Paying for Activities

by Kelly · 5 comments

in A Frugal Family


France is really dead in August- nothing happens. Shops are closed, businesses are quiet, the roads are empty. But then, on La Rentrée, or the day that the country goes back to school (the same day across the nation), everything wakes up.

And so it goes for sports and after-school or Saturday activities. Last Saturday, 120 of the Grenoble area sports associations took part in a big fair at the shopping mall. (Yes, I can use the article ‘the’ in terms of shopping malls here, as in one shopping mall, or singular!) My husband and I decided to go because we had been talking a lot about what extra-curricular activities we wanted to sign the boys up for. They had already tentatively decided on Judo and Swimming.

We found the Judo association we wanted to go through right away. And even better, the classes are going to be about a 10 minute walk from our new apartment. But we couldn’t find any swimming classes that were convenient, or even that had places (and that we could afford). So we stopped at a tennis club, and they told us about the open day they were having the next week, which was the day before yesterday. Then, during the week, I heard from an American friend here who was going to sign her son up for Little League, the first training of which was also being held the day before yesterday.

Saturday morning my husband took the kids first to baseball, then to tennis, to see what they liked, and which activities they wanted to do. Luckily, the activities won’t always be happening at the same time. My oldest son (age 6.5) decided that he only wanted to do baseball. My youngest son, however, decided that he wanted to do both activities. So now he’ll be doing three sports during the week, and my oldest will do just two.

Judo will cost €265 for the year for the two kids; baseball will cost €160 for the year for one. I don’t know how much baseball will cost, but I imagine it will be in between in price. My husband also wants to sign them up for guitar lessons, but I imagine that will depend on how much lessons cost! Basically we’re looking at €1000 for the year for lessons and activities, which is a lot, when you think about it.

I’m not worried about spending the money– it does fit into our budget and we can pay for all the lessons over the next three months and then be done for the year. I am a bit worried about the kids feeling overwhelmed, especially my second son. I hope he’ll have enough time to relax.

Mostly, what I’m feeling is gratitude. I’m feeling very lucky and very thankful to be able to pay for the activities that my kids want to do. Last year we had to stop doing their extra English lessons because we couldn’t afford them. I’m happy that this year we can afford to do the things they want to do… within reason, of course!

What activities are you or your kids doing this year… or not doing?


1 Nancy September 16, 2009

When our kids were young I always found it hard to keep their number of activities to a ‘reasonable’ number. I didn’t want them (or me) to feel like they were missing out on something that they should/wanted to be in. I also found that sometimes the time commitment was alot. More than we (the parents) wanted. More than the kids wanted. As the kids got older it seemed that it got easier. We f inally made a family rule that each child could do no more than 2 activities at the same time. This helped all of us. Now, they’re teenagers and it seems that we’re constantly running again. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that I just need to enjoy it because before long they’ll be gone and we won’t have anyone to run after.
.-= Nancy´s last blog ..feel good weekend =-.

2 Lis @ Ace Cash Express September 16, 2009

I think that adding more activities like above will have a positive result to them in the coming years. As long as they are not burned out, the children will increase their stress tolerance. The problem is if the activities are becoming too much for them that they’ll eventually realize that they’re not progressing on anything.

3 Imene September 17, 2009

You make miss France right now. We live in NJ and the cost of the activities is insane. 12 weeks of gym is $450, 8 weeks of soccer is $240…
And there seem to be an unwritten law that states that you have to sign up your kids to as many activities as possible or you’re a bad mother. So I decided to be a bad mother. Right now the boys go to a french preschool and they have swim lessons and that’a about it. They are 4 and 3.
I don’t believe you should overwhelm children with activities. As they grow older and request things I will allow one sport and one artistic activity and I think that’s enough. But I sometimes feel judged by other parents.
.-= Imene´s last blog ..WIP wednesday : Tomten =-.

4 Catherine April 2, 2010

My five-year-old boy is taking art lessons on Wednesday mornings. I also live in France, so kids are off school on Wednesdays. We pay 125 euros every ten lessons. It’s pretty costly but my son loves it. The teacher is really enthusiastic and has great ideas each week. At Christmas, my French mother-in-law asked us what she could get for the kids. I asked her to pay for some of the art lessons instead of getting him yet another toy.

5 Kelly April 2, 2010


I often ask for ‘experience’ gifts as well. Certain people don’t like it (my dad, for example, prefers getting a physical object, like a book, instead of paying for an experience), but others are so grateful to have an idea for a gift that will actually get used!

Sometimes we go for a ‘theme’, ie one grandparent paying for lessons, another person paying for supplies and someone else getting books related to the topic. That’s always fun!


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