The fine line of over-programming, or NOT programming your kids.

Extra curricular activities can be expensive. I know this well because two of our three daughters picked two of the most expensive ones. Figure skating, and horseback riding. I tried with all my mom might to get them to fall in love with playing the electric keyboard, that would one day down the road, lead to a super fabulous excuse for a family piano, to no avail. Which means buying a piano and learning to play it remains a solid item on my bucket list.

What do you do when you’ve got a kid who has many interests, but you either have more than one kid with interests and desires to partake in extracurricular activities, or you, like we were for many years, because kids are expensive; are tight on cash. Being a parent is a tough gig, so many things to answer to our kids about, that often may be outside their maturity level. Yet still we have to give them some explanation as to why they can’t do 500 things like Paul and Sarah are doing. This is how we handled this conundrum with our girls, we would say these three things, not always in this order, but these were our go to reasons why not: 1) because there are only so many hours in a day 2) I am only one person who can only be in one place at a time and 3) I ain’t got no money tree growing in my back yard.

Then we allowed them each to pick ONE extra curricular activity to participate in. Once they were signed up for the program, they had to see it through, even if they HATED the activity. This taught them three things: 1) do your research before just jumping into something, make sure it’s something you’re really authentically interested in before enlisting my money and both our time in it 2) you finish what you start. No quitting allowed. and 3) money doesn’t go on trees, so spend it wisely.

As I say in the on-air segment, there are so many free alternatives, at least there are here in Canada, for kids to participate in after school programs that won’t break the bank, and in many cases don’t even involve your wallet. There’s no reason for a child not be involved in something, unless it’s not on the family radar to look into where these free programs are. I do believe, wholeheartedly that is important and essential for kids to participate in group activities/sports. It teaches them team building, how to communicate effectively and how to work together toward a common goal despite different backgrounds. I think we as parents need to do whatever it takes, to the best of our ability to find one thing to enroll our kid in that involves spending time with their peers, and other adults who will instill discipline and respect for fellow humans.

I’m not trying to pull a GOOP on anybody, shaming you about things you might not be able to afford. I’m merely trying to help, by bringing awareness to the options that might be out there in your community to find activities for your kids, that you might not know exist. Activities that can develop the important skills that come from participating in hobbies outside of their homes. Like how about them fearlessly exploring the arts, where they might discover new and hidden talents, and passions. Any way you slice the extracurricular pie, finding something that your child connects with, will only have positive payback for them and you.

Now that you’re done reading this post, ask your kid, if they’re not currently in a program, sit down and talk to them about their passions, about things that excite them. Then set about finding that activity in your neighborhood and budget. Then final step; message me to tell me how it goes!!