I get so many questions on how we decide what extracurricular activities for kids are best, so I decided to put everything in one place. Keep reading for all the details, plus a few budgeting tips!
Raise your hand if you have a love/hate relationship with extracurricular activities for kids! RAISING MY HAND HIGH OVER HERE! I LOVE watching my kids play their favorite sports and gain so much confidence through them. I don't love running around like a mad woman trying to figure out which way is North or South. Can I be real for a minute, are there REALLY people out there that know their cardinal directions?! #magicalhumans
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To mostly LOVE sports for kids, I had to develop a plan. In our family we love being home, but we also love being involved! I get so many questions about this topic that I decided to put everything in one place on YouTube! Make sure to subscribe because we have new videos every Thursday! Are you ready for the whole shabang? Here we go!
Watch the video online here, or click and watch below:
Whew, that was a lot of info! Don't worry, I have a step-by-step guide below.
SET BOUNDARIES WITH EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
In our family, we've decided that we do not want to do any sports on Sundays. For religious and family reasons, we really just wanted one day per week where we were home and with family. With that boundary, there were certain decisions that had to be made. Some of the leagues my oldest son wanted to participate in had games or practices on Sundays so we simply found another league to put him in.
We've also had a time with my daughter when she had a competition and convention that fell on a Sunday. We went on Saturday so she could compete with the rest of her team. We left early and she missed out on all of the classes on Sunday. It was a big bummer because we just lost out on the money that we paid. But, we were okay with it because we made the decision beforehand.
Another boundary that we've set and have been able to live by so far, is that we don't like sports on Fridays or Saturdays. Hello Date Night! Sometimes things pop up that are occasional and we make it work. We'll either find another league in a different city or find a different activity for them when they want to do a sport that has weekly games or practices on Friday nights or Saturdays. Please don't remind me that high school will change all of this!
BUDGET FOR EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
We get all of the information about extracurricular activities for kids ahead of time. This helps us to know what all of the fees are and all of the equipment that's necessary so nothing surprises us financially. Also, whenever we can, we pay in full upfront! We usually get a pretty big discount for doing this especially for something at a studio with an activity like dance. I don't know anyone that can say no to a good discount!
How do you know what sports you can afford? That comes back to my 70% rule taught extensively in Budget Boot Camp. (Use code FCFBLOG for 10% off.) In short, after everything comes out of your paycheck, taxes, 401K, etc, you should never spend more than 70% of that paycheck. If you're spending more than 70% of your paychecks, you'll be living too tight and might end up loving off of credit cards.
Take everything that's a necessity- mortgage, bills, groceries, utilities, clothes. I think you get the picture! After you've added all of that up, that's what's left of your 70%. Then you have to decide if extracurricular activities for kids are what you want to spend it on. The money has to come from somewhere, so unless you have a secret money tree in your backyard, you really need to fit it into your budget. (If you do have a secret money tree, can I have a few seeds?)
Get creative with your budget if you can't make it work. Have your kids get a job, earn money, and find ways to get the extras that they want. Ask for discounts, shop second hand for equipment and specialty items.
Some people put their kids in super competitive sports from an early age because they think they'll love it, and that's fine. My daughter Priya was in a toddler tumbling class when she was 4 and a teacher told us she needed to be put in a real class because of her talent. Within a few months, she was able to do 22 back handsprings in a row! She outgrew the small tumbling studio she was in so we moved her to a bigger and better one with all-around gymnastics.
What we didn't do was think about the commitment before we put her in there. She would eventually need to be at classes 5-6 hours per day 6 days a week with us spending hundreds to thousands a month and it would be her only sport. As hard as it was to pull her from all around, we knew it was the right move because it did not fit with the boundaries we had set as a family. We moved her to tramp and tumbling and it was the perfect blend because there are competitions if she wants, it's much more affordable and way more flexible.
Surprisingly, Hutch started showing a huge interest in tumbling while he was watching her practice. To make a long story short, he got involved and both of them are on a competitive track. Wouldn't you know that BOTH of my kids are now state champions!
HOW MANY EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS AT ONCE?
We feel like our kids can manage two activities at once depending on the activity. Beck did a city basketball league and a cooking class that he really wanted to do at the same time. Hutch is a good student and has great grades, so he's doing baseball and competitive tumbling. It's a busy schedule, but he's rocking it! Mory, our two-year-old is in dance with one class one day a week. It's in the same studio as her sisters, so it's perfect!
We've always wanted our kids to play music. Lessons for that used to be on top of everything else, but we found pretty much the BEST APP EVER and he's able to work on his piano from home. It's only $10 a month and makes learning music fun for him. He's improving and begs us to practice every day! We love that they can fit this in with their other activities and we aren't running them around everywhere to make it work.
CONSIDER YOUR LIFESTYLE AND CONVENIENCE
Carpool will save your life! Let me say that a few more times, carpool, carpool, carpool! When you have 6 kids and one of them is a baby, it's a lot of work getting those kids in and out of car seats 5 million times a day. I text my friends before we sign up for activities and see if any of their kids are doing the same ones and if we want to carpool. If they aren't we go to practices and meet some of the parents and get to know them. We like to start up a group chat on GroupMe and can keep in communication with the other parents that way.
We also try to lump our kids and activities together. Right now we have four of our kids doing competitive tumbling or a little exercise class. All of them are going to the same gym and hopefully around the same time so I'm not running around to 4 different places several times a week. I also stack most practices on Wednesdays. It's our leftover or crockpot day, so it makes dinner easy. While Wednesdays can be a little busy, that frees up a ton of time the rest of the week.
A lot of people have asked, “What do you do if you've signed your kid up for something and they start complaining and don't want to do it anymore? Are they just being a kid? Are they just complaining? Do I push for them to keep going or do I let them quit?” This is a part of being a parent that's hard. Our philosophy is that we do a lot of research before we sign up, but once we sign up, we're committed. In the Page family, when we commit to something we don't bail. When people or a team are counting on us, we show up and finish out the season. With the exception of vacations or unavoidable events, of course!
One BIG exception to this is considering your child's physical and mental health. Our daughter was at a gym where she was having some issues and it was becoming toxic. Her self-esteem was being affected and she was having some anxiety. At 6 years old she started having knee and back problems. OH, HECK NO! These were red flags for me that their technique or lack thereof was hurting my child physically. More than that, their coaching style was hurting her mentally and emotionally. We pulled her out, let her take a break, and got her healthy. After a few months, we found a new gym that fit in our boundaries and we've been there ever since.
Your kids need to come first. If they're suffering in school or if their grades are suffering you might have to step in. I have to stress that there's no activity, reward, medal, or trophy that can replace your relationship with your child or their physical or mental health. Just really try to remain in tune as a parent when it comes to extracurricular activities for kids. Encourage them and push them, but watch for those red flags that might be harmful or detrimental to your child.
I hope this was at least a little helpful! I'm curious, though, how do YOU manage extracurricular activities and sports for kids? Let me know in the comments below!
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We're cheering you on!