Tablecloths, toast racks and teapots have been replaced with television, the tube and smart phones at the modern family breakfast.

Parenting on Female First

Parenting on Female First

A new survey has highlighted the differences between the modern morning meal and that experienced by Brits 50 years ago.

It shows a typical Sixties breakfast would last up to half an hour, take place at a beautifully laid table and feature the whole family.

In contrast, today's 'breakfast' means dad is already on his way to work, the children are chomping a quick bowl of cereal while playing with toys and mum is multitasking while munching on a piece of fruit.

Flahavan's, a porridge oat producer in Ireland's, conducted the survey to establish emerging trends in UK breakfast habits. 

A Flahavan spokesman said: "This survey illustrates the real differences between society today and that of 50 years ago. There are stark differences between the ways people conduct their everyday life - 50 years ago a mother's only priority was to make sure her family was well fed for the day ahead.

"Today, modern mums are overwhelmed with multitasking, and are often trying to get the family sorted while getting ready for work themselves. Therefore, breakfast has become more of a rushed affair, with families less likely to choose a healthy breakfast, and unlikely to sit down together."

The survey shows 50 years ago, more than eight in 10 people remember their mum preparing the breakfast table and calling the family down once everything was laid and ready.

The breakfast table would be neatly presented with tablemats, place settings, cutlery and crockery - other familiar sights would be the toast rack, a teapot and teacups, a selection of jams and marmalades and a sugar bowl.

The milk and newspapers would have been delivered that morning, and dad would read the paper whilst enjoying light conversation with the family.

The most common breakfasts for families of the Sixties were porridge, boiled egg and soldiers, toast and jams. Eight in 10 children of the Sixties remember mum pottering around in an apron during breakfast, serving milk and pouring tea.

Nine in 10 people of this era remember thoroughly enjoying breakfast as a child as it gave them a positive start to the day, and 94 per cent think there have been massive shifts in the way families now start the day.

Indeed, the research indicates that modern breakfasts are far more rushed affairs, with many households failing to sit down together at all. Seven in 10 people claim they never sit down to breakfast with the whole family, with half of dads already on their way to work, and a further fifth in the shower.

In most houses, dad leaves for work by 7:27am, and the children sit alone at the breakfast table, accompanied by their toys, magazines or the television while mum is rushing around.

Breakfast tends to be consumed in half the time today, disappearing within nine minutes, and a third of mums even admit they frequently miss breakfast altogether in their haste to get everything done.

The spokesman for Flahavan's added: "Research has shown that people who grew up fifty years ago distinctly remember enjoying breakfast time and leaving for school feeling content and ready for the day ahead.

''Why? Because they spent a small amount of time with their parents or siblings, without any distractions or stresses over late homework or school bags not packed.

''Parents made sure children took twenty minutes to eat a proper healthy breakfast, with no distractions, just light conversation with the family. Realistically, we can't all be at the breakfast table at the same time, however some small changes in our daily routine could help us to take an extra ten minutes to enjoy a healthy breakfast."

Often, children will help themselves to breakfast so that mum can get on, and two thirds of families admit they rarely get time for a decent conversation in the morning.

Incredibly, a fifth of children will even be made to do their homework at the breakfast table if they haven't had time to complete it the night before. Ironically, two thirds of people polled, firmly believe that despite the rush their families are having a healthy breakfast each day.

''Something as simple as packing school bags or laying the table the night before can provide those vital extra few minutes that we all need in the morning,” the spokesman said. “Porridge can take as little as two minutes in the microwave and is one of the healthiest breakfast options, ensuring you feel fuller for longer and are more able to concentrate on the day ahead'.”

Changes in the Family Breakfast:


  • Family members have breakfast on the move.
  • Dad is either at work or on his way to work when breakfast is served.
  • The children eat breakfast at the table or in front of the television.
  • The breakfast table is usually covered in smart phones, toys and magazines or homework.
  • Breakfast lasts just under 10 minutes.
  • Most common breakfasts for the children include a bowl of cereal, toast, fruit or porridge.
  • Dad will wolf down a bowl of cereal at his desk or eat nothing
  • Mum may have a bowl of cereal or a piece of fruit.
  • Milk is shop bought and remains in the fridge.
  • While the children are eating mum is getting morning jobs done such as packing school bags or helping with homework.


  • Mum calls the family to the table when breakfast is ready.
  • The breakfast table will have tablecloth, place settings, cutlery, jug of milk, jams and marmalades, toast rack, teacups and teapot, and sugar bowl.
  • The breakfast table would be laid by the time the children were up and dressed.
  • Dad attends breakfast in his work attire.
  • Dad reads the papers, which have just been delivered.
  • The family would most commonly eat porridge, cereal, toast and jams, or boiled egg and soldiers.
  • Mum would be focused on the family eating a healthy breakfast to set them up for the day.
  • Freshly delivered milk would be on the table.
  • During breakfast time, mum would be pottering around and wearing an apron.
  • Breakfast would last at least 21 minutes.

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