We all want our kids to be socially active and most children will either be actively involved in a sport or activity outside of home or school. With the increase in popularity of game systems and devices and the decrease in backyard space in most suburban homes, parents are looking for ways to keep their kids active and entertained without spending a fortune. Making new friends and developing team work strategies are an added bonus, as well as creating new talents and future interests.
Most of us participated in a sport of some kind growing up, or were part of a club or group that focused on a particular activity that peaked our interest. Think dancing, gymnastics, football, karate, swimming, cricket, netball, basketball, BMX; or Scouts, Girl Guides, music lessons or drama club. But parents can be forgiven for being hesitant in signing their kids up for new activities as the cost has increased significantly over the years and kids will usually try out a few different sports/clubs before deciding on the one that suits them. Start up costs for most sports run into the hundreds when you consider uniform, specific equipment and term fees and are a complete waste of money when your child decides that the new activity is not for them. Here are some tips on how to keep the costs of starting new activities down, especially at this time of year when most children will be enrolling in an assortment of different classes.
Don’t go enrolling your little boy in ballet or piano lessons when he displays obvious signs of being more into physical sports or cant sit still for long periods. Keep an eye out for activities that catch your child’s attention on TV, the internet or whilst you are out and about. Keep an open mind; as much as you might like your little girl to be the next kickboxing MMA champion, she may prefer drama, dance or scrapbooking lessons. If your child spends most of their time kicking a footy, chances are they will love football. If you find your child swinging off the washing line, enrol them in gymnastics. Save yourself some time and money whilst your child figures out what they want to do by catering to their existing interests.
Buy The Minimum
Or better yet, borrow! If you can find second hand uniforms and equipment, grab it. It will make do until your child decides if this is the activity they really want to do and you can invest in their own stuff later on. Lots of parents get stuck with shoes, uniforms, bats, balls etc that cost a small fortune, only for the child to decide they no longer want to participate and hope to get some of their money back buy selling second hand. If you know someone who has a child that did or does the same activity, ask them if they have any uniforms or equipment their child might have outgrown for you to borrow or buy. Post on Facebook, ask around or check out Gumtree or Ebay.
Private clubs and lessons can cost a fortune and are usually catered more towards kids who show aptitude, enthusiasm and a unique talent for the sport. Try and find cheaper lessons at a community centre or see if an instructor will provide private lessons for a small group and split the costs.
Keep It Relevant
Don’t shell out for camps and competitions away if you cannot afford it. If your child is serious about the sport, there will be plenty of time for travelling and competing when they get older.
Although it’s natural for parents to want their child to have every opportunity to try everything, realistically it is just not feasible when you are on a budget. Some parents see it as an investment in their child’s creative side or their physical health, others just believe all children should have the opportunities to develop their interests in extra curricular activities. Whatever your belief, it is possible to allow your kids to explore these interests without investing a huge amount of money.
What are your ideas or strategies to keep the costs down on kids sports and/or hobbies?