Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Lowdown on Extra Mural Activities

After having posted recently on the extra mural activites that we do as a family which include:
Sport, Creative Expression, Spiritual Growth and Learning Enrichment - some of you spoke to me personally about feeling quite inadequate, lacking in someway in comparison or just feeling overwhelmed.  And so I felt it was important to bring some balance to these articles.  I would like to just emphasise some points which I think are important to consider.
*   Everything doesn't happen all the time or every day. A number of the listed activities only happen once a month, some are only once a week and some are only when I am up to it.  The only activity we do a lot of is Nippers, as their schedule is very busy.  The lists may look long, but the aim of these articles - is to emphasise balance.  We need to consistently weigh up what our children are involved with, so that we don't place special emphasis or have a slanted activity program based on our own interests/like/dislikes.  We need to see the child as a whole and to help grow and develop all aspects of who they are.

Extra murals do not have to cost a lot.  I don't send my children to tennis lessons (though they love it) because we can't afford it.  A lot of the monthly activities cost a minimal amount, and are affordable to us as a family.  Don't get into debt to do activities - and what you can't pay someone to do, you can do yourself.  There was a long time where we couldn't afford swimming lessons and so I found an amazing online program which shows you with online videos and activities, how to teach your child to swim.  It meant having to get into the water with them, and being the instructor - but if you really want them to do it, then do it with them.

Look for open days for museums and local attractions - so many of these places have special deals over off peak seasons/ holidays or specials on public holidays. 

You do, I do - have turns to organised extra mural activities - there are so many fun things you can do if you partner with other moms or if you are part of a co-op.  If you're not - start your own.  Cooking, photography, art, sewing, sculpture, outreach to community projects, volunteering... the list is endless.

Your children are different to mine - obvious but something we all forget.  We are all prone to comparing and forgetting that we are so different.  Don't try and do what we do, because this is the Grant Family not your family.  Even the fact that Sean works from home influences the dynamics of how it all fits together.  He works from home and is therefore able to take time out to do some activities with the children.  Your husband might not be as available or willing after a long day at the office and peak hour traffic.

*   We go through seasons of busy times to quiet times, work and rest, play and learn.  Consider your season and enjoy it!  Just don't go into hibernation:)  Cabin fever is not good for the children and for mom!

 *  Age plays a vital part in your choice of activity.  You may have noticed how many activities we are involved in, but only a few of them are applicable to Ruthie, who is only 4.  She plays more than anything else where ever we go and that's fine.  Soon she too will start Nippers (or Starfish for her age) but for the moment she just wants to play play play. She loves her swimming lessons and she is doing so well. And that's enough for her.

* Location, Location, Location :  when we lived in a little "dorpie" (town for my English readers) in KwaZulu Natal - there was a  lot less places to go to.  Our homeschooling community was also tiny!  But here in False Bay in the Western Cape, homeschoolers are everywhere.  Also if you only have one car, like we do - and Sean takes the car for work (which always gets preference in our house) - we need to be able to get to where the activities are. Now fortunately we live along the train line so we use the train a lot. The children love it and it enables us to go to a lot of  places. However, there are also a lot of places we would  love to go to that we can't when we don't have the car, because sadly in South Africa (yes even in the Western Cape) - a lot of the infrastructure is rather poor.

Building balance into your children's lives - growing them in their relationship with God, their relationship with others, in stature and mind - this is your key.  Don't try and do everything and don't leave one of these things out.  And while you are building balance into their lives - don't forget to do the same for yourself mom - they need you and they need you to be looking after you too.

Have a great weekend filled with new experiences and special moments!

Linking up with Wise Woman Link-Up,  Women Living Well,  Raising Homemakers


  1. Well done Mel, I wish that moms could just let go of what others do or don't do and just love and enjoy the family they have. Comparing is just not good when it makes one feel bad/ not worth it! We need to learn to do what is right for out particular family and circumstances.

    1. We all do it though in almost every area of life - how we look, what we wear, what we drive, what curriculum we use. But learning to be content this year has been one of my biggest learning curves,I don't get it right all the time, but I am definitely starting to appreciate who I am and where I am, without comparisons!And to bloom where I am planted!

  2. Thanx Mel, this post should have been part of the carnival post. It's a struggle to find that balance especially for us newbies... We forget that the seasoned homeschool families were also once where we are and had to find what works for their families too... We tend to feel inadequate due to the lack of knowledge but I'm thankfull for this and many other seasoned homeschooler' blogs since they help me gain that knowledge so much faster. Think I'll add it soon as I get to my laptop...

  3. ah yes, the secret...learning to be content!

  4. Thanks Mel. Needed this.


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