For a working mum things are a bit strange and detached when your children start school. When I compare my life and interaction with school compared with my mum’s (who was a SAHM until we were secondary school age), it’s so different.
I work full time, although compress my hours earlier in the week so I can do 2 normal time drop offs and 1 pick up on a Friday. The rest of the week, N is in morning club before school, and after school club (either wrap around care at the local nursery, or clubs at school). Obviously I’d love to be able to do more pick-ups because that’s when I can chat to other parents, find out what’s been going on from the teacher, and also just feel more involved. But that isn’t me. I like working, I’d feel like I’d waste my education not working, and I like the flexibility of having my own money to do what we want when we want. Oh and it avoids the expectation that I should do lots of housework which would happen if I didn’t work.
So, kids activities outside school really do mean a lot. Not just to N but to me as well.
People say children do too much nowadays, but I don’t think it’s much different to 30 years ago when I was in school. I used to have an activities 5 out of 7 days, as well as having lunch time clubs most school lunchtimes. From Brownies, to 2 different types of dance, to sports matches, to 2 different music lessons, to guides, to orchestra and wind band. I chose to do it all and loved it all.
N is the opposite. He doesn’t really want to join in much compared to some of his friends who do everything possible. Obviously he’s limited to what he can do in school and how that ties in with wrapround care – because unless I grovel to friends he can’t get from school clubs to nursery. And the OH will only do pick up once a week.
So he does tennis club at school and then out of school, mini tennis at the local club. Swimming lessons of course, for safety purposes, although he’ll also start school swimming in year 2. Then he asked to do Fun-damentals multiskills after school club which a friend helps out with for pick ups. During school at lunchtimes, I think he still does Lego club and cross country. That’s as much as we can fit in, although I would love if he could be encouraged to learn a musical instrument, but he’s so far refused.
N has a good mix of meeting children who go to different schools, and mixing with school friends out of school as well. He’s chosen all of his activities (although he does sometimes have a tennis moan before then going on and enjoying it).
But for me, I also love that he does a couple of activities outside school. It means I get to talk to other parents. Some are school parents as well – tennis in particular. At swimming they’re not, but it’s great to compare notes, share advice and moans, and share triumphs when they achieve something new.
I also get to meeting other parents from the village. We live outside 2 villages, so we’re a bit in limbo and we can’t often get to the big family village events. I know a few mums who had children at nursery with N, and through my sister in laws and other friends. But it’s nice to get to know them through activities our children do.
One of the reasons I was pleased N wanted to try and carry on with tennis was because I loved it as a child and teen. Now of course I can hardly hit a tennis ball, so the hope was that it would encourage me to join the tennis club and get back to tennis. At the moment it’s not really happening, but we’ll see what happens at the tennis festival next week.
I also get to see how N gets on and how he interacts in a group. Obviously once they start school we don’t see this, so it’s lovely to see how well he can behave, focus, and take in and act on corrections. I think he does pretty well, helped by him being eager to get things right. Trying different activities are a great way for children to find out what they really enjoy in the hope they’ll carry them on through life. Finding out their strengths and weaknesses, and working with them to grow.
If N didn’t do any activities, I’d be detached from everything. While I try and support school events when I can, I can’t get the time off work for everything because the school does a lot with parents. Before N started I had thought I’d like to be on the PTA. But the one evening meeting there was I had a clash, and all the other meetings have been after school drop off at 9am. So that’s not happened.
At the moment, kids activities work with work, school and outside events. As N progresses through levels it might get a bit harder, but hopefully we’ll still be able to use them to get out and about and socialising through them.
While N enjoys his tennis, I’ll make the most of it. For me Friday afternoons at the tennis club means:
- making friends
- summer sun
- childhood memories of playing tennis in the sun
- pride of N’s improvement and focus in his lesson
- comfortable chatter
What activities do your children do? Do you find benefits as well?