I’ve always had dreams of having my kids in tons of extracurricular and summer activities.
The whole soccer mom, dance mom, minivan mom, snack mom, room mom, rushing-around-for-my-kids-mom stereotype always sounded so glamorous.
Now, as a mom of two with one on the way, I’ve learned a few things about all of the time, dedication and discipline that it takes to make it all happen — not just from my child, but also from me as a mom.
My four-year-old is in both gymnastics and ballet, and her summer is full of camps and summer activities all over town. My seventeen-month-old is signed up for summer creative dance. The baby in my belly just gets to experience it all in intrauterine sounds, and bitter, black coffee. In movies and TV shows, the do-it-all moms are sometimes mocked. They run to and fro with their hair a mess, just to get their child to the next thing. Just a few weeks ago, my daughter had her first gymnastics meet, thirty minutes after her ballet class ended. It was our first (of many, I’m sure) experiences of rushing from one activity to the next. It was hectic and fun all at the same time, but I can say that the whole ordeal was far more glamorous for the tot than the mom (as it should be).
Making the Most of Summer Activities
If you had told me way back when that I’d be waking up at 6 a.m. on Saturday mornings to get our family showered, dressed, and ready for ballet, I’d have told you … “Nope, Saturdays are for sleeping in.” But those days are gone. My experience is definitely limited — since my oldest is only four — but I’ve put together a few tips to help you and your little ones get the most out of their summer activities.
Plan ahead (and budget) for the things you want your kids to do.
These things are not cheap. Dance is not cheap. Gymnastics is not cheap. Summer camps are not cheap. You’ll want to set aside a specific budget for extracurricular activities and summer camps, and then stick to it! Starting this planning early will surely help down the road and kids and expenses grow, and this one I found out the hard way … Ask about recital fees or end-of-camp performance fees early on so you’re not slapped with sticker shock.
Don’t overstimulate your child.
Last summer, my daughter had just turned three, and her plate was full with a dance program that combined ballet, tap, and gymnastics in Harlingen along with two summer camps at the Children’s Museum. At one point, it all became too much. It wasn’t working for my kid and she was unhappy. The most important thing, in my opinion, is to make sure my child is having fun, and sometimes that means saying “no.”
Early childhood summers should be about play and exploration. If that gets tainted by adults who want tiny robot adults and zero play, it hurts the child more than it helps.
Take a break.
We ended last summer early, took the fall semester off, and focused on play dates. My daughter started at a new dance studio and new gym in the spring (after she begged to go back to gym and dance). That break — and those few months of maturation — helped immensely. It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to let your child have a say in what he or she does or doesn’t want to do.
Let your child try something new.
Summer activities are great opportunities for your child to try something new and to make new friends. And they typically don’t require long-term commitments. There are so many options in the RGV: acting, cheerleading, dancing, gymnastics, karate, legos, modeling, music, singing, soccer, STEM, SUP, surfing, swimming, VBS. Check out our RGV Moms Blog Summer Camp Guide for ideas and information!
Network with the other moms.
I learned so much from a fellow mom whose daughter participated in some of the same activities that mine did. She is experienced in the dance world, whereas I am not. It helps to have someone to whom you can ask questions, and not feel so isolated as a new mom at the activities.
Have fun with your child!!
The more excited you are, the more excited your young kiddo will be. My daughter is looking forward to her jam-packed summer. Even with everything we have on the calendar, she’s been begging my husband and I to add a Zoo camp!