Back to School (and a budget question)

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Labor Day is over – it is back to school time, even for those of us that are not in school. This is our first week where all of Leila’s classes are back in full swing. Last year we had three constants. This year we have six. As anyone that spends their entire day with a 2 ½ year old will know, this is a good thing. I very much appreciate having mornings full of activities to keep us occupied and out of the house.

We’ve got Tyke Hikes at the Houston Arboretum and Persian play dates with Baba Joon on Mondays. Tuesday is Spanish class. Wednesday is now swim class for our squirt. Thursday is Toddler Storytime at the library and some quality time with Grandma. Then it’s Friday, which is always a good time to catch up on errands or make a trip to the Children’s Museum. Afternoons are for rest. As for the mornings, keep them packed please.

For the first two years, we happily took advantage of the most cost-effective (read free/practically free) activities in the city. Now that Leila is older, we’re starting to dip our toes into classes. It is not cheap. Even with just a limited swim and Spanish class, we’ll have spent $1400 by the end of the year. When I think of all of the other options – dance, gymnastics, music, sports, art, etc. – I get overwhelmed with possibility and expense. We haven’t yet officially determined how we’ll budget for this. Right now a membership or two and a class or two seems to be just right. Leila’s still quite young, but I like the idea of keeping to a one or two things at a time limit. It seems manageable.

How do you decide?

6 thoughts on “Back to School (and a budget question)

  1. Jamie

    As the mom to a 4yo, I will draw on my vast experience and share our wisdom. 😉 We let Wynn do dance last year. This year is karate. Wynn is in daycare, so we don’t have the same time considerations as you, but we do think it is important to focus on the tasks we take on. We want to help her find a balance of family time, education, one special activity, and travel, without totally sacrificing the things we want to do as grown ups. Picking one thing to pursue definitely helps manage the budget as well. Everything in moderation, right?

    Good luck and keep us posted. Love knowing that I’m not the only one who is a both thrilled and overwhelmed by the whole parenthood thing!

    Reply
    1. Saba Post author

      “We want to help her find a balance of family time, education, one special activity, and travel, without totally sacrificing the things we want to do as grown ups.” Well said.

      Reply
  2. Kristi

    We’ve been really struggling financially for the past 3 years, so we have only been able to do free things. Like library story time, play dates with friends, playscape at a local church. As musicians, we hope our kids love music, but I don’t know yet what they’ll decide to do. When my 4 year old shows interest from time to time, we will have a music lesson. She really enjoys singing though. We sing a lot. We do a lot of unstructured play, so I am hoping in a few years, her interests will become a little more narrowed down. I think just out of necessity and budget, we will only be able to let them do one thing that they are extremely passionate about. I hope it is music, but I bet our kids will become athletes. Ha!

    Reply
    1. Saba Post author

      I think a big struggle, beyond financial and time considerations, is simply whether it is in Leila’s best interest to pursue something in a structured environment or whether an organic pursuit would be just, if not more, effective. I think that in terms of art, music and sport.

      Reply
  3. Lisa

    I can totally relate! Until now we had only done free things, but there were so many free things we haven’t even tried half of them yet. I chose activities based on value added and whether I thought I could replicate the activity at home. I tried to incorporate art, gymnastics, sign language, preschool enrichment, music, and swim into our at-home activities. This year we are trying a part-time child development class (like an MDO) that is very affordable compared to other programs, and they do art, music, outdoor activities, and preschool concepts. So I feel like it’s a one-stop-shop of kid class offerings plus a little rest for me. Because of that, I don’t think we’ll add any classes this year. We have lots of free stuff to continue to explore outside of school time. Next summer we’ll probably do a real swimming class though because this adventurous boy loves the water and I am anxious for him to have the basics down for safety (oh and fun).

    Reply
    1. Saba Post author

      “I chose activities based on value added and whether I thought I could replicate the activity at home.” Love it! Us too. The big pull for Spanish and swimming was because they are great life skills that we could not adequately teach her. Well, I think we might be able to teach her swimming, but like you we were anxious for Leila to have the basics down as soon as possible for safety’s sake (I’m not even going to pretend like fun was an equal consideration). I feel like it’s so much easier at this age to make those considerations though. At some point in the very near future Leila will outgrow her parents very limited skill set. Maybe we could get ourselves a little extracurricular co-op going? You handle the sewing, I’ll do the tennis, Ben can do the baseball…

      Reply

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