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. 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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