Recently, my husband and I came close to getting a second mortgage on our house so that my son could join a travel team that demanded an entrance fee. The amount of the fee was comparable to the cost of my first car, and the time and energy involved with handling the mandatory practices, games and fundraisers required a private secretary. This was the last straw.
As I pried the checkbook out of my spouse's hand, I had a vision of my son in a therapist's chair, lamenting his failed dream of being the next A-Rod. This was indeed a frightening thought, but I was willing to live with it in exchange for less financial stress.
Today, with the money we saved by cutting back on the extracurricular events, private lessons and fancy travel teams, we planned family vacations out of the country for January and July. Weekends are now spent visiting relatives, checking out a new restaurant, or having friends over for play dates, on the occasion when they may have a free night in their schedules.
As a parent, I feel it is unwise to spend a huge amount of time and money to overload our children with extracurricular events. They can cause stress for everyone involved. We should stop shuffling our offspring to and from private lessons, elite sports clubs and expensive trainers.
I propose a grassroots movement. Parents, take the challenge: Limit children to one activity per season. Deposit, in a separate savings account, the money you would have spent on the private lessons with the washed-out sports guru from the state-of-the-art facility. Watch your money, time and children flourish.
Egg Harbor Township