Monday, February 21, 2011

The Art of Choosing Children's Activities

I'm coming to the conclusion that parenting involves a lot of guilt, especially when you're a working mom. OK, maybe I came to the conclusion a while ago, but it doesn't seem to go away.  And when it comes to enrolling your kids in activities, it's no exception.

I know several moms who have more flexible schedules than me and who have their kids in lots of after school and weekend activities.  I've done some activities, more so with my son who is older, but I never feel like I'm doing enough.  He's not in hockey or skiing or anything at all this winter.  I did sign him up for 4 different enrichment classes in the after-school program which he loves:  this semester it's cooking, crystal growing, jr. sports and tennis.  This makes me feel a little better - he's doing something!  It's just next to impossible to get home from work and then get him to an activity, particularly when I have a 3 year old to pick up from daycare too.  My husband travels for work and doesn't usually get home until 6:30pm when he is in town.  So it's kind of all on me.

Last spring we did street hockey once during the week, t-ball in the summer on Saturdays, and then soccer in the fall during the week.  It was a mad rush to leave work and get him to the activity on time during the work week, and then having something on Saturday meant being stuck in the city every weekend and/or finding something for our other little one to do.  In the fall we did ballet for my daughter and every Saturday morning I had to plead with her to actually go.  She decided she hated it after 3 classes.  Does the weekend really come to be all about the children's activities?  And even more so, does it become about fighting with them to go to these activities every weekend?  Never mind the waste of money when they don't want to go or hate it.  We've asked them if they want to go skiing, but they always say no.  I'm thinking we should go anyway, but it always seems like a huge obstacle to get them kicking and screaming out the door - the last thing you feel like doing after a long week at work.

When I was little, my mom stayed at home and had me in everything from skating, ballet, jazz, gymnastics, baton, horse back riding, swimming, skiing amongst just a few LOL.  As I got older, I excelled at figure skating and horse back riding, but by age 7, I was fully entrenched in the world of competitive figure skating (being bussed around the province to compete).  My mom really dedicated herself to taking me to practices and competitions - it was almost a full time job.  What happens if my kids excel and want to purse something?  Yikes!  But yikes too if they don't!  Then I feel bad that I didn't expose them to enough.

This coming summer, my son will be going to day camp for the first time.  The one we chose is very much like an overnight camp  - they have all kinds of activities, including sports, art, music and nature.  I feel like this takes the pressure off having to actually enroll him in any outside activities during the summer time (phew).  My daughter's daycare thankfully has an outdoor pool and she goes both with her class and takes private lessons.  She is also taking yoga as part of the program (she was doing the ballet option, but as I mentioned, not so successful).  I feel like I'm off the hook for now.

So where does that leave me?  I will rely a lot on what the school enrichment programs and camps can offer.  I will still try to encourage them to try new activities, maybe just not as many as when I was a kid.  I will also wait and see if there is anything in particular that they like and then make a commitment to try and pursue what it is they show a little passion for.  I figure that way I can at least eliminate the fight to get them there.  Also, focusing on only one major activity per child at a time should make it more manageable.  I guess I will wait for the spring brochures to come out, and then see if there is anything they would like to do. 
Check out activities for Cote St-Luc.  Other places to find activities by area are The Kid Scoop and Montreal Families - a good place to start.

Charley's 1st (and probably last) ballet recital.  Well, she looked cute!

One activity Myles loves - rock climbing!


  1. Phew!!!!!!!! I'm exhausted just reading this! What ever happened to apiece of tupper ware and a wooden spoon? In my opinion we put way more pressure on ourselves and then in turn on our kids than need be. It's fine to exposethem certainly but there is such a thing as over kill. The competitive environment we live in, coupled with our own personal need to give our kids EVERYTHING, again in my opinion, only serves to confuse and frustrate more than anything else. I tried to do the same with my daughter when she was little but soon realized that there was little time for just us - museums, and long walks and having lunch and talking about stuff, and picnics. She got to touch on pretty much everything but in smaller, more manageable doses - we were both way calmer and bettre adjusted as a result. Believe me, they won't miss out on anything!

  2. I couldn't agree more... I hear friends telling me that they go crazy after school break because by the end of two weeks, nobody knows what to do with themselves (or each other) and are bored silly. It's sad to think we don't know how to just "be" anymore... thanks for sharing!