Recently, I was talking to a friend, who bemoaned the fact that she hasn’t been able to put her children into any kind of dance, sport or music classes. My husband and I are fortunate enough to have only one child currently at the right age to begin things like this and we are able to swing the cost of a ballet/tap class for her.
While I feel very fortunate that my daughter has this opportunity, I also don’t see it as necessary in enriching her life. I wouldn’t feel guilty if we couldn’t afford it. I went through a phase as a little girl where I wanted so badly to be a ballerina, but there wasn’t a good option for classes in our small town. And I don’t think my parents could have afforded it anyway. I turned out just fine and don’t resent them because I didn’t have the opportunity to travel the world performing as a prima ballerina. (Well, actually, when you put it that way…)
One of my favorite things to do as a kid was packing a picnic lunch and going to the city park. It was totally free, I got exercise, I had fun, met other kids….I may not have mastered a skill like dancing or playing piano at the park, but I grew stronger and I learned that hard work accomplishes goals (getting all the way to the end of the monkey bars without having to stop due to upper arm fatigue was a proud day for me!).
There are so many ways we can enrich our children’s lives without spending money on them!
- Playdates to interact with others
- Crafts to spark creativity
- Cooking with mom (or dad)
- Library Story Hour and Special Programs
- Playing Outdoors (Find a creek to wade in, discover fish and crawdads, skip rocks! I did this all the time with my dad, and I loved it! He taught me about fossils we found in the sandy soil, animal prints, varieties of trees- and the animals that gnawed on them, drilled holes in them…)
One benefit of not over-scheduling your child with extracurricular activities, is that they are THRILLED when they actually get to do anything out of the ordinary! Haha! We bought a Groupon for bowling and pizza this winter and our girls were so excited! They danced, they cheered, they giggled! It was about the best $17 we ever spent.
Kids learn so much just from independent play and interacting with their family and friends, don’t ever feel guilty for not structuring their lives with music and sports if you can’t afford it. My daughter, who turned four in February, doesn’t even attend preschool, but she is such a bright little thing. She is funny and creative. She has great motor skills and interacts beautifully with other children. She is sweet and kind, and that, to me, is more important right now than anything else. There is plenty of time for her to learn how to play an instrument or sports in school, or even as an adult (my husband took up guitar as an adult, just a few years ago!).
Just focus on raising your kids to be kind and thoughtful, and you can’t go wrong. Maybe preschool and extracurricular activities are right for your family, but they aren’t necessarily right for every family and every kid. Some kids need that little push to get out and learn and socialize, and some don’t. Either way, I won’t judge you, if you don’t judge me, deal? 🙂
I came across this quote recently and I loved it! I think having unlimited, spontaneous play time is a must for kids.
Are your kids in extracurricular activities? Do you feel like it is necessary to help them develop? Or maybe just necessary for you as their momma, to get a little time alone? (If so, that’s fine, too! I love my hour with only one child each week!)
‘Fess up-leave me a comment below!