Viva, lazy parents!

I’m indisputably a better parent when I’m on holiday. I’m more accommodating, less rigid; more patient and playful, less bitter and twisted.

With time on my hands I can play, chat, make more interesting meals and generally be a better role model of how to live an enjoyable, fulfilled life.

That’s why I could see more than a modicum of sense in the ‘Do less’ philosophy put forward by British writer Tom Hodgkinson, editor of The Idler.  In his estimation we try to cram far too much into our lives and our children’s lives, teaching them from an early age to be stressed, busy consumers. It’s a pity, says Hodgkinson, when we could enjoy our lives and do less harm all round if we were a little more idle.

‘I would like to see a world where the Government's pedestrian and unromantic vision of a nation of "hard-working families" is replaced by a country filled with "good-living families" whose members are enjoying themselves rather than overworking and overspending as they chase the ever elusive satisfaction promised by the commercial world,’ writes Hodgkinson in the Telegraph.

‘Shorter working days, school days and terms; longer holidays; more feasts, days off, rest, play. These are the simple answers to the exhaustion that post-Industrial society has created in individuals, in families, in organisations and in the earth itself.’

A life of ease?

It’s probable that his idyllic idea of the pre-Industrial world misses a few of the grubby truths about that time. But it surely very tempting to indulge in the fantasy for a bit.

What would my life – and my children’s – be like if I decided to spend more time lying under a tree and less sweating over a hot keyboard? Would our enjoyment of life be more profound, our troubles fewer?

For an online generation, the delight of being on the cutting edge, the first to know everything, might be hard to release in favour of tranquillity and ‘good-living’. Would my Facebook-fed teen be content with a diet of lazy afternoons simply being?

But for a few moments, lying outside my back door watching a breeze stir the trees while my younger son lay next to me giggling over a comic book, I felt the truth of it. A little well-placed idleness would make me, for one, a better parent.

Do you think parents should be more idle, or less so?

Read more by Adele Hamilton
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