After School Activities: How Many Is Too Many?

Today DD3 started piano lessons. She will turn 6 at the end of this month; both her sisters started at around the same age. She already does horse riding and swimming out of school, and attends a multi-sport after school club, so that’s 4 out of school activities.

Tomorrow DS is going to try horse riding for the first time. He only does swimming at the moment and I’m not looking for him to do anything else until he starts school. Then maybe he’ll do multi-sports with his sister. This will make for a later school pick which will be very welcome. read more

My Swimming Nightmare.

I’ve blogged about my deep dislike of Thursday night’s swimming classes before, and I suspected the unpleasantness would move up a notch when DS started lessons along with his sisters.

He had his first lesson last week and seemed to enjoy it at the time. He didn’t like the shower or having his hair washed afterwards, but that didn’t last long, and he was happy to tell people he’d been swimming afterwards. If mine have been traumatised by an experience, they usually end up in tears every time someone mentions it, so I stupidly assumed swimming lessons were not going to be a problem for DS.

So I was taken aback when last night, after dinner, when I was trying to get the kids upstairs to change into their swimming gear, my youngest suddenly launched into one of the worst tantrums I’ve ever seen him have.  read more

The Gallery: Phone Photos.

It’s not a great photo. It’s out of focus, grainy and his hand is blurred.

My excuse is he was bouncing off the walls, and the lighting was fluorescent.

I don’t take a lot of photos with my phone as my regular camera is about the same size, so I usually carry both. But you can’t really whip out a ‘proper’ camera in the changing rooms, so I made do with the camera on my HTC Desire.

It’s a great little camera and I should make a point of using it more often.  read more

Music practice.

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve slunk upstairs for nana-nap. Obviously, I haven’t got around to sleeping yet but I don’t feel like tackling the Mt Everest of washing to be folded in the corner of the room, so I’ve fired up the laptop instead.

DH is downstairs supervising the older two girls doing their music practice. DD1 is 9 and has just passed her grade 2 piano and is also learning the double bass at school. If you are considering letting your child learn such a large instrument ( it’s taller than I am) make sure you have some means of getting it to lessons. Ours doesn’t fit in the car with all 4 children; I’m going to have to put it on the roof rack if we ever all have to go anywhere with it. The other thing about the bass is that it’s very expensive to repair if you ever break it ( yes, I’m speaking from experience). So make sure you insure your instrument, even if you are hiring it. DD2 is 7 and is about to sit her grade 1 piano. She’s learning the trombone at school.

Both of them are at the stage where they can play recognisable music on the piano and they like to playing simple duets together. I  find myself enjoying listening to them play. But they are still at the beginners stage of the trombone and bass and these practice sessions are not so pleasant to listen to.

I think DD1 and 2 are pretty typical kids in that often they don’t feel like practicing. So I have to make them. Some days are better than others and they fight about who will go first. Other days I often think it’s a wasted effort as there is very little practice going on amongst the wailing and whining. They practice their piano daily and it takes as long as it takes, sometimes 10 mins, sometimes 30. DD1 was practicing for close to an hour when preparing for her exam. I keep an eye on their notebooks to make sure they aren’t skipping anything. They practice their other instruments 4 times a week and I find this harder to enforce.

I think I’m quite strict about making them practice in comparison to some of my friends, but I’m nothing when compared to the lady in this article . She states her children practice music for up to 3 hours a day! I don’t know about my kids, but I know I wouldn’t have the stamina to crack the whip for that long. I may supervise my children doing their practice or homework but it’s supervision from a distance; I don’t want to feel like I’m doing the work along with them.

I do feel a bit guilty about making my children do their music practice or not letting them quit an activity they begged to take up, but have since grown tired of, before the year is up. But although I want my children to be happy, I also want them to know that they need to work hard at things sometimes. Often you do have to put some boring slog to master a new skill to the point where you enjoy it.

But I also think it’s important that they get to go to sleepovers and have playdates, be in school plays, watch TV and play computer games as well. My children don’t need to be the best at everything but  I will do what I can to help them be the best they can be. Then the rest is up to them.