Extra-Curricular Activities – How to Decide?

Depending on how you organise your week, you will usually find some time in your children’s schedule to fill with extra-curricular activities. And these days, there are a plethora of excellent activities out there that you can get your children involved in. From swimming to taekwondo, music lessons, art and coding classes to gymnastics and ballet.

The list is endless.

For me personally, I think one of the curses of our times, is the sheer number of choices available for practically anything! It can be mind boggling.

Give me a menu for example, at a restaurant and ask me to select from the list of options available for appetisers, mains, desserts and drinks. I immediately start to panic and then I hand that big list back to my husband who is happy to oblige and decide for all of us.

Am I the only one who panics at the sight of a menu?

Deciding what activities to get your children involved in can be challenging.
How do you choose from the options available?
How do you stop feeling mummy guilt about not involving your kids in ALL of these activities?
How do you resist comparing yourself with other mums and families who seem to have their kids in just about every club and extra-curricular class around?
The struggle is real!

First, take a deep breath and take your concerns to the Lord. Ask Him for wisdom, He promises to give wisdom if you ask.

I found these questions helpful when thinking through the available myriad of options:

  1. How beneficial and valuable is this activity?
    Is it an important life skill and what values will it teach?
    What are its short and long-term benefits?
    And conversely, what are the risks of not doing this activity?

    For example, teaching the children the life skill of swimming has been a top priority for us because of the risks they face of not being swim safe. Attending a kid’s Bible study class, where they fellowship with kids from their church and neighbourhood has been another activity that we ranked high up on our list. We want our children to develop strong friendships with other Christian children in our local area and have a safe space to ask questions.

  2. Is it affordable?

    This is an important question as a family with a single income. I don’t want to get into debt paying for extra-curricular activities for multiple children. The simple rule is this: if we can’t afford it, we don’t do it. Although having said that, if the activity is important enough (see point 1), I would start looking for more economical alternatives or perhaps start budgeting for it.

  3. Is it a good fit for my child’s learning style, natural abilities and interests? This past year of home education I have been better able to appreciate some of children’s natural interests and abilities. For example, my middle child is highly creative and artistic, and I have often thought that he could benefit from Art classes. My little girl has shown a lot of interest in dancing and ballet. This brings me to the next point.

  4. Are you able to manage driving multiple children to multiple activities throughout the week?
    How often does the activity take place?
    Additionally, what does your season of life look like now?
    I think it is important as a home school mum to assess your abilities and interests too.
    What are your energy levels like usually during the week?
    Can your spouse make some of these trips?
    If you have multiple kids in different activities, what will the kids who are not participating be doing?
    Will they be at home and who will take care of them or is there a place where they can hangout with you (without moaning) while their siblings are at the activity?

    Visualise your week with these extra activities in place and the fact that you still need to home school, cook, clean and be a mum.
    Do all these additional activities bring you joy (despite the additional workload) at the prospect of your kids learning new skills or do you think you would start to tear your hair out start to begrudge it?

  5. Finally, ask yourself the difficult questions.
    What if you didn’t do this activity?
    Can it be delayed and done at a different time and season?
    Are you interested in this activity because so-and-so is doing it or because you feel you missed out on learning this as a kid or because you feel your kids should excel in an area that they may not be interested in?

Taking the time to think through some of these questions can be immensely helpful when deciding on a suitable activity for your kids. Like the law of diminishing returns, I have found that being engaged in too many activities, can have a negative impact not only on your children but also on yourself. A friend was relating the other day how a particular activity was starting to dominate a child’s and the family’s life and I have heard of other mums who said that they were exhausted with the amount of car trips in a week.

It will take some trial and error to find that ‘sweet spot’, but I believe it will be worth your time to sit down with your spouse and prayerfully think through this matter.

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