What’s the secret to domestic bliss in the North West?

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The key to domestic bliss is four meals together a week, more than one tablet and a Netflix account, it emerged yesterday.

Families living in the North West spend 13 hours together each week, just above the national average of 12 hours. A family diary, everyone having their own chores and discussing plans as a couple are among the top ways that families in the North West keep their homes running smoothly. A bigger kitchen was top of the wish list for home improvements among homeowners in the region.

A study into the home lives of 2,000 British families explored the aspects that lead to a happy family life and found making the effort to eat together, a trip away every few months and having both sets of grandparents close by as big factors.

Monthly trips to the cinema, a good coffee machine for mum and dad and at least three televisions were also deemed necessities for a harmonious family life.

The research, which was commissioned by Origin, found having fast Wi-Fi, a ‘treat cupboard’ and putting the kids’ artwork on the walls or fridge were also cited as factors that lead to a happy home.

A good stack of board games, a comfortable sofa everyone can pile on and everyone making an effort to pick their clothes up off the floor also goes a long way.

Modern life can be so hectic that families can struggle to get time together or ensure they appreciate their home life fully. People and their lifestyles change over time and homes need to be able to change with them.

Yesterday Andrew Halsall, Managing Director at Origin, said: “The list of things that people attribute to happiness at home is an interesting mix of traditional processes, efforts to create a warm environment blended with the presence of technology and modern comforts. It’s nice to see that eating together is still seen as the biggest sign of family bonding and a significant part of what people say makes a happy home.”

“Modern life can be so hectic that families can struggle to get time together or ensure they appreciate their home life fully. People and their lifestyles change over time and homes need to be able to change with them.”

“Whether it’s through physical changes like extending or developing the property, or through making a conscious effort to do things together more, building that home environment clearly leads to happiness. After all, an Englishman’s home is his castle.”

Despite the importance of eating together proving the most popular source for a happy family, a third of families said they rarely find time to do this.

While a quarter of families feel they haven’t got a good work/life balance –stats showed the average family gets less than 12 hours a week all together.

The study also revealed that keeping the place tidy, cooking with the children and having in-jokes makes all the difference in fuelling a great home environment.

While a lock on the bathroom door, movie nights and well-lit rooms were also important factors to a house being free of doom and gloom.

A dishwasher saves a lot of grief, while photos of the family around the house, a spacious kitchen and everyone having enough wardrobe space were also ticked off as helpful in a happy home environment.

Narrowly missing out on the top 50 elements for family happiness was the ability to share the remote control, having blinds to keep out nosey neighbours and a set of bi-fold doors opening out to the garden also help.

Having a bigger kitchen was top of parents’ wish list of things they could do to improve their home, while ‘having a good sort out of the whole place’ was second on the agenda. The addition of a conservatory and a bigger garden were also rated highly.

More than two thirds of the families studied felt that they were in definite need of more space at home.

But the children have other ideas when it comes to the home improvements. A tree house is most wished-for, followed by a swimming pool in the garden and a bigger playroom.

Andrew Halsall added: “Space plays such a big part in creating a happy home environment. A lack of space has been shown to impact on the basic lifestyle needs that many people take for granted, such as having enough space to eat together as a family or even entertain friends.”

“Lack of adequate space for a household has also been shown to have significant impact on health, educational attainment and family relationships. While increasing the size of a property is not always possible, changes such as opening up the home to the garden or letting in more light can create a feeling of additional space, without having to extend or move.”

THE 50 TIPS FOR DOMESTIC BLISS

All eating together

Laughing a lot

Keeping the home tidy

Feeling safe and secure

Hugs

Enough sofas for everyone to sit on

Making time for each other

Regular family trips out

Knowing when to say sorry

A family pet

Nice neighbours

Not rowing in front of the kids

A big garden

Cooking with the children

Helping the kids with their homework

Not having secrets

Movie nights

Playing board games together

Putting the kids’ paintings on the walls

Sharing chores

Everyone picking their clothes up off of the floor

Having lots of photos together around the house

Knowing when someone wants to be left alone

Having a treat cupboard

Having a play room for the kids

Having a big TV in the lounge

Having fast Wi-Fi

Having ‘in’ jokes

A large kitchen

Having regular heart-to-hearts

Privacy from the outside world

Having a takeaway night every few weeks or so

Having a dishwasher

Plenty of music

A weekly walk

Nice views

A lock on the bathroom door

Having Sky TV

Well-lit rooms

Having designated days where we spend time together

Double glazing to reduce noise

Everyone having their own tablet or smartphone

Everyone having their own set of keys

Having grandparents nearby to look after the kids

A spacious kitchen

A Netflix account

Having a tumble drier

Big windows

Having several bathrooms

Separate cupboard space in the bedroom