Now that my son is now 4, I'm ripe with ideas of fun extracurriculars I want to sign up for-- both for his sake, but also because I have always loved learning new things. It is really easy to say before having kids, "I won't sign up for every little thing. Protect their free time! Just spend time alone together!" However, once I had kids, a primal instinct emerged-- at least in me-- to provide them with as many rewarding experiences and advantages that I can.
While I won't be able to whisk them off on a private jet to the Great Barrier Reef anytime soon (though Australia-- flying commercial-- is definitely on our family bucket list!), and we won't be enrolling in the fanciest private school in town, I do want to give my children as many opportunities as we can.
But how much is too much? My son falls squarely into the Highly Sensitive category, which in this arena translates to him becoming easily overwhelmed when faced with too much stimulation or when too many new things or people are introduced at once. I am the same way, though as an adult, I know how to protect myself from too much of anything (saying "no" to extra committees, too many social outings, etc.). A 4-year-old has little experience being protective of his own needs; such protection still requires much parental involvement.
As a result, I am trying to find a balance between introducing my son to various pursuits that he has expressed strong interest in-- learning another language, taking up a musical instrument, trying a couple of sports-- and his need to have plenty of downtime. All this on top of another year of preschool starting soon.
Of course, I must also consider this: how much money can and should we throw at every opportunity that comes our way? Surely, my husband and I can impart at least some wisdom free of charge. (And there's always Dora. Just kidding (kind of)).
My current strategy is to sign up for what matters and seems appropriate to him and to us, and then to drop things as necessary in order to respect his personality and our family time.
What about you? At what age did the extracurriculars ramp up in your house? Did you or will you sign up your kids for lessons or sports at a young age? Why or why not?
~ Julia @ Frantic Mama
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I am honored to contribute to: Mamalode and What the Flicka? and two 2015 anthologies focused on parenting and relationships [details to come]!