their goals are also more likely to describe their lives as comfortable, enjoyable, rewarding and exciting.

This is similar to the results from my own survey earlier this year. Those who set goals and who review them regularly are more likely to fit in activities they want to do into their lives like exercise.

Personally, I find goal setting for myself and those my husband and I set together, a concrete way of making sure we achieve things in our life that make us happy. Through setting goals around things like sporting endeavours, family time together, financial savings we make a real commitment to them and work to achieve them.

And the best thing about goals is it is never to late to set them! We are almost exactly half way through the year. Next week on the blog I will be conducting my half yearly review. If you haven’t set goals for this year, this is a perfect time to start. If you are not sure with where to start with goal setting, you might like to look at these older posts:


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The data on chores provided plenty of interesting discussions!  The biggest point for me being that 68% of fathers with partners believe they are doing their fair share of cleaning, yet their female partners think their contribution is much less at around 48%.

Mr I has increased his workload around the house over the years and more so the last couple as I have created my own online business. A question I do get a lot from readers is how do you go about getting your partner to help, so I know the division of workload is an issue for many. I gave my tips on how to share the workload here and dedicated a chapter on “Your Partner” because it is such an important part of a mum’s life.

I did however see that my husband and I do fit the stereotypical relationship, which also shows up in the data above. I do take care of more things inside the house and he does the majority of stuff outside of it.

I have considered before and did so again when seeing these results, what message does this send to my children? I do sometimes get outside and tend to chores there, my husband does do washing and tries to cook once a week schedule permitting and he is also the ironer of the house. So I think they do see us both do other activities and I think choice is a significant factor here. I am choosing to do these indoor tasks over another, but am capable of doing the others. I can ask Mr to help and do housework inside and he will. Never does he give the impression that there are tasks he will not do because he is a male.

Struggles of family life

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The Macquarie Bank survey also asked respondents about the biggest struggles of family life and while finances did rank the highest, it wasn’t by much and was followed closely by spending time together, health and fitness. The readers of Planning With Kids had very similar responses when asked about the challenges of family life and that has been why I have run series of posts on these issues this year – health and fitness, finance and on top of the newsletter article I wrote on spending individual time with the kids, I have a series planned later this year on your partner.

Single mums and dads

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As is reflective of society a section of the analysis was dedicated to single parents.  The results found while single mums would describe their life as enjoyable, busy and challenging, the majority of dads say life is boring and scared.  Unfortunately the single mother who has to attend the discussion couldn’t make it at the last minute, so I would love to hear from single parents as to what they think of this data and how closely or otherwise it reflects their attitudes.

Key take aways for me

Talk, talk and talk! Talk about:

  • Your life dreams, what you want from it, your goals etc with your family – it is beneficial to your happiness.
  • Money with kids so they can become  financially literate.
  • The division of labour inside and outside of the house. Make sure each partner is happy with the way the workload is spread.

What would your family portrait look like?  How would you describe your life at the moment?