Family leisure and transitioning into parenting

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


School of Media, Culture and Society, University of the West of Scotland


Faculty of Business and Law


School of Business


Paper presented at the Leisure Studies Association Conference, Sport, Festivity and Digital Cultures, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley Campus, July 2014,


This conference paper will be based on a qualitative study that explored the transition period from pregnancy into first-time parenthood with heterosexual couples with a specific focus on family leisure and experiences of first-time parenting.

In order to collect qualitative data, focus group studies (Grbich, 2007) were used, one during pregnancy and the other postpregnancy. The key findings from the study indicated that gender (Currie, 2009; Daly, 2004) was a significant factor in determining the nature and characteristics of men’s and women’s leisure and parenting style (Dermott, 2006). In terms of access and opportunity for leisure, women were more constrained than men, especially around the birth of their child and in the early stages of parenthood. Finding time for coupled leisure, solo leisure and other leisure, such as time out with friends became more difficult during the latter stages of pregnancy and even more limited just after their child was born. Most of the couples’ free-time was taken up with preparing for the birth of their child and in meeting the direct needs of their child, with a discernible shift from an adult to a child centered focused lifestyle.

In preparing for parenting, first-time parents read parenting literature; watched instructional DVDs, trawled the web, spoke with friends and family, and attended antenatal classes. First-time parents described their experience as enjoyable, but time pressured, challenging and stressful, especially for women who undertook the primary care giver role. As a result of this study, men’s voices in family leisure research were heard following on from the work of Hand and Lewis (2002) and more recently Dyck and Daly (2009). As a result of this research study, a number of recommendations are provided to enhance and improve leisure provision for families and research priorities for further research on family are identified

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