After School Activities

After school activities, or extracurricular activities are important.  My wife and I were not as lucky as our kids are today.  We didn’t have the opportunities that our kids have.  This was partly due to lack of funds, parents had to work, and lack of activities offered in our areas.  Now that we are adults, we are in a situation where we have time off after school to let our kids participate.  The area has a lot of activities to choose from, and we have been lucky enough to get them involved.

I’m not condemning people who don’t let their kids partake in after school activities.  I understand that each family has different situations.  The kids may not want to participate either.  You can lead them, but you can’t force them.  Remember, my wife and I didn’t do anything except that I played one year of little league.  You don’t need to participate in activities to be healthy, and active.  It’s just another way to do it.  For me, it probably would have kept me out of trouble as well, because with nothing to do after school?  I got into all sorts of trouble.

Now finding the balance is something I wanted to cover.  How much activities do you put your kids in?  How much is too much?  Is there such thing as too few activities?   Are activities too much of a good thing?

We don’t have neighbors with kids that are our children’s age.  So they get to play with others their same age through team sports.  We also want to get them involved, and for them to find out what they like.  The best way to do that is to get them into everything.

This year was busy.  Our eldest was in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, and Tumble at a private dance academy.  Our youngest was in Intro To Ballet, Intro to Tap, and Tumble at the same place.  That was 3 days of classes a week.  Some on weekdays, and some on weekends.  This lasted for the whole school year.  August-May.

Throughout the school year, we also did Soccer in the Fall for my eldest, Basketball in the Winter for my eldest, T-ball in the Spring for my youngest, and Softball in the spring for my eldest.  Our youngest will be doing the same sports when she’s older.  This meant that we had practices and games during the work week, as well as the weekends to go along with the dance studio practices…

It’s been fine for the kids.  They love it. It’s been hard on us parents.  We’ve had to adjust schedules, have one go to one game, and another go to the other game.  We had to get help sometimes from friends to get someone in place.  Having so many practices has led me to sleep in the car as I waited for them to finish, or trying to stay protected in the elements.

Is it too much though?  Different kind of dance styles plus sports?  Both kids love the sports or dances they do.  They constantly want to go back, and never complain.  They also have to take care of academic assignments at home as well.  I don’t feel like it’s too much, because the sports are spread out in seasons.  The dance studio stuff isn’t too taxing either.

My wife and I are limited on a lot of things we can do personally for ourselves now.  That’s one of the major drawbacks.  I don’t feel all that bad about that.  There are times when I want to write, but I can’t.  It doesn’t bug me though.  It’s a sacrifice on our part, but who knows where it will lead.  We also already had our time.  It’s the kids time now.  I used to look back on my childhood, and my childhood friends.  I used to wish that I could play the sports that they did.  We don’t want our kids to look back, and wish they played sports.  We even thought about paying for private tennis, and golf lessons throughout the year.

Throwing those two extra sports seems like too much, but I think it’s ok when they’re this young.  I assume that they’ll stop liking some of the sports by the time they turn 10, and we can start focusing on just one sport/dance style at that point.  Instead of trying everything out, they can pick the one they like the best, and we can get them very involved in just that.  I like the idea that they have something to focus on, and something to do instead of running wild like I did.  I needed structure, and needed to be more responsible growing up.  I think these dance activities, and team sports will help my kids keep them off of the path that I took.

One hang up I see is how much time we have to invest.  It costs a lot of money to be in all of these activities, but that’s why there are jobs.  A problem is the time.  We give up afternoons, weekends, and opportunities to travel throughout the year.  There’s always a practice or game coming up…  Another problem is that some sports have extended seasons.

I loved seeing my eldest being picked for All Stars in her softball league.  It’s so awesome to see her light up when she plays, and it’s just the first year of playing the sport after just 1 year of t-ball.  For me, it didn’t get easier as another month of sports was added to the schedule when we usually had that time off.  It meant longer, and more frequent practices.  We practice everyday, and there’s lots of driving.  More weekends going to the ball park, and spending my time trying to keep the mosquitoes away.  Everything should have ended 2 weeks ago, and we should be enjoying a lazy summer break.  Nope.  We have the All Star District Tourney.

Not only that, we have the opportunity to go to State if their team places in the top 3.  That’s another 2 more weeks of daily practices, afternoons at the ball park, and traveling far.  The State tourney is near the Western border of North Carolina.  We live on the Crystal Coast.  That’s an 8 hour drive to the mountains.  We’ll have to get hotel rooms, and then there’s work, and other things we have to take care of during the week.

I love how my eldest is so excited, but I am so ready for a break!  Summer started already, but we’re still in this season.  It’s the season that never ends.  Some of the other parents are groaning as loud as I am, and talking about how they can’t wait for the season to end.  They would love for the kids to go to State, but wouldn’t shed any tears if the team lost in the district tourney.

It’s funny.  1st World problems right?  This is what we signed up for, so can’t complain.  Oh well.  This is just an activity to keep them busy, healthy, and active.  If the kids can have fun, win some games, and earn some trophies?  Then why not.  It’s all for them anyways.  Maybe it’s time for me to invest in a laptop anyways. Being able to write on the run should make hanging out for a few hours a day at practice a more enjoyable experience.

Copyright 2016. PRP3 The Author Media

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