There were no extracurricular activities because of Covid and everything was restricted, but now there is a lot going on!
It’s hard not to go a bit overboard signing the kids up for clubs and activities because suddenly there seem to be so many opportunities and none of us want our kids to miss out!
After school activities offer anything from tennis to football, drama to swimming and trampolining to cubs – and everything in between! Years ago there were really very few after school activities – perhaps swimming, football and brownies or cubs. Nowadays there are many, many more opportunities for different sports and activities after school. It’s great to keep our kids active and learning new skills – especially as they are in school during the day and need to burn off energy!
However, it can take quite a lot of careful planning and time management to fit in the activities, especially if you have several children – not to mention the cost! Before you know if you are exhausted from shuttling the kids around from one activity to the next and trying, like a magician, to be in several places at the same time!
Then there has to be time to fit in dinner and any homework. It can become a bit of a treadmill and quite stressful managing everything!
It can feel like there is a lot of pressure to keep the kids going with a really busy after school schedule of organised activities and it feels almost like a competition with other parents to be doing the most after school!
People who take their kids to lots of activities are often perceived as ‘good’ parents and those who do less can feel inadequate. But all these clubs can put a big strain on family life, relationships and the expense can become a drain too!
Does your child often seem tired or are they struggling with homework? Are they looking forward to the after school activities or are they complaining? How is school going? All of these are good indicators of how your child is dealing with their schedule.
It is important to remember that some kids can manage more than others in the way of clubs outside school. Some kids might thrive on lots of different activities and might still be filled with energy after a full schedule after school. On the other hand other kids might just be happier with a couple of activities a week or less – and this might be what you are happier to commit to as a parent with a busy schedule too.
Younger children in particular might be tired after a day at school and might just want to chill out and relax after school rather than being rushed from club to club.
What you don’t want is everyone ending up exhausted and frazzled from darting between activities, unable to enjoy them to the full. Plus you really don’t want schoolwork or family time to suffer because kids are too tired! So the challenge is to strike a balance and know when things are getting just that bit too hectic!
It’s a really good idea when you’re thinking of signing your child up for extracurricular activities to write a timetable, noting how long things will take including travelling time. Also note down any time you need to allow for homework and dinner.
Note down usual bedtimes and time for hobbies if your child has them. There needs to be some downtime too!
This should give you a good idea of how much time any after school activities will take up! Once you’ve mapped out the schedule for your child or children you are better equipped to decide whether you can all manage it all or not! Don’t feel bad if you think it’s too much, either for you or your child – you have to be realistic rather than feeling swamped and overloaded further down the line!
After school activities are there to be enjoyed – it’s easy to forget this with all the pressures to keep improving at things! Enjoyment is the main thing! It’s perfectly ok not to enjoy competitive sports. It’s fine to just do one club a week. Every child and every family will have different needs – it’s not a race and pushing to do more than you can all manage is really counterproductive!
Once you’ve all made choices of after school activities there’s no shame in changing your mind if you feel it’s getting too much, for instance once the clocks change and the nights draw in – and there is colder weather to deal with!
After school activities are really great but so is downtime! Sometimes kids like having time to just play in the park or dig around in the garden. They don’t always need to be achieving – kids also learn and develop through having unplanned time and finding ways to amuse themselves – look at books, play with a ball or go for a walk with the dog!
It’s all about finding a balance – and drawing up a timetable will help you see how this can be achieved.
Remember also that your child doesn’t have to be at organised activities to learn or have fun. Going swimming with your kids or running with them in the park, doing some art with them – these are all fantastic things to do and you can all be involved! They don’t always need professional instruction!
If you and the kids want some chill out time at home you could try Cosmic Kids’ yoga!
Don’t forget our Personalised Bottle Bands are perfect for labelling the kids’ water bottles for any activities – or just for taking to the park or school!