The Twinadoes have ballet and tap on a Monday night. It makes Mondays a very, very, very long day, but they adore dancing. Not only that, but they have blossomed in ways I never ever imagined. They get so much more from ballet and tap than just learning to dance, so the long Mondays and the running around and concerts, not to mention the money, it’s all worth it.
Ballet is worth it, but is it also enough?
One after school activity a week feels like such a lot to me.
Beginning school has been a big change in all of our lives and I’m hyper aware of not ‘over scheduling’ our out of school hours. The change in rhythm is not proving easy for the girls (as I suspected) and they are needing a lot of ‘down time’ to rest and recover, and eat!
More than that, I feel strongly that children, my children, need plenty of free time to just be children. They need time to muck about in the back yard and to play with their fairies, to draw and chat and just be. So much of their time is already taken up with school that I want to make sure that I don’t fill up all the rest of our time with ‘stuff’.
But then there is so many things that I think they’d like to do and learn. There are so many things that might be good for them to do and learn.
They would love to do swimming lessons. They’d promise to keep their room clean if they could do gymnastics. They are very keen to learn an instrument. And when I broached the subject of trying netball they were very excited, despite not having a clue what netball is!
I know they would enjoy all of those things, all of them I think would be good for them in so many ways… but it all just seems too much.
Some questions are easily answered.
Weekly swimming lessons are out, they’d just get too sick. Gymnastics is a no go, too expensive and it clashes with ballet.
Other decisions are not so easily made.
I’d really like them to learn an instrument and so would they, but this one seems easier to put off till next year or later.
Netball is the one I am really wavering on. They don’t have a specialist PE teacher at their school (they still do PE with their class teacher though) and their ball skills are pretty non-existent so an out of school sport would be good for them. Especially a team sport, especially for our girls. But another night out? Another activity?
So here I am pondering …”How Much is too much?”
This post at Zen Family Habits – Overcoming the Guilt of Under-scheduling our Kids had me nodding along as I read.
I know that my girls need some down time, some ‘be free to do whatever time’, but I’m also battling the ‘what ifs’…
What if they get to the end of the year and still don’t really know how to swim? Swimming is such an important life skill.
What if we miss the opportunity for them to start music while they are really really in love with it? Maybe they will never learn an instrument.
What if they miss out on a netball spot because we waited? What if they are totally unco at sports or uninterested because I didn’t encourage them to start early?
What if they aren’t as smart? sporty? musical? busy? as another child?
What if they could have been a brilliant musician/netballer/swimmer if I’d only let them try? What if I’m holding them back? Leaving them behind?
Of course logically I know that a lot of those ‘what ifs’ are silly. I also know that I don’t much care if they are not the smartest, most sporty, most gifted children (or adults) in the world. I love them and will be proud of them regardless. All I really want is for them to be happy. I also know they they need time to be happy….
So maybe we’ll try out netball if it gets off the ground. If they love it and if we can all manage another out of school activity without stress then fine… if not there is plenty of time.
There is plenty of time.
Plenty of time for them to try all the things they want to try, and to do all the things they want to do, and to be all the things they want to be.
Right now, there is time to just be six.
So what do you think? How much is too much for your kids?
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
Yeah I think one activity a week is plenty for a kid. Beren is asking for guitar lessons so that will be it for him.
Im with you, this is the one time in their life that they can be six and play and do all the fun things kids do, before its all homework and study.
Been pondering this myself, as this week sees homework starting back up as well as our first gymnastics. Next week she is going to a new swimming school so is having an assessment, then we’ll have to pick a time and day.
Two is my absolute firm limit, and we’ve rarely managed going to two things for any length of time. Personally I have found that Saturday classes add to my feelings of “too much” and cramping my style. So I would prefer after school classes.
If the ear drops thing hasn’t beaten our illness issues with the pool, she’ll probably only swim first and fourth term. I want her to do swimming lessons until she’s a competent swimmer, they aren’t really for fun, although it’s one she really wants to do.
I think seasons on and off in things where that is easy to do is probably not a bad idea. A downside is buying equipment for growing bodies that sits unused for a term or more, so expensive.
I don’t want to have two “doing things” after school days, and only three free, but it seems like it might be how we do it. Steve reckons two in one night is too much.
I want the world LOL I want more time and money and energy and babysitters for Owen so she can do whatever takes her fancy hahahahaha! That is a serious consideration, the waiting there sucks for me, let alone him as he gets older. We changed swimming schools so Owen and I can swim while we wait.
Steve wants her to learn an instrument, she’s keen about that too. She wants to try netball, and since yesterday, do gym every day. And singing and acting lesson (thanks brightstars advert!).
It all sounds very fabulous in theory. But I now have a written night time routine and it’s on paper that her down time is limited, once we tick off the necessities like a snack, homework and reader (even just 20 mins makes an impact), dinner, bath and tidying up. I want peaceful and relaxing time together more than I want any of those classes. Our home life is my top priority.
So we’re gonna try two classes after school (hopefully Monday and Friday nights) and see how we go. You are not alone in your considerations :)
We do Scouts on Monday nights and Swimming on Friday nights.
Last year when Annie was in Prep we only did Swimming to start with but she was asking for more so we added Scouts.
My problem is the other activities that come with kids with extra needs. OT on Wednesday afternoon, Drama/Social Skills group on Saturday morning.
Annie is also doing Brainwaves club every second Saturday afternoon. Her teacher and I are talking about Annie have Wednesday afternoons off school so she gets some time to rest.
Soon Heidi will start speech therapy again and there is another place we have to be. I do wish they could do these extra things through school but the wait list is just so long. :(
This is interesting for me to read but since my son is still a baby I have not thought much about it although I will be trying to take him for English playgroup at least every 2 week so that he can learn to play with kids in English. I would also like to join some kind of class where he has more Japanese input- maybe even baby sign seeing as there is a place that offers it once a month near my house for only 15 dollars (it is a 5 minute walk)
Seeing as we are trying to do OPOL at home (one parent, one language- ie, i speak to Noah in English and Shun speaks to him in Japanese, although I notice that Shun copies some of the English I use at times with the baby) his English might be fine til he enters kindy but after that he will need to work on English with me at home which I guess will have to be considered a afterschool activity. I will have to teach him to read and write…
I would also like him to learn an instrument and take swimming lessons later on in life but I have no idea where his interests will lie so we will have to wait and see.
I think it is great that your girls do dancing- i think learning an instrument for them would be great. I learnt piano growing up and later on had singing and violin lessons also…
I started piano at 4 and had lessons til I finished highschool at 17… The age they are at is not too young!
I think about this already, and my daughter is only 3.
We used to do swimming, music, baby gym and mum’s group. Then I went to back to work and it was childcare 2 days, mum’s group and baby gym. Now I don’t work and it’s back to swimming and one day of kinder/childcare. She is an only child, and I worry she doesn’t get enough socialization with kids her own age.
I also wonder if our parents went through this. I am the eldest of five and I did tennis lessons, basketball (which had a night each for practice and games) and brownies for most of my youth. My sister did tennis and brownies with me. My mum became a brownie leader. My sister also played basketball, as my brother did later. My dad coached, played and joined the basketball committee. Did I feel over-taxed? I don’t remember, but I don’t think so.
With my parents involved I guess it was nice to do something with them on a different level. I think it gave them an outlet too. It was probably also nice that we all had shared interests we could get involved in together.
The other thing is … the activities don’t continue through school holidays, which is plenty of time to have unscheduled, unsupervised, use-your-imagination fun. At least, it was for us ….
Stitch Sista says
I don’t know how the adults manage the running around with extracurricular stuff let alone the kids!
IMO swimming is a non negotiable. Having said that, the preppie hasn’t got anything additional scheduled as I figured starting school would be enough, so I’ve just got the middle swimming atm.
I too would like to get her doing something else like gymnastics, and term 2 the big will pick up swimming again.
The thing I wanted to say though, is that although it’s good and well to start an instrument early, I only did recorder in primary and started flute in year 7. I did my AMEB exams up to Gr 6 and Music A in Yr 12. I would like my kids to start an instrument but will probably wait until Gr 3 or 4.
Good luck figuring it all out. I guess your girls will let you know if it’s too much.
We had a six month break in activities when the kids started school. Then halfway through prep they went back to swimming and started piano (which they did at school). In grade 2 we added tennis.
Very difficult to balance everything and make sure life is not too crazy. My middle daughter is doing violin as well now, we won’t be adding anything else in.
Glad I am not the only one who struggles with this!
My two have both been doing swimming lessons since they were about 3 years old. Jacob stopped at the end of last year, he is a competent swimmer and has been that way for probably two years… but I sort of figured if Bianca was there, he may as well be in a class as well. Up until the end of last year he was happy to go, but he was at the point where he was just swimming laps up and down the pool and asked to stop. Doesn’t give us an extra night at home though, because Miss B is not at the point where she can stop lessons. I have always said that swimming was non negotiable until the point at which they were competent swimmers, but that also means we have to go to the pool every week until the youngest child is competent! Last year we added gymnastics, which gave us two nights a week doing something. Luckily, even though they were in different classes, they were at the same time. Both kids seemed to cope okay, Jacob probably better than Bianca. Of course this year Jacob has gone up a level at gym and now has to go two nights a week, now I have the dilemma of is two nights at gym too much when you are nine? And then of course Miss B then asks “why can’t I do gym two nights instead of sitting here watching for one?” But I think two nights of gym is definitely way too committed for a seven year old!
Oh and Kate, be aware that team sports often require a training night as well as game night… so signing up for one activity can really mean two nights/days.
Hear you and we don’t have school!!
Our week has suddenly become incredibly busy and W is set to give ballet a try-which means T will for sure want to try too. But 2 kinds of dancing in a week?? Not sure Mama has the stamina let alone the kids!
Stitch Sista says
I can totally understand you not wanting to do swimming if they are getting sick!!
I think it’s lovely that they are doing ballet/dance and enjoy it. I wouldn’t mind my kids doing it, but no-one has asked as yet!
When my sister and I were growing up we were allowed to do one physical activity and one cultural. Don’t tell ’em, but I kind of think that was wise!! My daughter is 3, and one activity is plenty for her right now…
Sunnyroad Mum says
I debate this question every term! Its hard because there’s so much I’d like them to try and that they’d like to try but you need to get the balance right. 3 things a week is my limit, BUT G was not doing that when she first started Year 1. That first term of “real school” was very tiring and mentally taxing so we kept after school activities to a minimum. The problem is that for us swimming and ballet are a given and they are year-round (though sometimes we skip swimming for the winter terms) which only leaves room for one more thing. G has been asking to do drama for a year and I’ve resisted (because I think she’s dramatic enough!) but then I felt guilty that I was imposing MY feelings on her interests so this term we are doing it and she LOVES it. I’ve thought about Saturday mornings to releive the after school effort but then I resent it cutting into the weekend and its problematic with them spending every other w/end with their Dad.
I think one thing is good for them right now, with the start of school etc, but maybe later in the year they’ll be ready for more. (G has done a bit of netball and she is super keen, but it doesn’t properly start until Year 3 over here)
I’d agree with just doing dancing and no other activities. I think that’s plenty for young children.
Also, remember with netball, they might benefit from practising more ball skills, but children don’t have the maturity to work as a team until 7 -8 y.o.
ooo its such a hard question and there are no easy answers! This last year has been a huge eye opener for us as all three boys are now at school so thus all want to do stuff.
At the moment Jordan does, guitar lessons, swimming, scouts and landcare. Landcare is related to Scouts though as it is part of his badgework.
Thomas does piano lessons, swimming, cubs and little athletics and William does swimming, little athletics and Joey Scouts.
Tom is in year 3 and has only just started music, I have told William he can start learning an instrument in Year 3 as well (Jordan was year 5).
Normally I say to the kids they can do two things but somehow we have creeped up to four things. The only way this has been possible though is that all three kids do swimming at the same time (I was lucky!), the two boys do music at the same time, and of course athletics is at the same time.
I am also a leader at the scout group so we almost dont consider it an activity, it is just something WE DO! lol
No simple answers, although I wouldnt be too worried yet, it really has only been the last year or so that we have done so many activities. And William in his second year at school has only just started activities.
This is something I’m struggling with too Kate, with LB just starting kindy this year (big school). He was already doing swimming, and we’re enrolling him in soccer. But then the school is doing a free after school sport activity on Thursdays (how can I say no?), and a dance group (which he loves!). Between all of that, I’m sure he’ll be exhausted – adding in fortnightly 4 hour return trips to my parents on Wednesdays.
We’re going to see how he (us!!) goes this first term, and we were thinking about stopping swimming BUT putting him into swimming during the school holidays for intensive training – our centre offers it in school holidays for a week. So that would be effectively 20 lessons in the space of a 4 week period (split over 4 x holidays). That way the other sports would be on holidays and he could concentrate on his swimming then. He has been swimming for the last 2 years.
I am not there yet on my parenting journey but I wholeheartedly agree that kids need time to be kids and I think that if it is truly a passion, then it will still be of interest in 12 months time.
Hi Kate :)
Excuse me while I ramble, we are in exactly the same situation. I started Milly this year with netball for similar reasons, improve her (lacking) ball skills and coordination, improve confidence, and to get in early before everyone else knew how to play. Seriously, best decision ever, she’s LOVING it. She feels part of something, her skills are improving, and she now has 7 other girls she knows at school to be friends with. Be warned though it’s probably two nights a week, one practise, one game. We are going to drop swimming during the school term and do SwimVac instead for a week in the holidays, and ballet will continue (only 1/2 hr) while she still wants to. Music for now will wait for us, at least until next year and will definitely be in school time.
Such a juggling act, isn’t it?!