Enriching Your Kids’ Lives For Free

Enriching kids lives for free

 

Enriching Our Kids' Lives For Free

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!).

creativity

 

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.

Childhood is not a race

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!

 

don't call me supermom

22 comments

  1. I’m that mom, the one who feels guilty because we can’t give her every experience. She loves to dance and sing and act. But we live 30 minutes from the closest dance studio and it’s strictly ballet and pretty expensive. We put her in their little princess camp last summer, she loved it. But it was $100 for a week of three hours a day. We put her in drama classes which were $20 a week for one 4 week session. She loved that even more and has a definite talent for it, but the one week summer camp class is $200. We did piano lessons for awhile, but even $60 a month plus trying to schedule them was just too much. We did softball for two seasons at $60 a season for three times a week for 16 weeks (I was ready to cry at the end from exhaustion). But I want her to have all those chances to find her thing and chase her joy, but we can’t do it all financially or emotionally. I’m trying to find the balance and compromises. She also enjoys our free co-op, acting in the church programs, singing in the choir, going on field trips and playing in the backyard all the time. I can’t do it all and hope she turns out happy for the childhood she had with lots of time at home with mommy.

    1. Wow, you have managed a lot of different experiences for her! I think the most important thing is not necessarily duration or dedication, but teaching your kids to spread their wings and try new activities. Parents do get exhausted from bussing their kids everyplace and that makes for a more stressful home, more convenience foods, less quality family time…Luckily, as it turns out for me, my joy in life is cooking and baking which is pretty perfect being a SAHM. 🙂

  2. I don’t have kids yet but I think extracurricular activities is necessary as it may help them in future. Atleast that is what I feel now as a grown up. I couldn’t go to a full time job for some personal reason but If I had learnt music/keyboard/any other extra curricular activity, I can take classes online or offline and it would have been another source of income.As I write a blog that is not a problem but I always wish.I also advise my school going cousins that they should learn atleast one extra skill other than studies.

    1. I agree; I do wish I had learned piano or something of the sort…but I encounter many moms who always feel guilty for one thing or another. I hoped to encourage moms that you can still provide your kids with important life lessons and skills without spending money. 🙂 Thanks for the comment and sharing your perspective!

  3. Very important post. It is so tough as a Mom not to get wrapped up in “keeping up with the Jones'” the alternative suggestions you have for activities are great! #HomeMattersParty

    1. Thank you! I appreciate your kind words! I hoped to encourage other moms with this post….we really don’t all have to compete in having the most talented child. 🙂 And it is enough just to raise decent human beings. That alone is hard enough! 🙂

  4. You know what? None of us kids in my neighborhood growing up had lessons or whatever. We just had a lot of fun playing together. I think you’re doing a great job! Thanks for sharing this on the #HomeMattersParty

  5. great writing, it’s all about the little things! In today’s age, there are still plenty of ways to have fun that don’t have to be flashy or cost a fortune! xo bee #homematters

  6. I agree someties we forget to let kids be kids!We are blessed with a neighborhood that our boys can go out and play. I feel like organized activities do keep older kids out of trouble. Such a great post! Thanks for linking up at Family Joy Link Up!

  7. I love reading your posts. I was just feeling a little panicky wondering if I should put my oldest in some kind of sport but we honestly don’t have the time after school. But we do have fun doing crafts, cooking and just hanging out. He makes the best eggs and is so proud that he knows how to make sunny side up and scrambled (lol he’s 10)

  8. We do a lot of packing a lunch and going to the park, or going to the free splash pad in the summer time. I think that it is great to have your kids involved in things but there are things to do for free as well. Thanks for linking up at Family Joy Link Up this week!

  9. Very well said, Rachel. My son has no extracurriculars and though occasionally I start stressing out that maybe he should be in some sports or music class, I don’t think my son really cares that much about them. Playing in the park and just doing fun stuff indoors and outdoors (like you said in your post) has always kept him happy and content. Thanks for this reminder for cherishing all the little things in life that really matter.

  10. You are so right! My kids don’t attend Preschool and they seem perfectly fine. I try to do projects at home with them, and do free or cheap stuff. We go to the library a lot and the mall play area. I also only sign them up for activities that are cheap! LOL. Since they are so young I don’t see the point in spending a lot of money anyway. Great post!

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