If you’ve got school-aged kids and you’re wondering how you came to be spending half your weekends carting them around to various activities, you wouldn’t be alone.
According to new data, Australian parents are spending around 5.6 hours a week waiting, transporting and participating in their kids’ sporting activities.
That just the sport. Now factor in the birthday parties, the playdates, sleepovers, and just worrying sick about when your teenager’s going to come home.
But for many parents, it’s sport that’s really draining the hours — and the bank account.
And that 5.6 hours a week parents spend on sport does not necessarily come down to one really long cricket match. The good majority of parents (58%) say they often find more than one child has sporting commitments on the same day. How do they do it? Well they ‘divide and conquer’ in a two-parent family, or they might rely on the parents of teammates to help out.
These figures are according to the ‘Real Australian Active Kids’ report released today, which finds parents are also spending around $2,180 a year on sporting activities for their kids.
The research aims to find out how parents are impacted by the sporting commitments of their children, commissioned by Real Insurance and based on a CoreData survey of 1000 Australian parents with at least one child under 18.
Of course, while time-consuming and expensive for parents, and not so great for the environment, all those hours driving kids from softball to soccer to swimming and nippers, should ultimately generate positive outcomes — active kids. Almost forty per cent of parents say their children are involved in sport-related activities several times a week, and another 45% put the frequency to at least once a week.
It can also be particularly social for parents, with 57% saying they’re spending the time socialising with other parents. Although many use the time to browse social media (31%).
Meanwhile, the vast majority of parents (70%) put no limits on the amount of sports their kids can participate in. That’s despite the fact around two thirds of parents (65%) say they have made financial sacrifices to support their kids’ sporting activities – more often than not, that comes in the form of spending less on themselves or their partner.
So is all that sport stressing kids and parents out?
The research found 66% of parents believe there is too much pressure on children to participate and perform in sport, while 64% said the focus on competitive sports in making kids more stressed. Three in five of the survey participants agreed that “everyone is a bit obsessed with children’s sporting activities these days”.
According to Dr Lisa Barnett from the Institute of Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University, the value of sport for its health and social benefits can’t be underestimated.
But the associated travel and costs need to be weighed up. “A great solution would be more sporting activities that are lower in cost (or free) and closer to home”.