Less than 2 weeks left of school holidays here I thought I’d do a series of posts on back to school just to get us in the mood and for all the new school mums out there too. I’m no expert and I know some of you have been there and done that so I”m sure we can all learn from each other.
Today I’m talking activities. Kids love to try new things and after school activities are great for health, fitness, finding out what our kids are good at and enjoy doing, they help them learn new skills, make new friends and I could go on. They also take time, money, driving and can overload a little person’s already busy life. We’ve gone from having lots of activities to hardly any to picking what we really love and I thought I’d share what we do and ask what you do at your house.
this is the non negotiable activity because it’s a life skill and also because I can’t dive or swim 50 metres. I’m like one of those ladies you see with head and hair out of the water doing a bit of breaststroke. That’s me. Just like my own mum. So swimming is saturday afternoons for the big kids, sunday afternoon for our little miss at a special swimming club and our 2 year old is on a little break after screaming down the whole swimming pool each week. We’ve been working on him at home. If weekly lessons are too much in terms of time and money look for school holiday programs. Our kids also do a term of swimming at school which I love.
Great for team work, physical fitness, it’s generally affordable (about $100 for us for the season), they get to train once a week and play the game, if friends are involved you can share the driving and it’s a great way to make friends. Girls do netball and boys do rugby in our house but there is lots to choose from and you don’t have to wait until school starts. You will need to put some volunteer hours in but we really enjoy going (I mean who doesn’t like a sausage sandwich on saturday morning or lunch time). Downside can be early morning starts, fitting in the training with homework and dinner, playing rain hail or shine and the cost of uniforms can add up but ask around as we were kindly given the rugby uniform when my friend’s sons switched to soccer.
I grew up playing piano from the age of 4 until year 11 so piano was always going to be an option here. We do lessons through the school – note to parents – activities through the school are great and save on driving the rest of the family around with you. The downside is they can miss some class time but it is usually swapped around so they are not always missing out on the same session. Last year all 3 at school did piano but it was just too expensive and the twins in kindy just weren’t that into it and our big girl loves it so our big girl will do piano this year as well as choir which she loves. We’ll wait a year or two for the twins. Look into group keyboard lessons, choir, band and when things come up at school. Also your school might offer a music program where they get to pick an instrument to hire and learn through the school and it’s much more affordable than private lessons.
Girl Guides or Scouts
We did guides for a year and she loved it. Not expensive, great way to meet children in the area from different schools, you do need to put some volunteer hours in, great life skills and fun and we really enjoyed it. I also think it’s great to get our kids away from the tv and popular culture and learn how to light a fire, roast marshmallows and other things and for us it really helped our big girl with her confidence and overcoming being shy. Really think it’s a great one to look at.
OK so I’m a little disappointed that my girls aren’t interested in dancing! Dancing is so great for fitness, fun, body strength and I am convinced that all the years I did of ballet until I was at uni are what have given me a really strong back and great core (ok not so great right at this moment) that have helped me get through 5 pregnancies including twins. It can be expensive for the fees, uniforms and there is the time commitment especially at concert time but it’s lots of fun. Hoping I can change the girls mind on the dancing but we did ballet for a few years.
We did a few terms of gymnastics and it’s lots of fun, was very expensive but helped our little girl with some skills for PE at school that she needed some help with. You do need to put the hours in to take them there and wait and if it’s too much during term time do some school holiday activities which are a great taster to see if they enjoy it and before you dish out a terms worth of fees. Look at your school and see if they offer gymnastics after school or have a team that you could put your children in.
Art classes are very popular in our house and we’ve taken a break since we moved and will look at holiday programs as our weekly schedule is quite busy during term time. This is great for creativity and really helps in the classroom especially if your school doesn’t have designated art teachers. The artwork they make is also great for presents. We had the most fabulous little art school right near home and must find one near us this year for holidays.
AND MY TOP TIPS WHEN IT COMES TO AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
be careful not to overload when they are in the early years of school! Kindergarten is a big year for little ones so keep the activities to a minimum so that they get enough play time after school and rest time.
learn to say no. It’s ok to say no when your kids ask to start another activity and you know you don’t have the funds or time to add another activity to the schedule. Look at other options like a free taster lesson or school holiday activity in what they want to do or they give up something they have on to swap to a new one.
keep dinners simple and plan ahead of time when you’re out at training/dancing or an activity after school. Nothing worse than coming home in the dark and everyone is whining about how hungry they are and you can’t think of what to cook. In a pinch we do toasted cheese sandwiches, pasta with lots of grated cheese and tuna or my old favourite the frittata.
keep a calender in the kitchen and once you know training schedules and times put all the dates in the calender for the term ahead so that you can easily see who has what, where and to help make appointments, playdates and other commitments.
don’t go crazy and think that your child needs to try everything in order to find their true talent! Kids don’t need to do 50 million activities, they need to play, eat, sleep, learn and be loved. Let them do what they love but don’t go crazy thinking they need to be in everything just because your friend/neighbour/relative has their kid in everything.
look at swimming lessons on weekends if you have a busy schedule or like me have lots of little ones. It is so hard to take the little ones to the pool because they start stripping down to get into the pool and are a handful. So we switched swimming to late on a weekend afternoon and it works well for everyone and dad gets to be involved in their progress
car pool can be your lifesaver if you have girls and boys off at different sports and training!
always pack snacks and drink bottles for everyone when you have an activity on including your littlest ones
invest in a warm puffer jacket or coat and a sun hat if you are planning on taking your kids to sport!
Over to you………..how do you pick and limit activities in your house?