New Medibank Live Better data reveals the impact of ‘self-care’ with both parents and their children set to benefit

Lisa colouring in at the kitchen table with her two sons.

Released today, a new survey of close to 1,800 people — including adults and children aged 10 to 17 — reveals the vast majority (77%) of Aussie parents prioritise their family’s health ahead of their own.

According to the data, Australian parents are likely to tick all the right boxes when it comes to the health of their children, but sometimes this comes at the expense of their own wellbeing.

What does the data tell us?

  • 76% of parents ensure their children eat breakfast every day, but only 1 in 2 (55%) do so themselves.
  • 76% of parents make sure their children are active every day, but only 16% achieve this themselves.
  • 29% of parents encourage their children to share how they’re feeling, however only 12% of parents do so themselves.
  • 74% of parents believe they could personally be healthier overall, yet only 57% feel this way about their children.

Medibank Chief Medical Officer Dr Linda Swan said: “Let’s face it, it’s not easy getting it right all the time but we know parents carry a significant influence in a child’s life, and kids are likely to go on to develop habits that reflect those of their parents. While as parents, it may feel natural to prioritise your family’s health, this data shows it’s important not to let your own health take a back seat.”

Watch: Why self care can be better for the whole family

Sweet tooth: the number one ‘hand-me-down habit’

While these stats show that parents are mostly focused on the health of their children, the data also shows their own behaviours are still rubbing off - with 78% admitting their children have picked up their habits, both good and bad. According to kids, it’s their ‘sweet tooth’ that has come out on top as the number one habit inherited from their parents (32%), followed by excess screen time (29%).

On the up side, the third highest ranking habit is a shared love for keeping active (24%). Additionally, 48% of children say they’ve learned the value of ‘me time’ from mum and dad, highlighting the importance parents place on maintaining a healthy mindset.

Children want parents to have more ‘me time’

Nearly one in two (45%) children agree that their parents should have some more 'me time’ as the data shows that only 17% of parents practise self-care each day, with half (53%) saying they feel guilty for doing so. Despite this, 73% of parents admit that when they do practise self-care, they’re a better person to those around them.

Importance of ‘self-care’ goes beyond families

The data shows that those without children also struggle to find ‘me time’, with one in two (50%) saying they don’t practise self-care enough. As for why adults are finding it hard to dedicate time for themselves, 39% claim they just can’t find the time. Interestingly, nearly all agree that even the smallest, healthy actions can make a world of difference to how they feel (84%) and act towards others (73%).

“It can be hard to find time for ourselves, in amongst family, work and social commitments. With these findings, we hope to demonstrate to all Australians that dedicating time to focus on your health — whether it’s for five minutes or five hours — can have a positive knock-on effect on those around us,” said Dr Swan.

1 Medibank-commissioned research conducted by Lewers in August 2019. Survey including 1,726 respondents, made up of parents, non-parents and children aged 10-17.