Aussie parents spend at least eight hours a week being a 'taxi service' for their children
New research shows almost two-thirds of Aussie parents spend the equivalent of a working day driving their kids around
Practical Parenting Content Editor / September 24 2018
If you’ve ever felt as though you’re running a cab service for your kids, rest assured you’re not alone! New research from Allianz Australia has found that 61% of Australian parents say they spend the equivalent of a full working day behind the wheel ferrying their children to school, daycare and extra-curricular activities. And one in 10 say they spend nine hours a week or more as ‘parent taxis.’
Sydney Mum Maria Calci is a self-confessed taxi parent, spending a whopping 18 hours a week driving her two children, Amelia, six and Vince, five to school, daycare and various extra-curricular activities. That’s 936 hours or the equivalent to 117 working days each year!
“At the moment both kids do swimming and dance classes, plus Amelia has gym class and Vince has soccer,” Maria says. On Saturdays, Maria leaves the house at 9am and doesn’t get home again until after 2pm by the time the children have finished all their weekend activities.
“To be honest, on Saturday afternoons we don’t do much. I’m so exhausted I can’t even think about socialising – I don’t want to talk to anyone,” Maria says. The grueling schedule has left her exhausted emotionally, mentally and physically, and while she wouldn’t change being a parent for the world, it’s left her feeling as if there is “no light at the end of the tunnel.”
Sadly, Maria says she often feels judged by other parents. “People say things like ‘they don’t have to do so many activities’ or point out that as children we didn’t do many activities. But the reality is that most activities are done outside the school now. When I was a child I learned to swim at school, for example, but now these things are mostly done privately.”
Allianz Australia’s chief market manager, Nick Adams, says that there are a few things parents can do to reduce the burden.
"Firstly, share the load. Ask friends and family to do the pick-up when needed, or if a friend from school is in the same afternoon activity alternate the pick-ups and drop-offs,” he suggests.
Remember too that it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey too. “No-one likes being trapped in the car, so why not listen to a child-friendly podcast or sing along to the Wiggles to ensure everyone gets home happy,” he suggests. “Make it about quality time, and not about schedules.”
Lastly, see if your school or local sporting group will initiate a car-pooling roster to ease the squeeze on over-scheduled parents.
Maria says that once her son starts school with his big sister next year things will get a bit easier. “Another thing that has helped us is scheduling simultaneous sessions, or booking classes in back to back,” Maria says. “It has definitely helped reduce the time we spend in the car.”
Nicola Conville has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 20 years across a wide range of print and online publications. Her areas of expertise are parenting, health and travel. She has two children; Lucy, age eight, and Nathan, age five.