“How do you handle all the activities your kids want to do without spoiling them or going into debt? My kids seem to have a new activity or camp they HAVE to go to every week!”
SUCH a great question. Wes and I have been dealing with this exact same thing (it doesn’t help that for the last six weeks, they got flyers almost daily about different camps in the area). The summer can be stressful financially because of maybe increased childcare, camps, and traveling. Preparing ahead of time is great, but sometimes the demands of the rest of the year won’t allow for that. Some of the things we’ve decided to do are…
Set the priorities with the kids. If your child doesn’t have a realistic view of money and the cost of activites, it will be easy for them to want to do everything and not understand why you need to say no. They will also probably be bombarded with invitations, so it’s our job to help them understand what is reasonable. For some families, setting a price limit might work best, and for others, setting a limit on time works better. For us, we narrowed it down to what our kids are interested in the most for camps- soccer for Josiah and Malachi, and art for Selah. For Josiah’s camp, it it the most expensive one and so we have explained to him that we would like him to earn some money to try to help pay for it. I understand that for some people, the idea of asking your child to help pay for camp seems extreme, but the truth is, we believe he will appreciate it more if he is helping pay for it. We will ask Selah to do the same thing. For each activity that they would like to do (zoo, aquarium, etc), we will sit down and show them what it costs for our family, and ask them to help us adjust the budget so it can be more affordable.
Manage your guilt. I remember going to a summer camp when I was about eight years old. I remember that there was a boy who wore a red plaid shirt all week (in the summer in Texas) who followed me around. Finally on the last day of camp, he played Richard Marx’s “Right here Waiting for You” on a portable casio keyboard. And I remember losing my glasses in the river. Other than that, my summer memories consisted of walking to the Circle K, playing barbies in the mud, and climbing countless trees. No fancy lessons, no specialized latin camps, no six foot blow up waterslides. And I have turned out to be a (reasonably) well adjusted person. There is a lot of pressure, both on kids and parents, to provide the ultimate summer in fun, education, and spiritual maturity. This pressure will only lead you to overspending and overscheduling! Choosing to do things that will build memories is wonderful, but you don’t want to mar those memories with stress over money or time. Remember that school IS coming…and relaxed intentional time is what will build up your relationship with your child the most.
Be creative with income. I’ve sat down with my kids and talked to them about what they could do to earn some income for the summer to help offset the cost of activities. Josiah is exceptionally good with little kids and very responsible, so he has decided he might try to earn some money as a mother’s helper. He also wants to do some lawn care for others. Selah has…interesting ideas of how to earn income. After explaining that people are unlikely to pay her to beatbox for them, she has decided to sell hand painted fans, and help with gardening.
And that brings it to me. Ultimately, I’d love to make some kind of income writing, but until that happens, I’ve decided to try to generate income in other ways. One of those is making these tutus-
Prices start at $10 and increase depending on color choices and size.
I”m also available to provide cakes and baked goods (pies, pastries, candy, etc). Prices vary. Here are some pictures of cakes I have done-