There’s one thing that I look forward to more than anything about the long 6 week summer holiday and that’s the chance to STOP. For 13 weeks it feels as though we are on a merry-go-round, one which gets increasingly faster as the weeks go by: early mornings, hurried breakfasts, tardy arrivals at school, tetchy walks home, rushed present-buying for the latest birthday party, turfing through the wash bin for uniform that will ‘pass’ as clean and all of this on less and less sleep.
In amongst this chaotic whirlwind of a life, we will also be attending concerts, ‘watching weeks’ and various performances related to the umpteen extra-curricular activities that my children frequent. Is it just me? Please tell me it is not only me who leads this crazy life of ferrying children from one activity to the next with very little time to breath in between (that’s me, the taxi driver, who doesn’t get a chance to breath by the way, not them)?
Ever since my children were born, we’ve been attending some kind of ‘activity’ be it Jo Jingles, Tumble Tots or Baby Massage classes and it would seem that most people I come across, do the same. The other thing we have in common, is that we are all constantly moaning about it! So why do we do this to ourselves and to our children? I’ve been pondering this question over the last few days and I have come up with various reasons, most of which have been the source of my motivation at one time or another:
- because everyone else is doing it
- to allay guilt
- because we didn’t get these opportunities in our childhood
- because our child has amazing persuasion techniques
- to keep our children amused
- because we always secretly hope we might have the next budding child star/Olympic sensation/premiership footballer on our hands
- because we believe it promotes a well-rounded individual
Right now you’re probably thinking that I’m a push-over, that I allow my children to do whatever they like, no expense spared. The truth is, we do have a (loose) system in place, one which goes something like this…. each child is allowed to do 4 paid-for activities every week: a sport; a fun activity of their choice; Guides or cubs; and a musical instrument.
Obviously our children are not all the same, one chooses not to do a sport or learn a musical instrument (we’ve been down that road and what ensued is certainly more than a blog post worth of material!). The other two are constantly nagging to do more but we’ve decided to draw the line at 4. Not just because of the cost involved (I can’t bring myself to share that piece of information!) but due to the time we spend doing them. If you do the maths, our system already involves 12 different car journeys and I haven’t even mentioned the church groups and school orchestra that they attend – both are free and wholesome activities but still require a lift to and from.
What’s on offer for our children these days is quite incredible…..synchronised swimming – really?! How easy it would be to cave in to their pleas and allow more hobbies, but I know that we are pretty much at breaking point already. If they want to try something new, then something else has to go, it’s a simple as that.
The OH and I had very different upbringings: as a child I went to ballet, swimming, piano lessons, gymnastics and brownies…he did nothing. Being one of 8 children and living in a rural community, these activities were not on offer. It’s taken him a long time to get his head around all of this busyness and frantic activity. Our own very fortunate children take pity on their daddy and feel sorry for their peers (the very few who don’t do any extra-curricular activities), viewing them as deprived. I look at the parents with a certain envy – they had the guts to throw off the shackles of expectation and not bow to peer pressure….
What’s your view of extra-curricular activities for children? Do you find them a chore or do you love to see them having fun? Do you think that children are spoilt these days? Are we pushing them too hard?
Just another 10 days folks…..and we’ll be free!