2020 Survey Results

Each year Fathers Network Scotland asks families in Scotland about how they're doing. During 2020 we have been living through interesting and often challenging times. Therefore this time, our anonymous survey has captured a snapshot of what life has been like for dads during lockdown.

Key Findings

Lockdown has had a positive impact on dads’ relationships with their children and has led to a desire to change their parenting in the future. However, dads’ mental health has suffered during the pandemic, particularly those parents with preschoolers.

  • 60% of dads say lockdown has positively impacted on their relationships with their children.
  • 56% of dads said they want to change the way they parent in future.
  • More than half the dads surveyed have increased the amount of time spent cooking and doing household chores. 
  • 40% of dads are spending 25 hours or more homeschooling or playing with their children.
  • 64% say their mental health has suffered due to lockdown.
  • 75% of dads with children aged 3-5 said lockdown had affected their mental health.
  • It is encouraging that 96% of dads whose mental health has been affected have taken action.

You can read the full report here.

What You Told Us

We received a lot of comments from dads about their lockdown experiences. Some were positive, enjoying the opportunity to spend more time with their children, help with homeschooling and taking the time to go outdoors. We also received feedback around the pressures of trying to homeschool and work, with some employers being less than understanding about the role of fatherhood. We also received comments from dads who have been negatively impacted by their inability to see children they co-parents with an ex-partner.

Benefits of working from home:

I normally spend 2+ hours per day commuting. Lockdown has allowed me to work from home and have more time to spend with my wife and baby, as well as do more housework and DIY/maintenance. The quality of my work is unaffected but my home life has improved substantially. I’m dreading going back to commuting. 

It has meant that I have had more time to spend with the family. I enjoy not having to rush away to work in the morning, eating meals together and going for daily walks has been a delight.  I also feel that I have had valuable input in the children’s home schooling.

I work full time, compressed hours, Monday- Thursday with Friday off. It has always been like this since we had the kids and I love it. I wanted to do more and the lockdown has meant that I also do a Thursday childcare too. It’s great fun. My work gets done Monday-Wednesday now.


I feel guilt both ways. I feel guilty when I’m not working and guilty when I’m not prioritising the children. 

An overriding feeling for me is one of failing in family and work life. Working from home and having easy access to emails makes it very difficult to switch off from work. On the other hand the shared experience of getting through a difficult time together and seeing my children so closely and how they have changed is something I'll always remember and value I think. My view on family versus work has changed quite a bit in terms of reducing the importance of work. But the experience does not feel like something that can be sustained beyond September.

It has felt Impossible. I had to drop down to three days a week, with loss of earnings.

It feels very difficult and something of a rollercoaster of emotions for everyone. 

My employer talks a good game... In reality they are average at best.


My children's mother has stopped contact twice for 3 weeks each time during the Covid-19 lockdown, despite there being a court order in place (the courts are closed). This has been very upsetting and I don't think it is in our kids' best interests.

Family life has been more difficult due to home- schooling between 2 homes and making sure our daughter is having a healthy balance of education, free time and one-to-one parent time.

I’m worried because my ex is an alcoholic, but our social worker says she is okay to look after our children. Their house is filthy and I have to take their laundry back to mine. I feel helpless.

You can read the full report here.

So what does this all mean?

Our mission is to drive positive cultural change by inspiring organisations, communities and individuals to engage, support and empower men to be the fathers they want to be.

In a modern world at odds with last century’s stereotypes of working life, millions of men are choosing to immerse themselves in childcare and domestic life, while women rightly seek equality in the workplace.

Government policy increasingly reflects this new reality, but a cultural lag means fathers often remain invisible or ignored when it comes to children and family services, childcare, education and health.

Our survey shows that many dads hope to continue to work flexibly and spend more time at home post-lockdown, but the pressures of juggling work and home life are having a detrimental impact on their mental health. 

Legislation on flexible working and shared parental leave will only benefit dads once employers stop seeing children and parenting as the preserve of women and dads feel it’s okay not to be the traditional long hours breadwinner.


You can read the full report here.

For more information about our survey and findings, please contact Kirsty Nicholls at [email protected]