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Should you register your kids in activities?

This is a tough one for me. School’s going back next week which means everyone out there is pushing registration for all those fun after school activities kids like to be a part of. But now I’m wonder if I should even bother to register my kids in activities?

Should you register your kids in activities?

With 5 kids activities are so much work, especially if there’s a drive involved. And then the expenses really add up! But I also feel like my kids should be doing something and I kind of feel like an awful parent when they’re not.

Now, we do some things. My second grader is in brownies (Girl Guides in Canada, Girl Scouts in the US) and the twins go to preschool 3x a week and I take them free daytime activities a lot. But the 10 and almost 12 year old – they’re not interested in doing anything. And with most kids in 2-3 activities each I can’t help but feel what we are doing isn’t enough.

I also don’t know how to cope with lack of interest. Last year, my 10 year old did jr rifles, which is competitive air rifle shooting. He was really bored of it and stuck out the year, but doesn’t want to go back. This year he would be travelling for competitions!

I get jealous

I admit it, I get a little bit jealous when I see pictures of other peoples’ kids at their dance recitals or competitions. My kids danced too, and all would like to, but the drive to the RWB is just too far and the local options aren’t what my kids are looking for.

I know some of there reason I want my kids in more stuff is so I can “keep up” with the other parents. And to quell the mom guilt.

What the experts say

Experts seem divided on what ideal should be. Some studies say that kids who participate in extra circulars do better in school and later in life, but of course this doesn’t account for the fact that people who can readily afford actives are of higher income levels and we know that’s linked to better outcomes.

Most professionals, though, say that limiting activities is important. Kids are over scheduled in the worst ways and that over scheduling isn’t making things better for anyone. Activities along with school work can even lead to anxiety in kids.

On the side of activities, they’re great for kids to get active, experience new things, and meet new friends. It’s also a way to subsidise education aspects that are lacking, for example, music education. Not to mention they can be fun!

The things I don’t want to sacrifice for extracurricular activies:

  • My kids’ sleep. Many activities run past bedtime! Especially if we have to drive.
  • Family dinners. We already have to eat early/easy on Girl Guides nights because of what time it’s at, I would hate to have dinner a mess a few nights a week.
  • Homework. These activities eat up the evening leaving little time for much else.
  • Play/relaxation. Kids go to school all day! They need unstructured play time and time to just chill out and recoup from the day.

Other things to consider

Since my twins get plenty of daytime actives we don’t really need evening ones, especially since there’s so much to do with preschoolers in our area. The oldest is taking art classes at school which mean extra homework and practising – this kind of serves as an activity as well and it’s actually something she wants to do.

We also try and do things as a family pretty regularly like the museum, zoo, and other local events.

We are really quite busy with 5 kids. Homework, dinner, and bedtime really does take up our entire evening and it’s hard to add getting the kids from place to place into that.

So what I’m doing

To be honest, I’m still not sure about what I want to do. The older kids have expressed an interest in learning to play piano, and it’s something I’m also fond of. I think I’ll save up to purchase one used (it’s about $500 to have it moved) or maybe a new electric piano since ours is broken. That way next year they can have music lessons.

I know my son also wants to try downhill skiing so we may try and get out there to do that a few times this winter. I personally haven’t done it in years but it’s one of my favourite sports!

I’m curious what everyone else is doing here.

Do you register your kids in activities? How do you balance it?

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