A bit of quality time

What parents really do after the kids are asleep: they play with the children's toys.

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Every parent knows the pleasure of that magic moment at the end of day when the offspring have subsided at last into sleep. That's when mum and dad have the chance to relax, talk about the day and tomorrow, do the chores, clean up the mess - and of course put in a little quality time playing with Junior's toys.

At least, that's what a surprising proportion of parents do, according to a survey conducted for an Australian department-store chain. The findings included the fact that over two-thirds of respondents admit that they play with their children's toys after kiddie bedtime.

Part of this appears to be nostalgia for their own youth: 20 per cent of mothers admitted that they influence their children's toy wish-lists in favour of the playthings the mothers used when they were little.

On the other hand, toys are more interesting than they used to be: gaming consoles, for example, tempt children of all ages. But the parents surveyed also expressed a preference for Lego and for that multi-generation perennial, the train set.

A common complaint of young parents is that they're often too worn out with childcare to follow other pursuits. Yet for many, there is still time for Lego or a choo-choo. There's a little kid in all of us.