Friday, 15 March 2013

Extracurricular Activity Guilt

I know... cute, right?

That was me, age 5, in costume for my first tap routine, "At the Codfish Ball", at my first dance recital. 

That was just the beginning.

Within the next two years, I was taking even more classes, and entering dance competitions and I continued dancing all the way through high school. 

I also remember swimming lessons, soccer and even theatre classes for a while.

Fast forward to today, and the extracurricular activities of my children.

My oldest is 6 and half.  The middle daughter is almost five.

They've been in swimming lessons, and a smattering of ballet classes and sports programs through the city's parks and recreation department.  And last fall, in our first attempt to commit to a more structured extracurricular activity, they took a weekly class at a local gymnastics club.

It was a weeknight class. From 6 to 7 o'clock for Kindergym.  And 7 to 8 o'clock for the older kids' recreational class.  The program lasted about ten weeks, and it nearly killed me.  Rushing home from work to pick them up from daycare, driving them to the gym, eating a packed dinner to eat before class, during class, or after class, waiting for my husband to arrive at the gym on his way home from work, him driving the younger two home once Kindergym had finished, me sticking aroung until 8 o'clock, taking transit home and ushering the oldest to bed.

We decided that weeknight classes are not worth the stress. 

But weekends are precious.  Do we really want to schedule more than one activity per weekend?  Potentially multiplied by three.

With two full-time jobs plus commuting times, and our desire for priority on family dinners and down-time, will we ever be able to commit to the time and schedules of extracurricular activities for our children?

It's not that I want my girls to follow in my footsteps.  And let me be clear: I do not want to be a dance mom.

But I worry that I'm not giving my daughters the opportunities they deserve to find a passion.  Or at least an extracurricular activity to pursue.

I know.  They're pretty young.  And I know this sounds crazy.  But I don't want to be responsible for denying them the chance to get good at something.  I think of talented musicians, elite level athletes, and skilled artists. It kind of goes with the idea that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery

My daughter is coming up to 7.  If she doesn't start at something soon, how will she ever get good at anything?

How do you decide what activities for your children to pursue?  And how on earth, do you manage to fit it all into your busy schedules and life?

1 comment:

  1. I'm in a similar situation, but I only have one kid. I just can't swing evening classes after we get home from work/school/after-school care, and get the family fed and into bed at a reasonable hour AND get all the other things done that I need to do. I also believe in lots of downtime for kids - my girl has a long day and she needs to wind down at the end of it. So do we.

    I'm not sure what the right answer is. I hadn't really considered the 10000 hours theory in relation to kid's activities and it's something to think about. If an activity began to manifest as a passion, I would do my best to support it, but I don't know how I will do that yet.