Extra Curricular Kids
Here’s the thing. Everyone knows these days that if you want to really excel at something you’ve (generally) got to get started pretty early as a kid. Not so much maths and science perhaps, but things like sports and music, absolutely. If you don’t start young, you’re behind the high-performance eight ball for sure and your Olympic dream will be over before it’s begun.
BUT, it’s a delicate balancing act. As a parent, I see it as my role to encourage the kids to try different things, and enable them opportunities to excel at something should they be interested in doing so. BUT, it is also my job to make sure my kids are well rested, not over-stretched (so they can concentrate at school), and can have time to just “be a kid”…whatever that means these days.
Soooo, I have to wonder, how TF as parents are we supposed to manage that? Where is the line between encouraging and enabling your kids to follow their interests, and making sure we don’t turn them into over-indulged wunderkids bound for Olympic stardom at the expense of their own childhood??
On a personal note, when I was a kid both my parents worked full time, so I spent every night at after-school care until it shut at 6pm. UNLESS of course my Dad forgot me (again) and I had to wait for him to get home – 40 mins away from my school – before anyone could reach him to remind him I was still there!! ANYWAY…given their working status there was no time or capacity for me to be involved in any extra-curricular activities from a young age, and once it turned out that I was actually quite good at a number of different sports when I took them up in high school, I have always regretted the opportunity not to get an earlier start to see how far I could have gone with them.
30 years later (ugh!) I do feel my stay-at-home Mum status is our chance to give our kids the opportunities I wished I’d had. But where do we stop?! At present my son does swimming and tennis all year round, cricket in the summer and AFL and soccer in the winter. He also wants to join the before-school running club! My girls do less but I often feel guilty as I know this is really because their brother is taking up so much extra-curricular real estate within the family…so naturally, to assuage my guilt, I’ve now booked them both into gym (again)!!
Obviously, all this costs a bloody fortune, but fortunately for us we can pretty much manage it (though there’ll be no mid-life crisis sports car for daddy!). BUT just because we can afford it, does it mean we should?
Luckily, the prodigal son does not (though I have no idea how!) seem to be exhausted by this lot. I do know the moment I felt he was not coping physically he would be out of at least one, if not more of these pursuits. But he loves them, and he’s good at them, and one of them may turn out to be “his thing” so I find it hard to convince myself we should be pulling him back.
So, is that the line? Should we be allowing our kids to do as much as we can manage with the time and financial resources we have as long as they are physically coping and enjoying what they do? It seems vastly over-indulgent to me, but is there really any such thing as 'just being a kid' anymore, and if so what does that look like?
And what if they one thing we don’t let them try, turns out to be “their thing”!?!
One thing is for sure...noone will ever win the parenting Olympics.