When your kids are busier than you

Last night Flea had her first proper swimming lesson.

She’s been on the waiting list since we moved here, nearly three years ago, so the lessons were well overdue and I was thrilled to finally get her into a class. Previously, I’ve taught Flea to swim myself using my own, highly dubious professional methods, which is possibly why we had this conversation while waiting for the class to start:

Flea: Mummy, will I have to do diving? 

Me: Probably not in your first class, poppet, maybe just some swimming with floats, and you can do that, can’t you? 

Flea: Yes. And I can also do quite excellent skipping and dancing in water. Will we do that? 

Me: I don’t think so.  

Flea: Oh. Can I show the teacher anyway?

Swimming lessons are just the latest addition to our schedule, it seems.

I don’t know quite how it’s happened, but these days Flea has a busier social schedule than me. I know, it’s not saying much, but still…

I’m not one of those people who thinks kids need lots of improving activities. Honestly, most kids need a bit less improving, and a bit more play, in my book. In fact, for Flea’s first two years of school, I insisted on no activities at all. It was only last year that I let her start guitar lessons.

Flea’s first out-of-school activity came just before Christmas, when she started Beavers – the youngest part of the Cubs. The group is basically Flea and 14 boys, so as you can imagine, she’s in her element. I grew up in a Scouting family, so I’m a big fan of this kind of thing for kids.

Then in January, Flea started attending Stagecoach on weekends, after taking a trial class and loving the whole experience. It seemed like a natural fit. Flea loves words and stories and imagination, but can be shy in groups, and I can see the classes are doing wonders for her confidence. Our duet of Life’s a Happy Song from The Muppets in the school car park yesterday was quite something to behold, for all kinds of reasons.

The next thing was Zumba classes on a Friday, an activity which is held in the school hall. Given that Flea would usually stay for the school’s ‘late room’ on a Friday while I’m working, it seemed silly to say she couldn’t go to Zumba.

This means that Flea now has organised activities three evenings during the week, as well as one weekend morning. Added to this schedule are guitar lessons and ensemble, both of which run during the school day.

It feels like a lot – and I confess, it’s crept up on me a bit. Sometimes I wonder if I’m over-loading Flea and not leaving enough time for play. But on the other hand, she is enjoying all the activities at the moment, and they are giving her experiences she’s not getting at school, and allowing her to meet new people and make new friends.

I’m not sure what to think, to be honest. How many activities do your children do? How much do you think is too much? How do you choose what to do and what to leave?

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