With so many activities to do locally with such a broad range how do you know many are too many and which to choose?
Just as many families are doing this September we are looking at our money for the rest of the year, working out if we can afford a holiday or not next year and with our son just starting school we are now also looking at after school activities.
We wrote a list on our direct debits and when you look at it all written down it really makes you realise how much you pay out for things and just how much all our bills have gone up in just the last year alone. Not that my wages have hey!
I know we aren’t alone and as many families struggle to make ends meet I find myself in a dilemma. It’s a first world problem but never the less, one that I’m struggling with because I feel like I’m also under a moral responsibility to do the right thing for the right reasons.
So, here’s the thing. We have two children, Olivia is 8 and getting to the age where she’s realising where her strengths lie and what she’s really interested in. For Olivia it’s really anything relating to music and dance and performance. Currently she goes to a gymnastics class after school on a Friday she does flute during school and then Saturdays she does an hour long dance class comprising of ballet and tap. All great and I feel like we have an ok balance. Except Olivia doesn’t, she has been asking since she turned 7 if she can join Brownies and is also now asking if she can do an acting or singing class. From a selfish point of view I really don’t fancy the thought of ferrying her around on another two days of the week to different clubs and shelling out for more uniforms etc but of course it’s not just about me, so I thought I would have a look at the finances, looking at what she already does and what she would also like to do. The figures really shocked me!
Not forgetting we also have a four year old son who currently does a football class on a Saturday morning and has also done swimming lessons too (though not currently) and has shown an interest in karate or similar.
I can’t be the only one wondering what the right balance is between affording all these clubs and activities and giving our children the best opportunities and a chance to explore different things yet trying to fit in homework and the tiredness factor. It feels like a constant battle between the two ends of the scale.
Here’s what it looks like on paper
Flute, gymnastics and dance yearly cost £615
Add to that cost of examinations, uniforms equipment etc £200
Yearly cost £815.00
Drama class and brownies will cost an additional average £420 a year plus uniform and extras (not taking into account travel).
It’s easy to see that you can easily pay out over £1000 per child on regular clubs a year plus childcare and holiday clubs if needed. Is that a lot? I guess it depends on your income and how many children you have. To me it’s a lot and so now we are stuck with a tricky situation, Olivia loves the activities she does currently and doesn’t want to give them up. She can’t take a break as there are waiting lists for both so if she changed her mind it would be difficult to slot back in. I don’t want to dampen her enthusiasm for trying new things either, nor her talent in those areas.
Is there a simple answer I’m missing? How much do your children do and do you think you have the right balance? Can you afford it all or do you make it a priority anyway? What do you think is a reasonable amount to spend and are there non-negotiables you would shell out for such as tuition or swimming?
I would love to hear your opinions and ideas on how you make it work for your family. You can comment below or drop us a line by email here .
ps if you are a reader like me you might find this study by The Maths Doctor which took place in 2014 quite interesting, if you bare in mind these figures will have risen significantly in the three years since the report was published you’ll see what i mean.
“With a commitment to improvement, parents could be required to invest almost £1,200 per year per academic subject in private tuition fees -meaning that parents could be spending more than £3,000 per year, per child on private tuition and after-school activities.
The results of this study demonstrate that where parents do spend on discretionary after-school activities for their children, the outlay can be significant. With private tuition becoming more commonplace in what is becoming an increasingly competitive education system, parents could be spending in excess of £3,000 per child each year, with many spending much more. This spending on private tuition and after-school activities is turning into an entry level cost for parents in the capital looking to give their children diverse and the best opportunities in life. The study shows that whilst parents across the country are equally likely to spend on their children, the earning capacity of parents living in certain areas of London needs to be significantly higher to cater not only for the cost of living, but also for the “cost of parenting”.