We live in a high pressure world. Our work day now extends beyond normal hours, thanks to longer hours at the bank, the grocery store, and the fitness centre. The Blackberry has invaded every aspect of our daily lives, blurring the lines between business and pleasure. Growing numbers of Canadians admit to working virtually around the clock. We’re more stressed, less rested and have less time to devote to our kids. Welcome to life in the early 21st century.
This is not just another rant, but rather a quick synthesis of the results of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing Report, released June 15, 2010, and aptly entitled Caught in the Time Crunch: Time Use, Leisure and Culture in Canada. It’s also a report that captured headlines across Canada — and left many Canadians nodding in agreement that the time has come to assess the total impact on our families as well as our general wellbeing.
The Toronto Globe and Mail (June 15, 2010) provided a succinct summary of the key findings:
- The 24 Hour Work Day: Twenty-five per cent of Canadians are working around the clock;
- The Generational Squeeze: One in four of us cares for an elderly dependent and one in five is responsible for both a child and a senior;
- Busy Kids: Two-thirds of teens spend over 2 hours daily in front of screens; more than 80% of 6 to 9 year-olds are taking part in an organized activity programs;
- Shrinking Leisure Time: More time working means less time for social activities; only 5 % find time for arts and culture activities, fewer than ever visit national parks.
The Time Crunch means that work-life is taking over our lives, cutting deeply into time spent with family, refreshing our minds, and exercising our bodies. We are clearly being driven by the pace set by our globalized, technologically advanced world.
The pressures felt by today’s families, parents, and children were starkly revealed in Carl Honore’s profoundly important 2008 book Under Pressure: How the Epidemic of Hyper-Parenting is Endangering Childhood. The root of the problem, according to Honore, lay in “our culture of speed, efficiency and success at all costs.” It had created a new phenomenon called “hyper-parenting” which was “pushing children and their parents to the brink.”
The CBC-TV Doc Zone program, Hyper Parents & Coddled Kids (2010), drove the message home: What began as sheltering children from a dangerous world and preventing those “skinned knees” was producing a generation of “coddled kids” unable or unwilling to function on their own.
The spectre of “hyper-parenting” crept up on us slowly. We just wanted what was best for our kids and now nothing is too good for them.
What’s causing families to be so under pressure? What’s the impact on well-meaning parents ? Are today’s parents giving children a leg-up in life? Or are we creating problems that will last a lifetime? Let’s hear from you.