Extra Curricular Activities

What's with the fight to keep up with the Jones's when it comes to extra-curricular activities?
I am seriously perplexed at how mothers seem to be in a competition with one another over who's child does the most outside-of-school activities.

My children swim. They learn how to survive in the water. Once they master the art of staying afloat and being able to swim 20 metres or so, we will probably pull them out. Swimming lessons are expensive. They are important yes, but at a price. It is a life skill that we ensure they know but unless they show a keen interest in becoming the next Olympic champion in the 50m butterfly then it's an activity we won't always need to do.

When Master Seven was halfway through Kindergarten we told him he can pick one extra sport that he'd like to learn and he chose karate. I'm so pleased he did. Karate has taught him about his body, about discipline and about stranger danger. It seems to give him extra confidence and awareness. It's fantastic. But again, it is costly! It is also time consuming and with two little siblings in-tow it isn't all that enjoyable for me to take him to. But so long as he wants to stick with it, we will continue.

Other than swimming for both boys and karate for Master Seven we don't rush anywhere else during the week. Our afternoons are spent playing at home and chilling out. I'm realising though that we are not the norm when it comes to weekday run-arounds. Friends seem to be rushing to soccer practices and cricket training, basketball, gymnastics and touch football. Their weekends are filled up with soccer games and nippers carnivals and quite frankly I'm in awe of how they manage it all (and afford to pay for it all).

Aren't their children exhausted? Aren't the parents exhausted?
I am talking about young children here, a mere seven years of age or younger.
Exercise is so very important, but can't they ride bikes and jump on a trampoline? Can't they kick a ball in the backyard or the park? Can we not simplify and reduce the demand we put on ourselves and on our children?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

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