This is an honest blog post. One that has the potential to insult or offend some of you mommies. I can only hope that you, as a friend, will understand that this is only my perspective. I don't judge you if you choose the opposite as I do.
Last summer, we couldn't afford to send Alivia to 3 year old preschool. Frankly it wasn't that I even wanted her to go (3 year old preschool? really? What is she gonna learn there that I can't teach her at home for free). Anyway, I knew I wanted to get her involved in something, so I asked her what she'd like to do. At the time, she was very big into dance. She'd frolic around our house constantly. She loved everything about it. So, I searched for a dance studio in the area and enrolled her in a children's dance class once a week for 45 minutes.
1 Semester (3-4 months) of class: $216
As we approached the end of the 1 semester, it was dance costume time.
1 Sparkly Sequined Dance Costume: $65
I emailed our teacher and told her that we couldn't afford it...and weren't even sure we could afford dance next semester. The teacher and her family go to our church, and graciously offered to pay for Alivia's dance costume. I can't tell you what a blessing this was for us. I was over and beyond thankful for their gift.
Time went on...we gradually paid for the 2 Semester of dance (another $216)...and then it was dance recital ticket ordering time.
4 Tickets to a 15 minute dance recital: $60.00 (and no, we didn't get any free tickets for parents)
Every year, at the end of the year, they create a t-shirt for all the dancers.
1 YOUTH small tshirt: $22.00
GRAND TOTAL FOR A YEAR OF DANCE FOR MY 4 YEAR OLD: $579.00
(not including ballet shoes, tap shoes and leotards)
With all this said, I've come to a conclusion about activities like this. They are crap. My daughter is as uncoordinated as she was when I enrolled her. In fact, the only thing about dance that she cares about anymore is wearing her leotards. I'm not saying that dance is crap. Dance is beautiful, artistic and should be recognized for what it is. But when you ask me to pay $579.00 for my 3-4 year old to frolic around a dance room for 45 minutes once a week, its a sin.
I've come to a conclusion (with help from a mom of older kids who I've recently befriended). She told me to let my kids be free...
"go pick flowers. run in a field. that's all they really want to do!"
I couldn't agree with her more. Of course, socially a dance class is a great idea. But my kid is the furthest thing from socially awkward or segregated...all this dance class did was teach her what kind of little brats to avoid.
I want to be the mom that encourages my children to do what they want to do. I want to see them develop the skills they desire and flourish in that...but I also want them to have a childhood. I want them to have fun. I want them to enjoy nature, run in fields, take walks, go to the park every day, have picnics, play games, do crafts, etc etc...and all of these things are FREE. There is no reason to dish out almost $600 for my toddler to do in a snooty dance studio what she'd be happier doing in our living room.
I learned my lesson. Today I will be paying $60 for tickets for Alivia's dance recital ($60 that could have been used for a much needed date night...or family night...or anything that isn't a 15 minute dance recital). Today will be the last time I pay this much money for something so insignificant.
So take my advice, fellow parents: Do your research. Its a guarantee that your local park district likely has UNBELIEVABLE classes for your tiny one at a fraction of what I paid. Don't dish out the money for them now. Take that $600 you almost spent and put it in a bank account for them instead. Then go by a leotard at target for $12 and start a dance class in your living room :)