Author Topic: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children  (Read 2593 times)

MrSeven

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I have 4 children (ages 8,12,14,18) and looked at my spending over the past 4 years. On average I am spending about $2000 per child yearly on activities, or about $167 per month per child. Each of my kids is usually doing a sport as well as music lessons at any given time. Our philosophy is as soon as the kids don't want to do something we certainly don't force it. We only pay for activities that they ask for, practice regularly, and enjoy. This number includes summer camps, school trips, school extra fees as well. Music lessons alone cost me ~$100 per month per kid. Add in a sport, along with summer camps and it adds up.

Question for the group: How much do you average per year on activities for your kids?

I grew up in a large family and was not able to afford music lessons, sports, and summer camps. I debate whether or not all this is worth the money as $2000 a year per child saved up over 12 years is quite a bit in the savings account (assuming nothing much starts before 6 years old). I would be interested on what others think is worth the investment as well (both money and time driving and attending the activities).






mm1970

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2018, 12:40:21 PM »
$2500-$3000 per kid.
Mostly summer camp.

Because we work full time, summer camp is necessary.
Kids are 5 and 12

This does not include after school care.
One sport per kid.
Music lessons for one.

FireHiker

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2018, 02:35:02 PM »
Last year was $4017 total for three kids ($111/mo average per kid), $3112 the year before ($86/mo average per kid). It's very "lumpy" spending though; for instance I'll be paying $340 next month to register two of them for fall soccer (with the earliest early bird pricing). I include any sports or activities, related equipment, coach gifts, food when it's our turn for snack, any team pictures we purchase, etc. When my oldest had a rugby tournament with travel I included the travel expenses in "kid activities" as opposed to general "travel." This total includes the following:
 son age 17: football (but not this past year), rugby, track and field
son age 8: rec soccer, soccer all stars tournament, basketball, some karate last year
daughter age 6: rec soccer, girl scouts, some gymnastics last year

My 8 year old will probably get recruited for club soccer after the next fall rec season; he has been the best in rec now for two seasons and we put it off last year. He REALLY wants to do it but we've made him wait a year. That will probably add $1500-$2000 alone per year, based on our experience with the oldest. If he wants to play in high school though it's the only way to stay competitive, unfortunately.

We have the same philosophy that you do, @MrSeven : as soon as a kid doesn't absolutely love what they're doing, it goes. We've had that happen with football, baseball, basketball (oldest, though he may play football again as a high school senior next year), karate and basketball (middle), and gymnastics and dance (youngest, although she's been asking to do gymnastics again but ugh, SO expensive here).

TVRodriguez

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2018, 03:36:13 PM »
We have 3 kids, ages 7, 9, and 11.  Summer camp runs ~$5,000 for 9 weeks for all three kids (sibling discount applied).  Aftercare during the school year is another ~$4,000.  Our two boys dislike organized activities, including sports, and will have none of it.  Our daughter enjoys weekly sign language classes, and the sign language is around $250/semester, so $500/year.  There must be other stuff, but I'd have to consult my spreadsheets.  I know that we usually spend around $14-15,000 each year under the general category "KIDS," but that includes all of the above plus any babysitters, school field trips and other paid school events (just paid $100 for 4 tickets to my fifth grader's "promotion ceremony"), contributions for school fund-raising (with an annual contribution of $1,500/year that goes towards funding assistant classroom teachers), teacher gifts for birthdays and holidays, kids' clothes, shoes, toys, and anything else specifically for the kids.

We're clearly the spendiest on this thread, but we're definitely not the spendiest where we live.

MayDay

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2018, 03:36:57 PM »
I don't have an exact number, but about 50$ a month for each kid for activities.

I am not counting summer camp because we use it as childcare. If I did count the number would probably triple. Haha thought about vthat again. Way more than triple. They are doing sleepeaway camp to the tune of 2k this summer,plus all the day camps.

Next year my oldest will start band, and that will increase costs. I expect they will increase in general as kids get older. Luckily my kids are not in sports so scouts is pretty cheap! Music I know can get expensive. My youngest loves yoga which is expensive.

Mine are 8 and 10.

« Last Edit: May 30, 2018, 03:38:41 PM by MayDay »

fuzzy math

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2018, 04:06:21 PM »
Currently about $40 per month per kid (11, 8, 6). That includes a summer swimming pass, season Tix to six flags, rec t ball, girl/Cub scouts, school band (largely free) and the occasional admission to whatever. We have tried music lessons when our 11 yr old was younger, it was a hassle. Same with martial arts lessons. Rec league classes are about all they can stick with. The 8 yr old has visions of gymnastics and violin but we all struggle and get resentful with too many scheduled events. I am happy waiting for the younger ones to grow into school orchestra or band.

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SimpleCycle

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2018, 04:44:01 PM »
I don't think of activities and summer camp as the same category, because for many summer camp is childcare.

I am not sure what we'll do as the kids get older.  Right now we do one $20-$30 activity per quarter for the almost 3 year old.  That is for a tot and parent type activity - swimming, gymnastics, yoga.

Three Wolf Moon

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2018, 06:04:10 PM »
Two kids, 13 and 15.  $2600 total, about half of that was for summer camp for the two of them and the rest was various school fees (including school sports) and other small activity fees.

kanga1622

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2018, 07:36:49 PM »
Right now, very little. Our oldest will do swimming lessons for $15 this year. We do lots of free activities through the public library. The oldest is also not a sports kid. Our youngest is just reaching School age. We may try out t-ball with him next year as he seems to be a bit more athletic than the oldest.

Our biggest expenses are the summer pool passes ($30 per person) and the zoo membership. The zoo is a couple hours away but the family membership is cheaper than 3 individual day passes at the zoo and we can easily go 3 times during a summer.

We have decided not to do any summer camps for the kids. The oldest would be interested in a STEM camp they have here but it is about $300 for a week when we would otherwise not need to pay any “daycare” costs. Plus it runs 9-3 so means he has to miss all his usually scheduled activities through the library programs.

gooki

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2018, 01:26:43 AM »
$250 per kid per year at the moment.

elliha

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2018, 03:43:30 AM »
I think many activities are cheaper here in Sweden but I don't pay much yet. My daughter is 6 and did jujitsu for half of last year and that cost a little over 100 dollars. We did not need to buy the clothes at first and as we parents felt the club was organized very well we decided to pause it but we were prepared to keep paying for it otherwise. Now my daughter wants to do soccer or floorball and I don't know what that costs but I know they are not very expensive for younger kids so we will go ahead with that this autumn I think. Summer camps are not used as child care really here so they are more a fun activity. I still think she is a bit too young to fully appreciate it but next year it might be something we look into. I think she might like football or athletics camp but we might go for a cheaper option the first year and go for a camp with mixed activities but that will be decided next winter or so. My son is 2 and will not do any activities until at the earliest 4 or 5. Music is taught at school and I frankly don't think I can afford private lessons too so that will have to be it for my children. Our church has free choir practice and my daughter has done that last year and wants to continue and I will let her do that and my son might also start to take part in the group for the youngest children but at the moment he is all running and no sitting still so I might not be able to get him to sit still long enough already by next autumn when the new group starts.

KBecks

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2018, 04:22:26 AM »
My youngest plays hockey, don't even ask!  I am trying to find other affordable activities to fill in. 

ontheway2

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2018, 07:07:41 AM »
Two kids age 5 and 12 last year

Summer camp was 535 for the oldest (one week overnight and one week day), the youngest was in daycare last summer

Random day camps/kids night outs were around $150

I spent $300 for the year for activities for them which includes tball fee, cleats, and ball pics for the youngest and USA boxing registration fee for the oldest along with some boxing gear as it was his first competitive year.

The oldest had a large field trip that had a final payment of $200 due last year


This year, the oldest has $600 in camp fees and the youngest about $800

The little one has ball fees that increased from 60-125 due to going from YMCA ball to city ball

The oldest has an expensive field trip next year (~2k) that we have to start paying this year

We don't do activities that have monthly fees really.  Wee tried a karate a few years ago before the oldest started boxing, but it was just $35/month.  We budget around $125/month for care and something like $30/month each for activities and related costs. School expenses are on top of that and vary

« Last Edit: May 31, 2018, 07:13:32 AM by ontheway2 »

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2018, 08:53:10 AM »
We're struggling with this.  Once my oldest hit 6th grade last year, the costs skyrocketed.

For her alone, we spend $110/mo in music lessons + band supplies.  The school requires private lessons if you have a (free) school-owned instrument (which she does). 

This year she's done rec-league volleyball.  I've spent $2k on the mini-club seasons + group lessons + summer volleyball camp.  She wants to do full club volleyball for the next school year, which is a minimum $3k....plus any additional vb camps.  If we don't let her do it, she will not be good enough to play in high school.  It seems so young to have to make that decision.

We had been spending only about $150/year on the 10-year-old's activities, but she is over soccer and wants tennis lessons.  I haven't priced that out yet.

I enrolled 8-year-old in an after-school program at his karate studio, so he gets lessons and day care all rolled into one low price :)  Other than that, we spend $70/year on Cub Scouts for him.

slappy

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2018, 11:43:46 AM »
My son is only four so this is not really a good example, I guess. We haven't paid for any activities yet. We did sign him up for a half day camp this summer, just to break up the summer. It was a $135. Other than that, my husband is a SAHD, so we don't need any childcare type camps, and we just haven't found anything yet that interests him more than exploring our backyard. We do participate in library activities for him and he enjoys that, but its free. We may try some swim lessons this summer.

ABC123

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2018, 11:55:18 AM »
My kids are 9, 7, and 1.  The toddler is not in any activities and won't be for a long time.

The 9 year plays soccer at the Y, $70 x 2 seasons per year; and he plays Upward basketball at church, I think it's around $80 for the season.

My 7 year old is on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum.  We have tried him in team sports and they just weren't his thing.  We are currently doing ABA therapy for him, twice a week after school.  It ain't cheap, but I'm hoping it will really help him with some of his issues.  He has been doing it for 6 months now, ends up being about $1000 per month. 
 
The older two also do swimming lessons once a year or so, $40 each.

FireHiker

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2018, 12:22:40 PM »
My youngest plays hockey, don't even ask!  I am trying to find other affordable activities to fill in.

My condolences; my co-worker's son plays hockey and he's really good so he's on a team that travels a lot. It is $$$$$. I'm so glad none of my kids have expressed an interest in hockey!

elliha

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2018, 01:39:18 PM »
My youngest plays hockey, don't even ask!  I am trying to find other affordable activities to fill in.

My condolences; my co-worker's son plays hockey and he's really good so he's on a team that travels a lot. It is $$$$$. I'm so glad none of my kids have expressed an interest in hockey!

I read about a Swedish family with two kids playing hockey who used one parent's whole salary just on hockey and it was a normal lower middle class salary. They were doing some things that were expensive even for a hockey family like extra practice and such but still that is sick!

charis

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2018, 02:25:53 PM »
This is the first year that activities have been expensive because my 8 year old started the formal dance study at her studio (2k+/year) and started playing an instrument (700/year for private weekly lessons).  The younger one has only had relatively inexpensive swim lessons ($45/8 weeks), but it adds up if both kids do it in the winter and spring.  But this summer they will play an outdoor sport one night a week.  Also each kid had one 2-hr ski lesson this winter, which was pricey! (200 total).  All in about $3300.

This is not including daycare and day camp.  It seems like a lot written out, but we aren't nearly as busy as most families I know, who typically run to activities most nights of the week.

ABC123

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2018, 02:32:24 PM »
My youngest plays hockey, don't even ask!  I am trying to find other affordable activities to fill in.

My condolences; my co-worker's son plays hockey and he's really good so he's on a team that travels a lot. It is $$$$$. I'm so glad none of my kids have expressed an interest in hockey!

I read about a Swedish family with two kids playing hockey who used one parent's whole salary just on hockey and it was a normal lower middle class salary. They were doing some things that were expensive even for a hockey family like extra practice and such but still that is sick!

I admit, there have been times that I was secretly glad that my kids are not superstar athletes.  Paying for the fees, gear, travel etc. that goes along with being on a high level team gets crazy expensive.

fuzzy math

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2018, 05:14:26 PM »


This is not including daycare and day camp.  It seems like a lot written out, but we aren't nearly as busy as most families I know, who typically run to activities most nights of the week.

My neighbors have quadruplet teenagers and they are NEVER home. I get stressed out for them thinking of how busy they are. Each kid does something different

elliha

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #21 on: June 01, 2018, 12:50:16 AM »
My youngest plays hockey, don't even ask!  I am trying to find other affordable activities to fill in.

My condolences; my co-worker's son plays hockey and he's really good so he's on a team that travels a lot. It is $$$$$. I'm so glad none of my kids have expressed an interest in hockey!

I read about a Swedish family with two kids playing hockey who used one parent's whole salary just on hockey and it was a normal lower middle class salary. They were doing some things that were expensive even for a hockey family like extra practice and such but still that is sick!

I admit, there have been times that I was secretly glad that my kids are not superstar athletes.  Paying for the fees, gear, travel etc. that goes along with being on a high level team gets crazy expensive.

I don't want my kids to be top athletes. I love for them to find a sport that is fun and meaningful to them. I love for them to get regular exercise and interaction with other kids than just their classmates. I think there is a lot of good in doing sports but want them to keep doing their sport until they are in their late teens and then either play for fun or start going to the gym or something.

Hula Hoop

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #22 on: June 01, 2018, 02:52:43 AM »
Both my kids do roller skating which is Euro 30 each a month.
Both kids do scouts which is 50 euros at the start of the year plus 10 euros a month.  Scout camping for a week will also cost Euro 50.
The almost 10 year old just start piano lessons which cost Euro 50 a month.

I don't count summer camp as that is child care for us as we both work.  It's pretty cheap though - last year it was 90 euros for both kids per week.  Lunch cost extra (5 euros a day) or they could bring a packed lunch.

nessness

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #23 on: June 01, 2018, 09:05:12 AM »
Very little at this point, but mine are 1 and 3.5 and in daycare. I just signed the older one up for a 2-week session of swimming lessons, which is $57 for 8 lessons. We might do a couple more sessions if the first one goes okay, and I've also considered doing some sports lessons through the city this summer, which are $30 for 4 weeks, and they try a different sport each week.

I spent about $80 on a membership to the children's museum and we go there pretty often. My mom got us a family membership to the train museum but we've only been a couple times as it's a 30-minute drive and costs $10 to park. Otherwise our main activities are parks and the library.

elliha

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #24 on: June 02, 2018, 02:28:09 AM »
Well, it seems that soccer will probably have to wait a year. All the good clubs seem to have 7 years old as their starting age. What remains are overpriced "football fun" type activities which you pay double for and that most parents I know say are not worth the money. The leaders are not very well organized and not very good at little kids and it is mostly just a lot of running. Running is fine but my kids can do that for free, we even have several balls if we want to add that. Some of these groups have activities for younger kids too which might have made me more interested because both kids could do something at the same time but the little one is too small and when he is old enough big sister will be old enough for regular soccer... I will try to suggest jujitsu again but a new club I think.

Hula Hoop

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #25 on: June 03, 2018, 01:17:24 AM »
I find that kid activities are my "gazingus pins'.  My older daughter is passionate about basketball.  She didn't do it last year as she didn't like the coach but now she wants to do a week of basketball camp later this month, which costs Euro 100 for a week.  This is not too bad but the kids regular summer camp only costs Euro 90 for both kids per week (if the kids bring lunch each day).  I consider the 90 euro a week to be just the cost of childcare but something more expensive like basketball camp is an extra 'kid activity' expense. 

I guess that I feel that, within reason, things like sports and music and sleep away camps are really good for kids to explore their passions and skills and also gain independence.  OTOH those costs can really add up.  Our rule is that the kids get to do scouts, one sport and possibly music.  But that is quite a lot of activities.  At least scouts are cheap.

MayDay

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #26 on: June 03, 2018, 05:32:55 AM »
Yes, the summer stuff doesget expensive. We made the decision to do few more expensive summer things this year (sleepaway camp, a nanny, an autism camp for my son). I am still mentally counting it as childcare, but really I should allocate some to therapy, some to child activities,and some to childcare.

At 8 and 10 the end is in sight for before school care! Hallelujah that is 100$ a week we will save in one more year I think. When DD is in 4th grade I think I will leave her to get onthe bus alone. But we will keep having summer expenses because I won't let preteen/teens alone for 12 weeks!

mxt0133

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #27 on: June 04, 2018, 03:02:17 PM »
We spend around $2000-$2500 and will go up as my youngest gets older and meets the age minimum.  We do one activity per child for about three months and take a break so they are in activities for 6-7 months out of the entire year.  My two oldest do about two camps a year.  I have deliberately not introduced them to activities that would cost a lot, like hockey or skiing because I will not be paying for hundreds of dollars in equipment that will only last for a season or two.

Now if they ask and are really persistent on doing an activity that is expensive it will depend mostly on how much they are willing to pitch in.

charis

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #28 on: June 04, 2018, 07:06:48 PM »
We spend around $2000-$2500 and will go up as my youngest gets older and meets the age minimum.  We do one activity per child for about three months and take a break so they are in activities for 6-7 months out of the entire year.  My two oldest do about two camps a year.  I have deliberately not introduced them to activities that would cost a lot, like hockey or skiing because I will not be paying for hundreds of dollars in equipment that will only last for a season or two.

Now if they ask and are really persistent on doing an activity that is expensive it will depend mostly on how much they are willing to pitch in.

I don't know about hockey, but in my experience you can pick up used children's ski equipment on craigslist pretty cheaply. And rentals are often included with lessons for young kids.  And lift tickets are often free under 7 or 8. So you can do it cheaply up to a point.

Hula Hoop

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #29 on: June 04, 2018, 08:26:12 PM »
I just had a little heart to heart with my older daughter and she wants to continue piano next year.  Oh well.  The most mustachian lessons I could find were 50 euros a month so I guess it's not that bad.

charis

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #30 on: June 05, 2018, 06:51:40 AM »
I just had a little heart to heart with my older daughter and she wants to continue piano next year.  Oh well.  The most mustachian lessons I could find were 50 euros a month so I guess it's not that bad.

That's good - we pay $20 usd per weekly lesson and it's the cheapest I could find.

Hula Hoop

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #31 on: June 05, 2018, 10:47:35 AM »
I just had a little heart to heart with my older daughter and she wants to continue piano next year.  Oh well.  The most mustachian lessons I could find were 50 euros a month so I guess it's not that bad.

That's good - we pay $20 usd per weekly lesson and it's the cheapest I could find.

The lessons are only half an hour once a week but with a (very good) private teacher.  It's organized through the kids' school.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #32 on: June 06, 2018, 06:23:39 PM »
We have two boys, 11 & 12. They both play club soccer & my oldest did track & cross country through the school this year. School sports are cheap ($100 + a $10 tshirt). Love school sports. Unfortunately, there are 1500 kids in his middle school, and they have a combined 6/7 soccer team for boys & took two 6th graders on the team. So, school sports are largely out of reach for even the top club players. Anyway, all that to say that I'd be fine with school sports, but they are super competitive in our area. Club soccer is about $2500/kid per year.

I'm leaving out summer camp, as that is our form of child care - it's not an optional expense. In a few years, we will likely enroll them in a few camps here & there for fun or activities, but they aren't old enough to be on their own for 10 hours a day yet.


$andra

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #33 on: June 08, 2018, 08:12:44 AM »
Both my husband and I were college athletes, so this was a topic of worry. But decided we aren't going to run ourselves ragged with the travel sports, camps, private coaches etc. it might take to get a child in at that level in the 2020s. Neither of us got sports scholarships, anyway.

We do 4H, which is extremely affordable because it's a state-funded extension program. Right now we pay $25 per YEAR. They have cheap camps, too.

Our kids have also done lots of (non-travel) soccer and flag football, which are relatively cheap at $125/season/child. But that's more like $225/season/child when you add in coaches gifts, bringing snacks and drinks, end-of-the-year pizza party, trophies, buying the cleats and shinguards and balls.

No private instrument lessons here. I hated them as a child, and our kids haven't been interested. The public school offers band or orchestra w/some instruction beginning in 4th grade, and you can rent the instrument for $10/month from the school.

We also do a TON of free activities at the library and parks, local festivals, outdoor movies, free museum admission days, etc. We have a free National Parks Pass because my husband is physically disabled (unrelated to his college athlete days! :-).

I put together an extensive plan for "Mommy Camp" every summer that includes workbooks, the library reading program, science and art projects, a weekly museum or cultural field trip, playdates, and a summer "bucket list" the kids help create.  They also do a week at "Camp Grandma," a week of VBS, and a week at the beach.

Even living in The South, we don't have a pool membership (our neighborhood pool costs $1000 to join plus $425 annual dues so $1425 the first year!)  Enough friends and neighbors do that we get invited to a pool about once a week, and we have several county-funded waterparks that we could visit dozens of times for the cost of a pool memberships.

We have done some one-off sailing, skiing, and rock-climbing "schools" just so the kids know how to enjoy those activities at a basic level. And swimming lessons (basic life skill).

acroy

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #34 on: June 08, 2018, 08:37:18 AM »
Both my husband and I were college athletes, so this was a topic of worry. But decided we aren't going to run ourselves ragged with the travel sports, camps, private coaches etc. it might take to get a child in at that level in the 2020s. Neither of us got sports scholarships, anyway.

We do 4H, which is extremely affordable because it's a state-funded extension program. Right now we pay $25 per YEAR. They have cheap camps, too.

Our kids have also done lots of (non-travel) soccer and flag football, which are relatively cheap at $125/season/child. But that's more like $225/season/child when you add in coaches gifts, bringing snacks and drinks, end-of-the-year pizza party, trophies, buying the cleats and shinguards and balls.

No private instrument lessons here. I hated them as a child, and our kids haven't been interested. The public school offers band or orchestra w/some instruction beginning in 4th grade, and you can rent the instrument for $10/month from the school.

We also do a TON of free activities at the library and parks, local festivals, outdoor movies, free museum admission days, etc. We have a free National Parks Pass because my husband is physically disabled (unrelated to his college athlete days! :-).

I put together an extensive plan for "Mommy Camp" every summer that includes workbooks, the library reading program, science and art projects, a weekly museum or cultural field trip, playdates, and a summer "bucket list" the kids help create.  They also do a week at "Camp Grandma," a week of VBS, and a week at the beach.

Even living in The South, we don't have a pool membership (our neighborhood pool costs $1000 to join plus $425 annual dues so $1425 the first year!)  Enough friends and neighbors do that we get invited to a pool about once a week, and we have several county-funded waterparks that we could visit dozens of times for the cost of a pool memberships.

We have done some one-off sailing, skiing, and rock-climbing "schools" just so the kids know how to enjoy those activities at a basic level. And swimming lessons (basic life skill).

^^ we are most similar to this. Kids are 12, 10, 7(twins), 6, 3, 1

Spend very little on organized activities:
- I ensure the kids are well stocked with scooters, skates, bikes, etc and have opportunities to use them.
- DW is modestly good on the piano and is teaching the 2 who are interested.
- we take 1-2 weeklong beach vacas a year.
- local library and city parks have lots of free stuff. In fact the 12yr old is volunteering 12hrs/week at the library this summer. He longboards it to/from (3 miles r/t). I am proud of that!
- We have a big-ass pool in the backyard and this gets used. a lot.
- we intentionally chose to live in a 'burb where 1) the kids have opportunities to earn sweet $$ working for neighbors 2) the kids can walk/cycle themselves to things as they get older and decide what they like. As a kid I got very into basketball and played daily at local park/rec, for years, at modest cost, which I paid myself. I found this to be a very motivating setup and am replicating it.

Frankly I do not see the value of spending thousands/tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds or thousands of stressful hours on structured activities for children.

mm1970

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #35 on: June 08, 2018, 10:21:30 AM »
Both my husband and I were college athletes, so this was a topic of worry. But decided we aren't going to run ourselves ragged with the travel sports, camps, private coaches etc. it might take to get a child in at that level in the 2020s. Neither of us got sports scholarships, anyway.

We do 4H, which is extremely affordable because it's a state-funded extension program. Right now we pay $25 per YEAR. They have cheap camps, too.

Our kids have also done lots of (non-travel) soccer and flag football, which are relatively cheap at $125/season/child. But that's more like $225/season/child when you add in coaches gifts, bringing snacks and drinks, end-of-the-year pizza party, trophies, buying the cleats and shinguards and balls.

No private instrument lessons here. I hated them as a child, and our kids haven't been interested. The public school offers band or orchestra w/some instruction beginning in 4th grade, and you can rent the instrument for $10/month from the school.

We also do a TON of free activities at the library and parks, local festivals, outdoor movies, free museum admission days, etc. We have a free National Parks Pass because my husband is physically disabled (unrelated to his college athlete days! :-).

I put together an extensive plan for "Mommy Camp" every summer that includes workbooks, the library reading program, science and art projects, a weekly museum or cultural field trip, playdates, and a summer "bucket list" the kids help create.  They also do a week at "Camp Grandma," a week of VBS, and a week at the beach.

Even living in The South, we don't have a pool membership (our neighborhood pool costs $1000 to join plus $425 annual dues so $1425 the first year!)  Enough friends and neighbors do that we get invited to a pool about once a week, and we have several county-funded waterparks that we could visit dozens of times for the cost of a pool memberships.

We have done some one-off sailing, skiing, and rock-climbing "schools" just so the kids know how to enjoy those activities at a basic level. And swimming lessons (basic life skill).

^^ we are most similar to this. Kids are 12, 10, 7(twins), 6, 3, 1

Spend very little on organized activities:
- I ensure the kids are well stocked with scooters, skates, bikes, etc and have opportunities to use them.
- DW is modestly good on the piano and is teaching the 2 who are interested.
- we take 1-2 weeklong beach vacas a year.
- local library and city parks have lots of free stuff. In fact the 12yr old is volunteering 12hrs/week at the library this summer. He longboards it to/from (3 miles r/t). I am proud of that!
- We have a big-ass pool in the backyard and this gets used. a lot.
- we intentionally chose to live in a 'burb where 1) the kids have opportunities to earn sweet $$ working for neighbors 2) the kids can walk/cycle themselves to things as they get older and decide what they like. As a kid I got very into basketball and played daily at local park/rec, for years, at modest cost, which I paid myself. I found this to be a very motivating setup and am replicating it.

Frankly I do not see the value of spending thousands/tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds or thousands of stressful hours on structured activities for children.

As mentioned above, we do some structured activities for our kids, but also like unstructured and free things.

My older child tried some sports things - he did some "just for fun" soccer to learn the skills.  A couple of seasons.  Didn't really stick.  Then, at 9, he got into baseball.  He got to where he was okay at it, but as he didn't start at 4, like many do - he was always playing outfield, second base, and was at the bottom of the batting order.  So, no traveling baseball, etc.  Baseball here is fun, everyone gets to play, and it's not that expensive for a season.  Most of the money raised goes to field maintenance and umpires.  They make up the difference by selling snacks.

Our school has things like flag football, track, soccer, basketball teams starting in around 4th grade.  He tried soccer in 4th grade, but we lost every game - and this is why.  That year, our school was not eligible for a van to the games against the other schools.  We played the other schools - four of which were eligible for a van, and three where the parents were wealthy enough to drive their kids.  We simply never had a full number of kids at a game.  By the next year, when he'd already gotten into baseball, we were eligible for a van.  So - for the last couple of years, most of his friends have done track/ basketball/ soccer, where a couple of teachers coach and they take the district vans to the games and back.  I think that is probably the route we will take with kid#2.  He's five, not showing an interest in anything yet.  He loves the pool, and we belong to the YMCA.  So we take him there.  He had 3 years of swim lessons, but our instructor lost her lease.  So that's that.

We also love the free activities (concerts, etc) at local parks.  My big kid is really into music, but our school has a fantastic music program (free), and our district has a great after school program 2x a week (free, with busing!) He just this year joined a weekend orchestra for $200 a year.  Our school had a new after school program for rock bands (free).  Of course now if he continues with music, we will need to find him a flute. 

It's not either/ or, I think it needs to be a balance.  I have some friends who are only unstructured, because they can't/ won't be on time for things, but then get disappointed when their kids refuse to leave the house in the summer to do ANYTHING.  Our situation of structure (esp in the summer) is simply based on the fact that we both work full time.

Zamboni

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #36 on: June 08, 2018, 11:12:50 AM »
Quote
I grew up in a large family and was not able to afford music lessons, sports, and summer camps. I debate whether or not all this is worth the money

It is healthy to have this debate with yourself. You should keep evaluating each activity perhaps 1-2x per year and check in with the kids to make sure they are enjoying it. Obviously don't spend money after the point where a child is clearly not benefitting!

I have an usual perspective, perhaps, in that my parents were relatively lower income (and are now basically in poverty), but they still spent money of the type you are citing. I had piano lessons for years and my brother took violin & then guitar lessons. We were in the school band. We both had swim lessons and played sports. When we got older and really good at the sports, the sports became more expensive. I went to art camp for a week several times and we were in scouts. In the end, I got a college scholarship in a sport that my parents had no idea how to even play just based upon my own interest and their willingness to support my interest. My brother makes a killing in a trade that grew from a hobby my parents supported, not because they were interested (they most definitely were not), but because he was into it. It all worked out.

None of that was free. But more importantly, even as a child I was ACUTELY AWARE of what a PRIVILEDGE it was to do these things. Not because my parents made a big deal about it, but because ALMOST NONE of my neighborhood friends got to do those things. I had many friends who didn't even have dental care . . . you better believe I knew my piano lessons were a big deal.

My parents also did stuff with us. They taught us to play card games, mow the grass, sew on a button, cook basic meals, hammer a nail properly, check the car oil, etc. I think most of the kids in my neighborhood got some degree of this from their parents. Some got specialized skills from parents, like fixing a car or pruning a tree, that I never learned.

I don't think the two types of things are really apples to apples comparable . . . yes, do stuff with your own kids. Teach them stuff, like how to use the bank and handle money! But that is not the same as the kids learning things without your input from others who are more specialists in something, like an instrument. And it is not the same as the kids doing something fun and organized with other kids like sports or camp (even if you have a big family.) They are fundamentally different if the parents are smart enough to STAY OUT of the latter to a reasonable extent. The problem is when parents don't allow enough freedom for the children in the lessons and sports  . . . . when they micromanage those things, which I am seeing more and more and more.

So, let your kids go to camp and learn to play oboe or ice skate if they want. You think they only want dance lessons or karate lessons or whatever, perhaps, because their friends are doing it? Let them do it anyway if you can afford it. And let them quit later if they really want to quit, even if they get really good or you really like it yourself.

That's my $0.02. YMMV.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 03:43:17 AM by Zamboni »

Quint

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #37 on: June 11, 2018, 05:09:34 PM »
My oldest is in tae kwan do.  It's in the neighborhood of $2000 a year.  Expensive and time consuming in that we go 2-3 times a week but he really enjoys it and has learned some valuable lessons about hard work and having goals and he's made some friends too.  He wants his black belt and then he'll probably stop but we'll see, he may change his mind by then.

calimom

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #38 on: June 11, 2018, 10:09:25 PM »
Quote
I grew up in a large family and was not able to afford music lessons, sports, and summer camps. I debate whether or not all this is worth the money

It is healthy to have this debate with yourself. You should keep evaluating each activity perhaps 1-2x per year and check in with the kids to make sure they are enjoying it. Obviously don't spend money after the point where a child is clearly not benefitting!

I have an usual perspective, perhaps, in that my parents were relatively lower income (and are now basically in poverty), but they still spent money of the type you are citing. I had piano lessons for years and my brother took violin & then guitar lessons. We were in the school band. We both had swim lessons and played sports. When we got older and really good at the sports, the sports became more expensive. I went to art camp for a week several times and we were in scouts. In the end, I got a college scholarship in a sport that my parents had no idea how to even play just based upon my own interest and their willingness to support my interest. My brother makes a killing in a trade that grew from a hobby my parents supported, not because they were interested (they most definitely were not), but because he was into it. It all worked out.

None of that was free. But more importantly, even as a child I was ACUTELY AWARE of what a PRIVILEDGE it was to do these things. Not because my parents made a big deal about it, but because ALMOST NONE of my neighborhood friends got to do those things. I had many friends who didn't even have dental care . . . you better believe I knew my piano lessons were a big deal.

My parents also did stuff with us. They taught us to play card games, mow the grass, sew on a button, cook basic meals, hammer a nail properly, check the car oil, etc. I think most of the kids in my neighborhood got some degree of this from their parents. Some got specialized skills from parents, like fixing a car or pruning a tree, that I never learned.

I don't think the two types of things are really apples to apples comparable . . . yes, do stuff with your own kids. Teach them stuff, like how to use the bank and handle money! But that is not the same as the kids learning things without your input from others who are more specialists in something, like an instrument. And it is not the same as the kids doing something fun and organized with other kids like sports or camp (even if you have a big family.) They are fundamentally different if the parents are smart enough to STAY OUT of the latter to a reasonable extent. The problem is when parents don't allow enough freedom for the children in the lessons and sports  . . . . when they micromanage those things, which I am seeing more and more and more.

So, let your kids go to camp and learn to play oboe or ice skate if they want. You think they only want dance lessons or karate lessons or whatever, perhaps, because their friends are doing it? Let them do it anyway if you can afford it. And let them quit later if they really want to quit, even if they get really good or you really like it yourself.

That's my $0.02. YMMV.

This is the best post ever on this topic. @Zamboni , your parents sound like hardworking, inquisitive people who wanted the best for their kids. Sure it's great for kids to explore their own backyard, and to play with their siblings. And who wants to travel around the state with a  child doing cheer camp, softball or any other such activity? You don't need to drive them or yourselves insane with this.

But it's good for kids to have interests away from the core family. Music, sports and the like. It's how they learn to have a separate life, which is very important. It doesn't need to cost a lot, and it doesn't need to take enormous other resources, but it's a good thing.

Michael in ABQ

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #39 on: June 11, 2018, 10:41:09 PM »
5 kids ages 2 - 9. We don't really do any organized activities aside from swimming lessons once or twice a year at the public pool ($35 x 4 kids for two weeks). We tried soccer with our three oldest boys a year or two ago but it took up most of every Saturday for a few months and I'm already gone one weekend a month for National Guard duty so it just wasn't worth it. We're thinking about a martial art for our oldest 2-3 boys but for now they're happy playing with Legos, reading, and playing in the backyard or riding bikes/scooters.

Helvegen

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Re: How much do you spend a year on activities for your children
« Reply #40 on: June 24, 2018, 07:52:05 PM »
I am at probably the lowest point for spending. It looks like I will be clocking in at around $1500 this year for spring break/summer day activities for my 12 year old. This will probably trend back up because we want her to do some travel field trips/short study abroad experiences in high school. She is not into sports, so that's not an expense she racks up.