When your family is addicted to schedules

I recently had to read my four year-old daughter a book to explain the concept of free time. Her life had become so over-structured that spontaneous play was a foreign concept.

We’d fallen into the trap of overscheduling life; rushing from one planned activity to the next, rarely allowing her to get bored and play spontaneously.

A recent study commissioned by IKEA, The Time to Live Report, reveals that mine isn’t the only family in Australia to live like this.

The study, which was based on interviews, observation and surveys of 1400 family members, found that nearly half (47 percent) of Australian kids do three or more after-school activities each week. In the last month, 43 percent of teens and parents say they haven’t done anything spontaneous.

According to the report, free time is such a foreign concept to families that when they do get it, they don’t know what do to with it. Half of all teens and parents admit that they’d have to stop and think about how
to spend an extra couple of hours of free time.

Not only do we not know what to do with free time, we are so out of practice that the very idea of it is stressful. 53 per cent of teens and 46 per cent of adults surveyed admitted they are anxious when presented with free time, with unplanned time giving rise to unpleasant feelings of chaos, loss of control and impossibility.

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