A laidback attitude towards parenting could be the key to happier, more resourceful children, claims author of a new book The Idle Parent. Tom Hodgkinson claims that a hands-off approach helps children become more self reliant and capable.


“When I researched The Idle Parent, it was fairly obvious to me that stress through over scheduling was happening all over the world,” Tom explained. “But leave the child alone and they will become more self-reliant and more capable.

Alex Brooks, the editor of an Australian parenting site agrees. “I think we often forget to think of the benefits of doing nothing for the kids,” she said. “Kids eating together at the table is probably just as beneficial as going to a dance lesson. It’s just as important for their development.”

Tom’s top tips for freeing up your family are:

1. Eat together in the evening

2. Limit extra-curricular activities to one or two a week

3. Make sure your family routine isn’t making you stressed. If it is, add in some time for unstructured play for your children

4. Get creative. Leave boxes of oddly assorted household items around the house from your child’s bedroom to the sandpit, to help spark their imagination

5. Turn off the TV or computer and send your children outside

6. Not all children are the same so don’t be afraid to apply different rules to different children

7. Let your children choose what activities they do

8. Don’t be afraid of saying no


9. Go camping. Get away from the world and let your children enjoy playing in open space outdoors