MOST Australian kids are driven around all day. 60 per cent are driven to school, and even more are ferried around to all their after school activities. An average family spends 5.6 hours every week just driving their kids to sports activities. This increases to 16 hours per week when time spent watching and helping are included.
No wonder our roads are clogged — peak hour has well and truly extended into Saturday as kids sports put pressure on our roads. No wonder families are feeling stressed.
We can’t expect to keep increasing the time on the roads without pressure on both our individual families, and our cities as a whole. But there is a way to cut back.
Look for local solutions and use your village to share the load. That could mean signing you kids up for local teams where you know other parents and can share the driving load.
In my experience parents can get too focused on finding a perfect club or teacher when — unless their child has some sort of amazing talent — knowing others and connecting with your local community is more beneficial to both the child and parent.
Local clubs are often within walking distance, or if you have to drive are only a quick trip rather than navigating across town.
To stay sane, connect with your local clubs and try to group your kids school activities rather than spread them across days. I find one busy day followed by one ‘rest’ day better than having commitments most days.
For example, if your kids are in swimming lessons can you get the lessons at the same time or right after each other?
Once you’ve got your schedule sorted find some like-minded people you trust to share the load with. It makes no sense for each parent to walk or drive only their kid to an activity.
Go out of your way to connect with parents whose kids do the same activities. This is a lot easier to do if you are both locals and likely to have some sort of connection. If you don’t know anyone then introduce yourself and work at building up your network — be brave, just like we expect our kids to be! Before long you will know half the class/team and your kids will be wanting to hang out with each other as well.
To get beyond just being a social connection do something practical to kickstart sharing the load. Reach out and make an offer of help to others. In the same way sleep creates sleep in babies, offering help makes others more likely to do the same. When someone offers you help, accept it with an attitude of grace, not defeat!
By sharing transport not only will you have to spend less time in traffic, your child will have the opportunity to forge friendships and see parents model the sort of community behaviour we expect our kids to demonstrate.
In addition to the above there are lots of apps/other tools that can help.
Good luck, and remember most of the time we have encouraged our kids to do the things we are spending time getting them to. Also, you might just be surprised by how you can end up having an amazing conversation with your child while stuck in traffic.
First published in: https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/kids/the-secret-to-getting-your-weekend-back/news-story/befa003998b66c6fbb5b09ec706f8e32