Thursday, October 11, 2012

Where Did Children's Time Go?

When I was a child, I had unlimited time to do what ever I wanted.  There was more than enough time to go to school, do homework, play with friends, do organized sports (football and baseball), be a Boy Scout, have hobbies, watch TV and sleep.   I recall staying up late once in 8th grade to do an English report and I think I stayed up all night once to finish a high school project.

Last week, my spouse reviewed our daughter's commitments.   Our daughter has school, homework, soccer, Brownies, and music activities.   In addition, she has occasional play dates, some TV, and a hobby or two.   My spouse concluded our daughter didn't have enough time to do everything in the time currently allotted.

So is my daughter's schedule more grueling than when I was a child, as my nephew commented that life is tougher for his generation than mine?

Here's my brief analysis for some of the reasons our daughter is time challenged:

  • Variety of activities.   Our daughter has sports, music, Brownies and play dates.   I recall only having sports and Cub Scouts.   I didn't have planned play dates.  All play was adhoc; I either looked for other kids our in the neighborhood or knocked on a neighbor's door.
  • Travel time.  All our daughter's activities are at least a 15 minute drive and as much as a 30 minute drive from our house.   So there is a 1/2 - 1 hour transit time in addition to the activity.  I typically had a 5-10  minute bike ride for my activities which were in our neighborhood.
  • Homework load.  Our daughter has about 1.5 - 2 hours of homework a night, which cannot be shortened much since some of the assignments are to "practice for 30 minutes."  Perhaps I no longer remember, but I don't recall spending that much time on homework until high school.   I think I did most of my homework during school time when I was in elementary school. 
  • Focus.  My daughter usually has 3-4 different activities a week.  So there is a lot of start up time and effort since each activity requires different preparation.   I was typically involved in one activity as season, even though it might involve daily participation, e.g. football and baseball.
  • Overall, I think our daughter's time constraints are due to the several factors I listed.  For now, we will try the manage by doing some homework practice and music practice in the morning before school, which is what some of our daughter's classmates have already done.  If this doesn't work, we'll consider reduction of the number of activities.

    For more on  Crossing Generations, check back every Thursday for a new segment.

    This is not financial or parenting advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2012 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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