New evidence suggests kids are overscheduled, and for the wrong reasons.

kids working at home
Credit: HconQ/Shutterstock

Last night each of my kids, who are in first and third grade, had an hour of homework. This was after a seven-hour school day; almost eight if you count busing to and from school. They also had swimming lessons, which they love, but didn't exactly constitute down time. After they ate dinner, it was time for a bath, and bed. They may have played for a total of 10 minutes.

That's why I wasn't surprised to read about a survey that found kids are "working" 46-hour weeks! That's more than many parents work, if you think about it.

The U.K. Center Parcs survey of 2,000 parents classified "work" as basically non-downtime, so even chores and reading with parents counted. Even if, like me, you wouldn't consider reading together to be work, this data speaks to the reality that many kids are overscheduled.

Colin Whaley, marketing director for Center Parcs told The Sun, "What has undoubtedly come out of this is the need for families—parents and children alike—to take time out to relax."

I couldn't agree more! In fact, I try to commit my kids to as little as possible so they can have time at home to just be kids. Swimming lessons and Girl Scouts are all they do. I figure they have the rest of their lives to be stressed out and time-pressed. I just can't understand families that rush from one activity to the next day in and day out. When do their children find time to do their homework? And how can they possibly be getting enough sleep?!

Other findings from the survey, which also questioned kids ages 6-11, include:

  • 54 percent of parents think it's important to encourage kids to participate in as many clubs as possible to allow them the opportunity to excel at what they enjoy.
  • 25 percent of parents like their kids to be busy.
  • 44 percent of kids believe they do more in a day than their parents.
  • 25 percent of kids say they take part in extracurricular activities because their parents want them to.

The organization recommends that kids get 3 hours and 51 minutes of free, unstructured time, which studies have shown benefits kids, every day. This might be tough on weekdays, but can even out on the weekends.

The takeaway: When it comes to kids' schedules, maybe less is more.

What is your reaction to this survey's findings?

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.