In this post, you’ll hear my family’s reasons for not starting sports or clubs with our young children yet.
MAKE SURE YOU READ THIS: There is no right or wrong answer on your child doing sports, classes, or camps. That’s personal to your family and what works best for you.
But here is what is wrong: It is wrong when families sacrifice time, money, and resources under the guise of “everyone is doing it” or “your kids will fail without them.” That’s what I’m here to address today.
Everyone is not doing them.
Your kids will be fine either way.
For my family, we weighed the options of extracurriculars separate of what many of our friends and neighbors were doing. We made the choice that was best for us. They made the choices best for them.
Best choices in parenting don’t always look the same.
My kids don’t do sport or clubs yet. Here’s why.
I didn’t wake up one morning with a rigid closed heart to athletics or decide that I would pick on classes and clubs. I have nothing against sports, classes, and clubs.
Still, my family ended up on this path and there are a few reasons for that. There’s also reasons why this path that has continued to work for my family for almost nine years.
The reasons are pretty simple, and in some cases, incredibly cut and dry:
1. Financial Impacts of Sports & Classes
Sports, clubs, and classes are incredibly expensive. Between registration fees, equipment, and potential travel expenses, the cost of these programs adds up.
It adds up quickly.
It becomes especially expensive when you multiply those fees by multiple children. Things get exponentially more costly.
When my oldest was a toddler and many friends were beginning to dip their toes into classes or athletics, I started to do the math on sports season and our options. I also knew I had a newborn daughter who would want the same opportunities in the following years… the dollar signs flashed big and bright.
I knew at that time in our lives, this was not something we could afford to provide our children with without making sacrifices in other areas or creating an unnecessary hardship. This was just one of the reasons we chose not to sign up.
2. The Expense of Time
It’s no secret that sports and classes have time requirements. Driving to drop off, the activity, driving to pick up. The cost of time is high, especially with more than one child in a sport or class.
It costs family time, unstructured free time, and each person’s time (even if only one has signed up for the activity).
It didn’t work for me to sacrifice one child’s afternoon of play to wait for another child to do a sport or the time spent in the car taking everyone to their respective drop offs.
RELATED: I’m a strong advocate for children having large, open windows of free play. You can read more about the need for this play in an article by Dr. Peter Gray.
3. Early Childhood is a Short Window
I believe really strongly in the short window we have in early childhood before children begin getting pulled in different directions, particularly once they hit school age. These are the years of total family focus – and I think that’s a good thing.
Of course, someday my kids will live their own lives and do their own things, but for this brief moment in our history, we can exist together, building experiences and memories as a unit.
There is a future full of time apart waiting for my family someday. But for these days, I’m happiest having the three kids all together and experiencing life as a group. Their futures will be full of time with peers, teammates, and colleagues.
But I love this small window where the focus is on us.
4. No One has Shown Any Interest
For my kids, in 9 years, no one has shown any interest in an extracurricular activity. Nothing has peaked their interest and I don’t push them into anything.
I know this will not always be the case.
Someday, I’m sure someone will form a deep interest in something and want to take a class or join a club to learn more. Fantastic – when that happens, we will dive deep to help them satisfy or grow that interest.
Until then… I’m not going to ask them to give up their time to try something they’ve shown no interest in. I wouldn’t like that as an adult so I can’t justify doing it to them.
Again, this is the what and why for my family…
But it’s a very different opinion than the hype of sports and classes we see on social media. I know that.
Like I said before, there is nothing wrong with families who enjoy the sports and clubs lifestyle. What is very wrong is when families are put into a position of joining these sports and clubs because they feel pressure to do so.
There is joy in fast moving Saturday mornings spent on a soccer field.
There is also joy in slow going Saturday morning “pancake mornings.”
The important thing is finding your family’s joy, and running with it.