Play Smarter: How To Parent Yourself Out Of A Job

dad2summitFatherhood on Friday

If you’re an average parent, today your kid spent 12.6 minutes on “vigorous outdoor activity” and 10.4 hours as a motionless slug. This is ridiculous. And here’s more to emphasize how parks-and-wrecked we are:

  • The average kid spends just over four hours a week playing outside, less than half than their parents did. 
  • Families spend $19 billion per year on their indoor entertainment systems; by 2025, it’ll reach $41 billion.
  • Only 38% of kids play team sports (down from 45% a decade ago) because the costs are too high.

Sure, safety is important (what’s with all the waivers?), and many of us are only as bold as our kids’ healthcare allows. But 12.6 minutes per day? That’s abysmal, and not just because of a blubbery, boneless dystopia. Getting kids out on their own is the best way to turn them into adults who calculate risk, regulate their own safety, and live independently.

And that’s the underserved angle here: As great as exploration is for kids, it’s even better for us, because we get to parent less. We get to spend less time attending to every little boo-boo and scaffolding the life out of playtime, and instead offload skill sets onto the kids who desperately need them.

There is reason to believe that change is on the way, albeit huffing and puffing. Some school districts have decided that recess actually has value. Organizations such as Let Grow help parents understand local laws and fact-check their fears. And as the backlash against overprotective parenting builds a head of steam, more and more parents are implementing unstructured and, dare we say, unsupervised play.

It’s counterintuitive to contemplate, but “the role of the parent is to work yourself out of a job.” So let it get easier, not harder.


Remember when the UK announced that its new Advertising Standards Authority would ban ads with harmful gender stereotypes? This “dopey dads” ad is its first victim.

A new study found that average cost per child/sport/year is approximately $692. Cost is keeping kids on the sidelines.

Despite progress across several parenting-related areas, many stay-at-home dads still face open criticism for their decision.

“Because, if we want our children to be moral people, we have to, well, raise them that way.” – Amy Joyce

“If the day ever came when we were able to accept ourselves and our children exactly as we and they are, then I believe we would have come very close to an ultimate understanding of what ‘good’ parenting means.” – Fred Rogers

“It’s time we all educate ourselves about unfair systems of bias before we become the educators to our children.” – Alyson Schafer

When it comes to defining family, the new normal is changing daily.

Back to the lunch table? These tips can make packing school lunches a relative breeze.

Wonder how attached your kid is to screens? There’s an app for that!



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Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash