After School Activities: 3 top tips for a busy mum or dad on how you choose the activities to keep and the ones to drop?

Jane 1

Family time and relaxation is as precious as learning and developing. The ‘time-out’ is equally as crucial to a child’s development but with so many opportunities out there for after school activities how do you strike the balance and decide what to continue with and what to drop?

“Quitting” is an awful word there is nothing worse than hearing “she’s quit” or “he’s quit!”  However we also understand that at different stages of a child’s life they need to reassess their commitments as there is so much to choose from to fill your child’s time and as a child develops and their ability increases in one particular area the commitment to that activity needs to increase.

Swimming is a prime example. Every child needs to swim as it is a fundamental life skill but as your child progresses it can lead to training early mornings, evenings and weekends. At what point as the parent do you put the brakes on and reassess? It may be that you want to streamline their activities and look for one or two that enhance all areas of their lives. It may be that you need to look for ways of helping them conquer presentation skills or nerves or the ability to sell themselves in a part time job interview? Maybe it is at the point where you need to decide which one to drop and which ones to keep that you need to look at what they offer your child over and above the most important point of their enjoyment! Fun is key to any activity that any of us do at any age. When a child is having fun and feels happy they will develop.

This is not an easy exercise but really considering the benefits of each activity is a good starting point. You primarily want your child to be happy and enjoying what they are doing so:

1) Eradicate the ones that they are not enjoying first and foremost however much you want them to do it!

2) Look at the activities that are going to have exponential benefits. Drama is a prime example. The benefit of drama upon all other academic subjects, emotionally, personally, mentally and physically are enormous. As a parent you can no longer rely on its delivery, with the cuts to the arts, within a school setting and therefore enhancing your child’s life by having it as an extra curricular activity will ensure that you and your child reap the rewards. Look at all of it’s benefits!

3) Then look at your time. Which ones work with your hectic schedule and that of your child’s? As they grow up the workload and commitment from school increases and it is so important that you are monitoring what they can cope with too. Look for the activities that take up the least amount of time but hold the most benefits!

Look for those that fit well into the week as a working parent or family. Remembering that there also has to be quality family time and relaxation. Activities at the weekends often end up being missed because of children’s parties and weekends away visiting friends. So again choose the activities that will be best attended because the consistency will also aid the end result for your child. Missing lots of gymnastics lessons on a Saturday due to children’s parties is not going to be helpful for your child’s development and you are going to feel torn and more stressed because naturally your child will prefer to attend their best friend’s cinema party or football party in preference to attending their lesson/class.  You will certainly feel better not paying for something that they cannot consistently attend for 39 weeks of the year.

It is very tricky as we all want the best for our children and we want to give them every opportunity in life but there is only so much that they can do.

We only have so many minutes in a day and what we do with those 1440 minutes really count both as a parent and a child! I was discussing this very point with a young boy who was trialling one of our lessons at Little Voices last night.  I said to him, “you can be whatever you want to be but it all hinges on how you choose to spend your time.” His parent/guardian looked at me and totally agreed. She was so impressed and said “Little Voices is exactly what he needs at the moment and I can see that your lessons are so much more than just training in drama and singing.”

I could see that on the young boys face he had really absorbed what I had said. As we know our teachers can have a profound effect on the next generation and it is part of the life skills and guidance that after school activities should seek to achieve, in my opinion.

When I founded Little Voices (inspirational education for the next generation training children to the highest standard in drama and singing) I did not want it to be seen as just another drama club or music lesson. The groups are so small so that we can have a really positive and profound effect on a child’s education as a whole. As we know the word education comes from the Latin ‘educare’ meaning to draw out. We aim to draw out the potential in every child so that the can achieve to a really high level in life and/or on the stage.

After school activities need to be fun primarily but fundamentally they need to have a multiple function for the next generation. The time of a parent is so precious these days as we are running around as career women and men, mothers, fathers, partners, housekeepers and all in the most glamorous fashion too! The way to get the best results is to use our time effectively and that means using it smartly! Every element of our time and every ounce of our children’s time needs to be balanced effectively. Let’s face it we all want the best for our children. We all want them to be successful and happy.

Every single person in the world has one common denominator – TIME. The same amount of it and it is ticking away at the same rate for us all. Our success and our happiness is a result of what we do with our time!

So perhaps this week is the time to find an activity that serves a multitude of functions in yours and your child’s life? It will help with the chaos of being a busy mum or dad.

You can always ring Little Voices Head Office and we will put you in touch with your nearest Principal so that you can really have a good chat about your child and what they need. It might be that Little Voices is not what you are looking for and we are not right for your child but we will always be honest and every child can apply for a free trial lesson and experience Little Voices for themselves. We are always honest and give our professional feedback to help you in your quest to find the right after school activity for your child.