The average Aussie family spends 5.6 hours in the car just to extra activities. Surprisingly 60% of kids are driven to school.
Maggie Scott, Founder of app Parachuute and Melbourne Mum of two school aged kids, shares her tips for reducing your stress by simplifying the family schedule.
Do you approach the weekend with dread?
How on earth will you juggle what you need to get done, plus getting your kids to sports and other social events on time?
60% of kids are driven to school and the rate of driving is even higher for out of school activities.
An average family spends 5.6 hours every week just driving their kids to sports activities .
This number increases to 16 hours per week when time spent watching and helping are included.
No wonder our roads are clogged and families are feeling stressed.
So, if we don’t want our kids to cut back their activities but we want to reduce our stress levels what things can help us? Here is my list of strategies that can help families survive.
1. Consolidate family activities
Look for opportunities to group out of school activities rather than spread them across days. I find one busy day followed by one ‘rest’ better than always having commitments. For example, if your kids are in swimming lessons can you get the lessons at the same time or right after each other?
Make use of the downtime associated with kids’ activities. Often there are short chunks of time, like training sessions, that can be put to good use rather than sitting scrolling through social media. Can you squeeze in a 30 min run/walk, get some work done or pick up any last minute supplies?
2. Share the load
Find people to share the load with. It makes no sense for each parent to drive only their kid to an activity. Go out of your way to connect with parents whose kids to the same activities. If you don’t know anyone then introduce yourself and work at building up your network. Before you know it you will know half the class/team. To get the ball rolling make an offer of spare seats 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.
3. Plan in advance
Spending some time in advance to get organised will save you headaches in the longer term. Make sure everyone who needs it can access critical info like game times and locations. If you have schedules that change week-on-week make sure you check at least the day before a match, not just before, because if you do it will be the one time that the drive is much longer than you allowed for.
Every family needs to find their own balance in terms of who does what, but don’t let yourself be a martyr to the family schedule. Your partner can take on responsibility for certain things and there is no reason why kids, as they get older, can’t make sure they know what time they need to be ready and have the clothes/equipment they need sorted out. In addition to the above there are lots of apps/other tools that can help.
5. Connect with your kids
Good luck, and remember most of the time we have encouraged our kids to do the things we are driving them to. Also, you might just be surprised by how you can end up having an amazing conversation with your child whilst stuck in traffic.
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