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Children’s Activities

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First I want to wish any Christians a Happy Easter and any Jews a Happy Passover! I’ve always tried to be open-minded about different religious beliefs and although my family is Christian, our girls attend the Jewish Community Center for preschool and when they are old enough I hope to teach them about many of the world’s different religions. That issue aside, I do want to acknowledge these two religious holidays that have been prominent in the past couple days (and, of course, Passover continues throughout this week as well).

The real reason I bring up these holidays is because this is the first year that we did our own Easter celebration at our house for the girls. Last year was the first time it was really celebrated, but we had gone to a community egg hunt (same one that I wrote about this year), and we didn’t do any celebrations at home because we figured the girls were still a little too young to really “get” it.

But they’re growing so fast, learning so much, and are really starting to enjoy and appreciate these types of traditions.

So in addition to attending the neighborhood egg hunt, we had our own mini version at home. We had baskets with eggs and candy (the baskets and eggs were saved from last year, so I just had to buy some new candy and we didn’t give them much – it was more about finding eggs than eating candy), dyed easter eggs (with homemade dye using food coloring; much cheaper than the kits they sell since I already had the food coloring on hand), and a big ham dinner. All-in-all, the holiday was still pretty cheap since we didn’t go overboard with lots of gifts inside the baskets and/or excessive amounts of candy.

But even so, the holiday has given me pause as I think about the coming months (and years, even). To this point, our girls have never been enrolled in any type of recurring activity. I had lots of mom friends that went regularly to MyGym when they had babies, whose same-aged children now go to ballet, gymnastics, or soccer, and basically everyone I know has enrolled their kids in swim lessons (seriously every summer since infancy).

Us? Crickets over here. We’ve done nothing.

And, in the past, I’ve been totally okay with it! We have many years ahead of us to do these types of activities. To a large extent I still feel like it would be money wasted since the girls are still a bit young to really get a whole lot out of dance or gymnastics. I realize the importance of exposing them to different things, but I guess I just don’t feel a huge urgency in it just yet since we’re so focused on debt-reduction.

But I say that in one breath and in the very next I realize just how much they’re developing in all aspects lately (socially, physically, cognitively, with motor skills, etc. etc. etc.) It makes me wonder….is our cheapness hurting them by keeping them from these different types of experiences?

Still, I think no. They’ll be three this summer. I think we can wait one more year until we really start introducing different sports/activities to them. Four seems like a perfectly sound age. That is….for all extra-curricular activities. But one activity feels different to me:  swimming.

Sure, swimming is an extra-curricular. No doubt about it. But we also have access to a FREE swimming pool this summer. I rarely used it last year because I was scared to go by myself with both kids (since hubs generally works during the day), but wouldn’t it be great if I could take the kids without being fearful? If they knew some basic water safety skills and could be safe around water?

I know kids their age don’t learn how to swim a perfect freestyle, breast, and butterfly, but they learn water safety skills like not running, not jumping in until an adult is present, how to hold their breath under water, and how to safely grab the side of the pool when they jump in. They learn the basics of swimming.

But then there’s the conundrum. Swim lessons are expensive. Expensive times two (since we have twins). Is it worth it?

What do you think?

Should I try to enroll the girls in swim lessons? Should I give it another year? Should I try to teach them myself (for free….though it could be difficult since I’m outnumbered 2-to-1). I’ve done a little research on price (not quality; I still need to ask around regarding quality), but on the very cheapest end I can find swim lessons for $15/each per 30-minute session. Though the range is up through about $40/each per 30-minute session. The number of classes per week and sessions in the class vary from place to place. But no matter how you look at it, it’s a lot more money spent essentially on “entertainment” than we’re used to (our entertainment budget is typically below $10 per month!)

I’d love to hear some of your opinions on this!

When did you start your children in different activities? How much is reasonable to pay when we’re working on debt reduction? Do you think all activities should be held off for now, or is there a safety-reason why it might we worthwhile to do swim lessons? Do I try to do them myself or go to a professional? How much would you spend?

So many questions! Give me your thoughts!

 

To Fly or Not to Fly

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This is truly just a advice looking post, not something I have firm plans on.

Do you think it’s important to take your kids on their first flight?

My littles have flown before, several times, and while they were young, they don’t fear it.  Now my twins had never left the state before being placed with me, and the idea of flying scares them.  As they get older, they are 16 now, more opportunities present themselves for them to fly.  For instance, with Sea Cadet’s participation in the Navy Sea Cadet program, when he gets to be a junior in high school, they are given the chance to do exchange programs with international bases.  It seems super cool to me and to him, but as a mom, the thought of him scared, for the first time on a plane…well, it just doesn’t sit right with me.

I keep thinking that I need to make the effort to at least take them on a short flight so they know the nuances and culture of the airport.  Again, no plans, just a protective mom’s thoughts as they are reach these independent ages.  And I know flying certainly has financial implications.

So let me know your thoughts on this please.

(Felt I needed to add this subtext to this one.  Because of the twins early life experiences, they are not the “norm” as far as confidence and independence.  So while yes, some of my question is me being over-protective, some of it, is having kids who started having what many American’s would call “normal” experiences very late in their childhood.)