“Just wait,” one couple told my husband and me. “As soon as your kids get older, you will be racing from one sport or activity to the other, and then you won’t have any free time.” The couple was sweet, but I could not help but feel overwhelmed by hearing about their crammed schedule with just two middle school children. It sounded exhausting, and I wasn’t in their shoes, yet.
Is it really necessary to fill our children’s lives with so many activities that there’s no time for anything else? Here are my solutions on how to save money, time, and most importantly sanity when it comes to children’s sports and other extracurricular activities.
Multiple Children, One Activity
If you are truly tired of juggling the multiple activities from all of your multiple children, then you need to learn to simplify. One season, all the children can do soccer and the next season, they can all take piano lessons. This allows your children to try multiple activities without driving your or your budget insane.
When my sister and I were around eight and eleven, she was enrolled in Tae Kwon Do, and I was in gymnastics. Our schedule as a family was pretty full, and my poor mom would rush to pick us up after a long day of work in order to taxi us to our classes.
Finally, it was decided that I was going to start Tae Kwon Do too instead of gymnastics. I am so thankful that I did because I was much more naturally talented at Tae Kwon Do versus gymnastics, and found a deeper love for the sport. I would not have tried the switch out on my own, so I’m glad my parents encouraged me to try it.
Benefits of choosing one activity at a time. When you have multiple kids in one activity, you’ll save money because most places offer sibling discounts. Also, if you can arrange for the classes to be at similar times or back to back, you save yourself time and sanity.
Take a Season Off
I think as parents we trap ourselves into these rules when it comes to activities for our children. Like, if your son doesn’t practice piano consistently, then he will not be able to learn correctly and advance, or if your daughter is a natural-born soccer player, and you don’t take allow her to do soccer all year long, then you’re crippling her success in the future.
The truth is that our children are very smart and talented and they can survive taking a season off from one activity.
Your son will probably enjoy piano more and retain more if he’s allowed to take a year off of official lessons to pursue another interest, such as guitar or baseball. Your daughter still has plenty of opportunities to score a soccer scholarship to college, even if she doesn’t play soccer for a season at the age of ten or twelve.
Benefits to taking a season off. There are many benefits from taking a season off of all activities. It obviously saves money, but it also protects your children. Children need a mental break and a chance to just be kids. Also, many sports, such as soccer and gymnastics, are physically demanding for your child, so a season off allows their growing bodies much needed rest and healing time.
Save Money and Time on Activities
In the end, our children are important, and we want to help them try new things and shape them for future success. However, don’t forget that intentional family time, and the ability to just enjoy childhood away from structured activities, are just as important to your child’s development.
How many activities are your children enrolled in right now? Does it work for your family or should you simplify?