Once your children have moved on from baby classes and toddler groups, the time comes to choose after school clubs. You might be under the impression that choosing kid’s activities is about helping them to find something they’re passionate about and have fun. While that’s one way to go about it, I would suggest you subject each activity to the acid test by asking these questions and see what makes the cut.
Will it involve you standing in the rain?
The first point to consider is weather the activity takes place inside or outside. Boy Child plays football and that involves a parent standing on the sidelines and cheering, in all weathers. Of course that parent isn’t me. Football is Daddy’s responsibility and I can’t possibly go with them if the weather is bad because I can’t make Girl Child stand in the ran for hours now can I? Outdoor sports are a fine choice as long as someone else is going to take them.
Is it dump and run or stay and “watch”?
It’s a good idea, before committing to an activity, to ascertain weather you can drop your child off or if you need to stay and “watch”. Dump and run is great if the activity is a bit longer so you’ll be able to get something done. Stay and “watch” can be pretty good too as long as there is a warm, comfortable place where you can do the “watching” (and by watching I mean reading your book/scrolling through Instagram/staring blankly into space). Ideally, good coffee should be available too. Just beware of activities where there are a lot of younger siblings “watching” (and by watching I mean, screaming, throwing stuff and crying).
Will they need to practice it at home?
Learning a musical instrument may seem like a lovely idea. Your child will be expressing themselves creatively while learning discipline and music appreciation. However, learning to play an instrument requires practice. Consider carefully how hard it is to get your child to do their homework before committing to something else you’ll have to nag them about.
Will it bankrupt you?
Hobbies can be expensive. For sports you’ll need to buy kit, for music you’ll need to buy an instrument, if they’re involved in dance or drama you’ll have to pay for show tickets. Not to mention the amount of money you’ll spend on petrol transporting them all over the country if they compete. The ultimate in expensive hobbies is of course, horse riding. I highly recommend you keep your child as far away from ponies as you possibly can. If you want to know just how much it costs, ask my poor (bankrupt) mother. If you’re looking for an excellent and cheap activity, consider Scouting.
Does it start at 9am on a Sunday
No. Just no. Sundays are for sleeping late, having brunch instead of breakfast and remaining in your pjs for as long as possible.
Will it involve you having to watch a lot of children that aren’t yours?
Boy Child recently started dance classes and we will soon be going to watch his first show. The trouble is, while I’m looking forward to seeing him perform, the show is three hours long and his section is about ten minutes. I can’t say I’m looking forward to “watching” the rest.
A special note about swimming
Swimming is the worst of all the after school activities. Getting a child dressed when it’s are wet is my least favourite thing to do. Getting two of them dressed is hell. However, swimming is important, so here are some points to consider when choosing where your weekly trauma will take place:
- Is there a rule about no outside shoes? If there is, and they provide those flattering blue shoe covers, not a big problem. If they don’t and you have to take off boots and socks in the middle of winter, it’s a hard no from me
- How hot is it? Some of these pool changing rooms are hotter than hell in a heatwave. Find somewhere you won’t be dripping with sweat by the end of it.
- Are there refreshments? One pool we used always had cupcakes for sale, this improved the experience no end. I highly recommend somewhere you can reward yourself for being a good parent by making sure your child learns to swim.
- Do they progress quickly? You’ll want to spend as smaller number of years doing swimming lessons as is possible. For this reason I recommend talking to other parents and finding somewhere kids are moved up as soon as they are ready and not held back so they can make more money out of you. I also recommend not starting until they are 5 because, frankly, they don’t seem to learn much before that point.
So those are the things you should consider when choosing kid’s activities. I’d love to hear what you love and hate about your kid’s activities.
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Crummy Mummy says
These are all excellent points! I wish I had had the foresight to consider some of these! #itsok
Tracey Carr says
Oh I really enjoyed reading this one because I have just reached that crucial time where my daughter is five and I am trying to choose a few activities for her. She definitely wants to go to gymnastics because some of her school friends already go so that is a certainty but I am pretty sure I can drop and go (which is great!). She is also asking about ballet so we are signing up for this September but I might have to sit for that one. They are definitely great points to consider when choosing their activities because everyone you pick affects you and if I am being honest I want as little hassle as possible! #itsok
Love this! I’m exactly the same. We tried hockey and football but after having to stand on the side-lines in the dark at -2 on a Friday night I quickly decided that it was not for them (read: me).
We do swimming and I detest having to get them dressed afterwards. Thank goodness they are both in the same 1/2 hour slot at the moment because being there for an hour is just gross!
Other than that, they do stuff at the school clubs so I don’t have to do anything.
Our other rule (for now) is that I don’t want to do anything on the weekends. The weekends are family time and we go away a lot. I don’t want my trips to be interrupted by weekend sports. Not for me.
We stuck with the no weekend activities rule for ages but eventually relented because my oldest was desperate to do football, it puts a right spanner in the works now! X
Sophie Holmes says
I love this, it’s so true! The other thing that you need to consider is the risk of injury and how many times you may end up visiting A&E….I keep trying to convince my eldest to be a snooker player rather than a cyclist…not working at the moment though… #ItsOK
Oh god, yes, hadn’t considered that as mine usually ends up in A&E as a result of soft play but that’s definitely a factor! X
Teresa | Happymomhacks says
Laughed out loud when I read will it involve rain. Great question I wish i would have asked before signing my kids up for baseball.
Giant umbrella for you then! X
Nicole - Tales from Mamaville says
Bang in the middle of it, so completely agree with you. It needs to be enjoyable and practical too – for everyone involved!
PS: I hate the swimming ones too because of all the effort involved, but that’s one activity we’re not going to ditch. So I just try and make the best of it. Cupcakes would definitely help!
Great post, thanks for sharing with #itsok
Helen Copson says
We’ve not even got to school yet and we’re already doing sweaty swimming, and 9am on a Saturday taekwondo (which replaced 9am on a Sunday rugby). Loving your tips for choosing. I’m concerned with 3 boys, at some point in my life I’m going to get rained on. #itsok
Yep, you may struggle to stay dry. Nice job changing the 9am Sunday outdoor activity for a Saturday indoor one though! X
This really has just made me laugh out loud. I have just cancelled an activity on a Friday night as it was interfering with my wine. I hate weekend activities and swimming on Wednesday is the biggest stress of the week. Spoken like a true mum, good for you 🙂
Nothing must interfere with Friday night wine! I used to have swimming on a Friday night, that was the worst!
Very sage advice. I’m still stuck in baby and toddler group mode at the moment, but I’ll bear this in mind for a few years’ time! #itsOK
I kind of miss the baby and toddler groups now! X
Nice guidance there! We’re still at the toddler activities age just now but she’s quickly growing out of that.
Marta - Imperfect Life Balance says
All great points to consider. It needs to be a good fit for the kids and for you. I thought it would be easy to decide until I had to make those decisions. And then it gets super complicated when you have two kids😂 thanks for sharing this list!
Definitely harder with two, can’t imagine what people do with three or more! X
Jo | My Anxious Life says
Ha! We’ve just been presented with the list of potential after school activities for when eldest starts school in September, so are currently having to ponder these very questions!! Whilst I’m all for pushing dance, drama and yoga, husband is very keen for football, rugby and any/all other sports. No one yet cares what child actually wants to do……….
As it should be, they have no idea what’s best for them!