The #BEtime movement wants to replace kids’ busy schedules with free play time.
The average kid in the United States has only 30 minutes of unstructured time each day. That’s significantly less than in the 1980s, when kids had roughly two hours a day to do whatever they wanted. The problem is that modern kids’ lives are over-scheduled, packed full of activities that parents believe will put their children at an advantage in life. Whether it’s sports, tutoring, music, or art, there is a tendency to think that more is always better.
But maybe it’s not…
A cute new video (shown below) challenges that assumption. Called #BEtime and sponsored by GoGo Squeez (maker of fruit snack squeeze pouches, which we detest at TreeHugger, but we acknowledge that the company clearly knows a thing or two about making profound video clips), the 3-minute film depicts an informal experiment in which parents were asked to sign their kids up for enrichment activities. What they didn’t realize is that the kids were given unstructured play time instead, or #BEtime, as GoGo Squeez has labeled it.
The parents sat down with the organizer to describe a typical week in their family’s lives. The stress and fatigue was palpable as they talked about driving from one activity to the other. Then the parents were shown a video of their own children playing freely in a natural setting, albeit a highly structured one, with beautiful toys and materials to encourage free play all around. Their reactions were emotional, and as a parent who has also succumbed to the over-busyness this summer (my kids are at soccer four times a week), I got a bit teary-eyed.
Even though the video comes from a purveyor of goods that I’ve been known to lambast on this very website (please don’t buy non-recyclable plastic food pouches!), the message is important and worthy of reiteration.
Let kids be. Let them taste boredom and learn how to fill the days with their own initiatives, creative endeavors, and experiments. Realize that, as parents, it’s not our job to make them mini experts in a narrow stream, but to expose them to a broad range of activities and then let them have fun, far from coaches, teammates, trophies, and grades.