Parenting Doubts

{First of all, a big thank you to everyone who left kind, encouraging words on my last post. It does help to know why you all read… Moving forward I hope to write more posts that are about specific topics and not just run-downs of my day-to-day. We’ll see how I do…}

I remember when my daughter was young and I spent a fair amount of time tracking her milestones and worrying vaguely when it felt like she was behind. I always wondered if I should be doing more for her “development,” that low-grade anxiety always simmering in the background.

Then my 2nd child was born and I was just trying to keep my head above water. And while there was some concern over his ability to meet eating milestones–we attended some PT with swallowing specialists–I mostly stopped caring about milestones altogether.

Those years were mostly focused on my daughter and her needs. We saw a “feelings helper” for a while, we got a diagnosis of sensory processing disorder and learned how to understand and accommodate our daughter’s needs. Then there was the transition to Kindergarten, vision therapy, and just getting through the days with a full time job and two kids.

2nd grade has been great for my daughter. She has flourished academically and socially this year. And while she’s still struggling with her big feelings more than I think most kids her age, she is doing really well overall. She’s now seven-and-a-half, can read and write and regroup. She meets all the academic expectations set by us and the school. It’s easy to feel like we can just sit back and relax for a bit, that we don’t need to keep pushing.

But I’m realizing there are other skills we may be neglecting. Our daughter can’t really tie her shoes. I mean, she can do it, when under duress, but she has HATED, and basically refused to wear, the two pairs of shoes we’ve gotten her with laces. While she can swim (keep her head above water), she doesn’t know how to do any of the strokes. She can’t ride a bike. We haven’t yet introduced an instrument.

A lot of this stuff has happened by seven, or can start. I could definitely ride a bike by seven, and I remember my parents thinking my sister was odd when she couldn’t. I started playing the piano at seven (maybe even six actually) and I could definitely swim all the strokes… I absolutely was tying my shoes on the reg.

I spent Saturday morning at a soccer class with my son, and then we met his friends at a nearby park to ride scooters and bikes. All his friends (none of whom are 5 yet) could ride two-wheelers without training wheels. I have never even put my daughter on a bike WITH training wheels, let alone without, and my son refuses to give his balance bike a real try.

They both love swimming lessons but we haven’t gone since before the summer. It’s so hard to find lessons for both of them at the same time, and the thought of taking them separately, at two different times during the week, makes me want to die inside.

I hadn’t even considered an instrument until I heard all the parents talking about what their kids play.

It’s so easy to be complacent, to just get through the days. I’ve always known I was less inclined than other mothers to put my kids in extracurricular activities. They are so expensive! And such a pain to fit into our schedule. Also, I HATE missing a class I’ve paid for–it’s one of my worst pet peeves. So my kids’ friends go to sports workshops or gymnastics or dance or art or drama and my kids go to… Girl Scouts (which I hate) and soccer (which we’re newly going to). For the past seven years I’ve been able to shake off the guilt, reminding myself that they are still young and don’t need all that stuff yet. But my daughter is not so young anymore. There is a reason so many kids start an instrument at seven (or before). There is a reason soccer classes for 5-year-olds are so popular.

I definitely want my kids to like sports, and feel confident in their ability to play them (or at the very least do something physical that requires some skill and determination). I want them to play an instrument, or at least practice playing one. I swam year-round for years and credit the sport with keeping me sane in middle and early high school. I am incredibly grateful for the years I played piano and still feel proud for the level of technique I achieved. I want my kids to have these experiences as well, to learn not just the specific skills required to play a sport or instrument well, but also the resolve needed to practice when you don’t feel like it, and the determination required to keep attempting something even though you’re frustrated and continue to fail. I want them to feel the pride of finally managing what they couldn’t manage so many times before, and also the delight of recognizing how far you’ve come.

It’s so easy to throw so much of myself into my work, and my daughter’s school, that I don’t have much left for these endeavors. When the simple act of making them finish dinner, or put on clothes to leave the house, let alone homework, requires SO MUCH effort on my part, the idea of creating yet another obligation is truly daunting. It would be one thing if they were self-motivated to swim better, or ride a bike, or tie their own shoes, or play a sport or instrument, but so far neither has asked. They don’t seem to care, yet, that they can’t do these things. I don’t know if I have the energy to care enough for all of us.

What do your kids do? How do you choose their activities? What are your plans moving forward?


  1. My 7 year old can’t really tie shoes either. Rarely wears the pairs with laces.

    Neither me nor husband played instruments or are musical so we don’t feel a push for that. If our kids clamor to do that then we’ll look into it.

    We’ve done swimming which they enjoy although they’d rather play than take a class. We did gymnastics for a while but it wasn’t cheap and they kept asking to quit so we did. Still doing dance, same story, not sure how long we’ll keep it up.

    I used to worry and feel guilty bc we can only do so many activities that can be fit in on Saturdays or after 5 during by the week since we both work FT. Now it seems my kids just wanna stay home and play so I’m questioning spending so much money. And like you I hate missing a class we’ve paid for. I can’t help dividing the monthly price…

    1. It makes me feel better that so many other 7+ kids can’t tie shoes. I feel like nowadays there are SO MANY shoe styles that don’t require tying laces! It’s so easy to avoid it. Maybe some day my kid will find a pair she ABSOLUTELY LOVES that will provide the personal incentive necessary for her to learn.

      You’re right that there is only so much that can be fit in on weekends… Especially when my daughter HATES leaving the house. Soccer on Saturday with my son was really nice though. He clearly enjoyed being out and about and seeing his friends. We ended up staying out all morning and playing outside. He needs that more than his sister, and I have to make sure I give it to him. I’m glad we still have so much soccer left and I’ll probably sign him up for the next session too…

      And I also divide the price to figure out how much I’m wasting when I miss a class. And then I fixate on it. Not productive.

  2. Neither of my kids can tie their shoes. I honestly just never took the time to teach them. I keep thinking about it and then forgetting it. We are currently in zero activities, and I was having the exact same thoughts as you recently—maybe we need to restart swimming, or another sport, and I think my 8 year old would like to play an instrument but I’ve never prioritized (i just wrote and deleted “I’ve been too lazy” because I am NOT lazy, there just aren’t enough hours in the day!) looking into it.
    Yes, there is the time/money factor but honestly? One of the biggest deterrents is how negative & grumpy my kids (especially B) get around any activity—even one they asked for or agreed to. It is a half an hour of whining and complaining and not wanting to go EVERY SINGLE TIME and I just wanted a break from it, plain and simple.

    1. I love using “prioritize.” That really is what it’s about. I need to keep remembering that, and figure out what I want to prioritize. We still have time and eventually we’ll get there. I just need to keep thinking about all this and figure out how we’ll make it all happen.

    1. I will definitely check out that episode. Thanks so much for sharing!

      I know my life will be a LOT harder if my kids are signed up for things they don’t want to do. An instrument is important to me, and I’m going to start looking into it with my daughter. That and swimming and trying to get them on their bikes here and there. I just need to prioritize these things.

  3. We do a ton of stuff…

    My kids (ages 7 and 8) take violin, math enrichment, ice skating, and a third language (they go to a bilingual school, but I want them to learn another foreign language too).

    They are very enthusiastic about the violin and the math and much less so about the language and ice skating.

    It really is just part of our routine at this point.

    Could a piano (or other instrument) teacher come to your house? That’s one thing that makes activities much easier — not having to actually take the kids out.

    Also, my kids’ afterschool has “clubs” like ballet or soccer or pottery or chess that I sign the kids up for if they want. That gives them other activities that require zero effort on my part.

    1. Wow. That is a ton of stuff. I’m pretty sure *I* don’t have the energy to do that much with my two kids. Props for having all that be a part of your regular routine!

    2. We have after school clubs too which are nice (less guilt for making them do the after school program until we get off work)

  4. 1. Musical instruments~ If the child isn’t asking repeatedly to learn there isn’t much point in setting up a new point of argument over practicing. Life is short and pressuring kids is painful.
    2. Tying your shoes. I do think learning to do knots and bows is good manual dexterity and life skill. However, she at 7-1/2 is having trouble with it. Look at why it is hard, find other ways for her to improve manual dexterity. Braiding helps, it is easy to haul around 3 strand of shortish yarn and let them practice in quiet short intervals. Practice bow tying then too. (While waiting at restaurant for food to arrive works well.) Celebrate. Use a practice site, not shoes when needing to leave house to go places, to learn how to do shoe tying skills. Don’t buy tie shoes until she/he is good at tying…avoid the issue, choose your battles.
    3. Swim lessons are important for safety. Send one kid at a time to lessons if that is easier. Start lessons now not at beginning of summer. Yes, it is a pain but …. JCC(evening lessons mid-week) and YMCA(lessons on Sunday!), other places too. I’d advocate a post lesson ‘treat’ for the kid taking the lesson (without fanfare or mentioning correlation about treat). Ask husband if he want to watch other kid or go to lesson … choice helps. Or if he prefers to alternating week in and week out.
    4. Bikes. Let big sister use balance bike that is small for her to figure it out. Much easier to learn safely on smaller than needed bike. Given that your sister was not an early rider either, assume your children got the genes that makes that balancing harder to learn than for other children. It is an inner ear thing among other items, and the feeling of safety from easily putting your feet down instantly helps. (Yes, I was older when I learned.) Again, team practice with a treat and time with just one parent; applaud the trying and successes and do not push the pedals before child is secure on balancing.
    5. Your children are not you. They will follow different paths in life & in what sustains/nourishes them throughout their lives.
    6. You are SUPER busy. Dad needs an probably would like to help cover these things if he knew where, how long, when, etc. But making the learning a ‘focused one kid at a time’ rather than both at the same time might really help.
    Good wishes!!!!

    1. 1. But isn’t learning to read music and play an instrument supposed to be really amazing for brain development? I don’t know if I am going to let my kids take the lead on that one forever…
      2. My daughter just got a knot-quilting set. We will be completing that quilt. Obviously not concerned about my son on this one yet…
      3. Swim lessons are important for safety, and I want us to swim a lot this summer AND the kids love it, so I need to just figure out something that works for us. It’s too important not to prioritize this.
      4. Big sister is WAY too big for the balance bike. My giant 4yo is almost too big for it. I honestly don’t know how well my daughter might be able to ride a bike, but my son does seem to struggle. This one is hard for me because I LOVE bikes (obviously) and want them to be able to ride. I just need to prioritize this more as well.
      5. I know my children are not me. And their childhood is not my childhood. I think I just worry we spend too much time at home, doing nothing but getting on each other’s nerves.
      6. I am super busy. And their dad is not super interested in making any of this happen. I do think I need to at least get my daughter into swimming, especially while my son is taking soccer. Then I can add him later…

  5. I have specifically made the choice to NOT put my kids (age 4 and 6) in a lot of activities yet, because I think that finding a balance of non-structured play vs. team-based activities is important. Plus, FINANCES! TIME! STRESS!

    Stella (age 6) has done 2 semesters of dance (it was once a week for 45 minutes), but at the end of the last one whined a lot about how it wasn’t fun (she was having problems memorizing the routines in the more advanced class she was in 2nd semester). I made her finish out the semester since she had asked to be in the class, but no way was I going to force her to continue with it. She switched to gymnastics just this past month, and so far she LOOOOOOVES it. I can tell in 3 weeks that it clicks with her way more than dance ever did. It’s once a week on Wednesdays from 4:15-5:45 in the town 30 miles away, so I made sure to enroll her in a class that a friend’s child was in so we can alternate bringing the girls. On my weeks, I drop her off and Harvey and I go grab our groceries/do errands those 90 minutes, so at least I’m still being productive with my time.

    Harvey (who just turned 4) is in ZERO organized activities during the school year right now. I tried putting them both in soccer last fall, but they were both ho-hum about it, so we literally went once and I bailed on it because I didn’t want to spend 4-5pm on Friday afternoons at the field either.

    We did do swimming lessons for both last summer (2 week session) and will continue with that because of safety (and fun!). The high school girl we hired for the summer brought them to that, so it was no extra stress on me.

    Music is HUGELY important to me, and I think that knowing how to read music and play an instrument affects brain function in many positive ways. We do lots of singing at our house, and the kids are on a wait list for a piano teacher. I haven’t stressed much about getting them started yet, though that is definitely in the plans.

    Other than that, the kids have play dates, ride bikes (which every kid does here by age 3, but that’s probably a function of where I live too), play make-believe in the back yard, etc. That’s it!

    1. I also think the non-structured time is so important. I wish my kids were doing this stuff when I’m not with them, at daycare and aftercare, when they already have some kind of structured time in their day. By the time I pick them up, I think they should be able to just chill out! That is what I want to do! And I know they both really need that time on the weekends too (ESPECIALLY my daughter). I also know that she isn’t the kind of kid who will ask to do things, and I’d hate for her to be resentful some day that she wasn’t in classes like dance or gymnastics.

  6. My twin sons will be 6 on Friday. They have been riding their two-wheeled bikes without training wheels since before age 5, but they certainly have friends their age who still use training wheels (and my sister, now in her 40s, never learned to ride a bike!).

    Neither of my sons can tie his shoes yet, and I don’t know of any of their age mates who can. They have both expressed an interest in playing the guitar, but they aren’t old enough yet, and I would prefer for them to start with piano (they are somewhat interested in that as well, but not as strongly as guitar). I wouldn’t even consider violin because that’s too much work for us parents and not an instrument with which I’m familiar. (I’m musical and sang and played several different instruments growing up.)

    Despite a couple of years of (expensive) swimming lessons, our sons are at about the level of your daughter with their swimming. We’d like them to be better, since pretty much everyone else we know but us has a backyard pool, but we aren’t pushing the issue.

    My sons have very different interests. One is very into art, and he takes a weekly drawing class. The other has decided he loves basketball and has been playing weekly in a recreational league. They will be both be adding one more activity (gymnastics for Twin A and soccer shots for Twin B) this semester.

    With two working parents, there is truly a limit to what you have time to help your kids pursue. I do believe that they will naturally gravitate toward what interests them most, if given the opportunity.

    1. It’s true that with two working parents it really is hard to get things in… a lot of my friends whose kids do things have people they pay to take them to those things. Maybe I gotta find me one of those people…

  7. I feel like most kids learn to ride a bike at 5-6. I’m really uncoordinated so it took me longer. My son (same age as yours) is too and has some balance issues as well so I’m not expecting this skill to emerge at anytime soon. He has a balance bike and barely touches it. I agree about music lessons — if they were interested they would have asked. And it’s provably worth working on shoe tying with your daughter. I think I mastered that at around 5 or 6.

    I don’t do any activities with my son, other than swimming in the summer. I want to do it again this summer but my husband never wanted to take him and I’ll have a newborn and will be resentful if I have to do take him every week so we will see how this shakes out. He has OT once a week and I’m planning on signing him up for karate maybe. My mother in law asked why I don’t sign him up for soccer or another sport and I wanted to tell her to ask her son to make the arrangements and take him there. I never played a sport. I don’t really feel the need to have him play a team sport that will, at some point, require weekly practice and a weekly game, which I will have to take him to 80% of the time. I guess if he hates karate I’ll give soccer a try.

    1. My husband really wanted our daughter to take a dance class, because she loves to dance around our living room. The fact that she likes to silly-dance in our living room did not seem like a good reason to take her to dance, so I told my husband to look into something he could take her to on the weekends. I think you can guess what happened with dance lessons (absolutely NOTHING – he never even looked into a possible school to see if there were classes he could get her too). He has brought it up MANY times and I always say the same thing and I think it annoys him, but this is something I don’t care about so I guess it’s not happening.

      I am also not super interested in the time commitment of most sports, but I do want them to feel like they can do something athletic. I also think the exercise component gets really important as they get older (we are a long way off from that though). My son does seem to enjoy soccer, and he finds it challenging and struggles to keep trying and then gets excited when he can do something, so he is getting what I hope he would there. He is going to be tall so hopefully some day he’ll want to play basketball (I guess?) My daughter so far has shown NO interest in any sport except swimming, which isn’t really a sport at this point for her. I guess we shall see…

  8. About swimming, I know people who had success doing an intensive 2-3 week swimming program 5 times a week during spring or summer break. My good friend’s 7 year old learned to swim in a program like that, after a few years of weekly lessons in the spring and summer. Maybe I’ll try that this summer?

    1. We had great success with only one week programs when our son was 5 and 6. After the second course he was able to swim 200 meters consequtively (sorry about the brag but I was so proud because he’s usually not the hard-working resilient type) and I literally never had to worry about him in the water again. Not that we left him unattended, but he was/is like a fish.

  9. Where I live the general attitude is that kids should have a lot of free, unscheduled time. While I think it depends on the kid, I would definitely more readily worry about my kids having too many activities than having too few.

    Learning to swim, cycle etc. are of course important, but I think it’s much, much more important that parents are feeling well and not overly stressed. I’ve slowly grown into this parenting philosophy that if something feels really hard, we probably should not do it. I mean in the everyday flow of things, of course some moments are always gonna be hard, but day to day and moment to moment should feel easy.

    My son (he’s 9) really needs a lot of unscheduled time at home and with his friends. He has basketball twice a week (plus a game on some weeks) and programming class once a week. He dropped judo when he started programming and before that he dropped band school when he started judo. A shame, they were nice hobbies, but 3 activities a week plus a game on some weekends is the absolute maximum of scheduled actitivities that I can have him go to with a good conscience. I’d like him to play an instrument but he’s not that excited about music so I’m not gonna force him. My music teacher friend says he can start a band when he’s 13 and still learn to play well enough 🙂 (it’s also clear that he would not be a concert pianist even if we had made him play since he was 2). And programming is the first hobby that he’s really into, so that’s a priority.

    My daughter (3) has no organized hobbies yet. Day care organizes nice stuff, yesterday they had yoga, and they have gymnastic once a week, so I think she’s covered for now. Also don’t want to put her to another group of kids after spending the day in day care, I feel she should relax at home and play with us.

    My kids seem really happy, positive and energetic most of the time, so I think we’re doing fine for now (both my kids have really positive temperaments, I don’t mean that I keep them happy with my superior parenting (hah!), I just mean I think I haven’t messed up their natural happiness with activities/lack of them).

    Also, my son does anything to avoid tying his shoelaces! Actually, I’m not even sure he can do it anymore, it’s been a looong while since I saw him do it.

  10. Hmmm from all these comments I think that shoe-tying may go the way of cursive and using a typewriter? I think kids used to learn it earlier out of necessity because there weren’t really velcro shoes available and if so they were easily picked out as “baby shoes”.

  11. It’s funny that I read this today because I had an absolute breakdown today over the time and energy the kids’ activities are taking. They are in swimming year-round, which is tremendously important to me, and just started week 3 of taekwondo which they’ll do for fucking ever because it’s tremendously important to Brian. So I’m at the pool twice a week (Mon and wed) but for 1.25 hours each time, and at TKD twice a week (Tues and Thurs) for 2 hours each time. And Brian wants them taking violin lessons (BRYSON) and guitar lessons (MATTHEW). Fuck NO. They are doing a FREE 30-minute tennis lesson on Thursdays for the next 10 weeks, which is important to us both because it’s a life sport (like swimming).

    I’m a good sport, but SHIT I’m losing it. And the entire family feels my tension.

    Matthew learned how to tie shoes for like a minute and now can’t again, and he’s close to riding his bike but our street doesn’t encourage safe biking. Bryson rides his balance bike with no fear but won’t get on the peddle bike but the balance bike is now too small. They’re both learning this spring if it’s the last thing I do.

    I apologize for all of the rage in my comment. As I told you this past weekend, I’m in a really pissy mood lately.

    (Your kids are doing just fine and are happy – that’s what matters!)

  12. On the bike thing: both my kids recently took the training wheels off (shortly before turning 5 and 7). My husband handled that, thank goodness. I myself didn’t learn til I was 9 (parents wouldn’t let me have a bike, long story, but were apparently oblivious that I was riding my friend’s bike 1 block over).

  13. For another data point, my just-turned 7 year old can’t tie her shoes either. Just something I haven’t been able to muster up the mental fortitude to dive into – that reminds me that I need to ask my husband if he can be the one to work on it with her…

    My daughter does ride a bike – my husband took the pedals off a bike we had to make it a balance bike so she basically taught herself age 5 or so.

    Activity-wise, my daughter does dance, religious ed, and recently started horseback riding again (this is also something I do which makes it less of a hassle for me to coordinate). She also did soccer in the city rec league this fall for the first time, which she enjoyed. I finally got her into some swim lessons this summer but we definitely need to get her back into it – ugh, the park district lessons in our town never seem to work with what else is on our schedule and fill up quickly.

    Overall, I don’t know how families with 2 FT working parents do it – I work PT which makes things a ton easier. Also, a lot of the things you are feeling pressure to do I think your daughter will do on her own when she’s ready and interested in it. After all there probably aren’t many 20 year olds out there who don’t know how to tie shoes. And maybe your daughter just isn’t someone who is interested in swimming or biking. I can’t swim very well or play an instrument and don’t feel the lack of either ability has held me back at all. I hear you though that it’s tough to know how much to push your kid or not. Currently, getting my daughter to do her 15 minutes of reading practice a day is a huge pain but I feel that is one of the few things that is non-negotiable to me.

  14. My 7 yr old can sort of tie shoes but has zero interest and wants shoes for now without. Getting him and the 5 yr old out the door does not need added stress of waiting for him to slowly tie his shows. That’s how that will stay until he cares more about it.
    We do swimming lessons in the fall and last year I discovered doing 2 weeks/ 4 lessons each week in the summer and it worked great. We don’t do winter swimming now because I don’t like taking them out in the cold weather after.
    My daughter is signed up to do gymnastics once a week on Sat. morning because she really wanted to. And now in winter mode it is the only activity. But we fight about it for half an hour every time before hand. Once she is there she has fun. We will be doing this until the end of June as that is what I paid for.
    My son does basketball once a week for an hour. No games yet so it is perfect.
    I’ve thought about instruments too but neither seem super interested when I’ve mentioned it. Plus my husband is a shift worker so some days/weekends I’m on my own. Until they are older and easier to get out the door we will never do more than two things at once (swimming being one of those).
    My son just learned before winter hit how to ride his bike. We will see how much time it takes to relearn in the spring.
    I think you need to do what works for you and know that there is time still!
    It still feels like work to get them out the door – although in the last year or so it is better. I have found the young kid stage exhausting – more physically than I expected and also in watching them as well. I think we should all cut ourselves some slack!

  15. My kids each have ballet one night a week. My son quit TaeKwonDo in the fall, but wants to play YMCA soccer in the sprintg (one weeknight and one Saturday morning), and I told my daughter she could start TKD in the summer. We don’t bother with instruments – neither of us can play anything, and they’ll have to take either music or choir when they hit middle school anyway (required in our school). They’ll probably take another set of swimming lessons next summer – we did the 3-week intensive at the Y last year, and they both learned a lot, but haven’t passed the free-swim test yet. I think one more round of classes will get them there. They also both love to go to the skating rink, so I end up there for a few hours a couple times a month.

    For what it’s worth, my son learned to ride a bike in one afternoon at my parents’ house — my dad taught him, and we’ll let him teach the girl next summer too 🙂 I am an awful teacher for things like that.

    I’ll make the observation too that being able to get your kids into multiple classes is probably strongly dependent on the relative location of the class to your house. Everything my kids do is within a 10-15 minute drive, which makes scheduling way easier. And I’m able to stack errands because I can drop them at their activity and then take 30 minutes to do what I need to do (run, library, target, quick grocery trip) and still be there to pick them up by the time they are done. Logistics and money are huge factors in being able to do any children’s developmental activities outside of the home.

  16. Our 9 yo is doing coding club at the library for an hour a week plus a once a month community service group (2 hrs a month). She wants violin lessons again (we started when she was 5 & gave up because she wouldn’t practice). She did well in some martial arts program at 3 & 4yo so if we could make that fit into a weekend we would consider it but that’s the maximum we could handle. We both work far away from home so it’s hard to coordinate getting a kid the right place for a weeknight activity.

    The 4 yo is just a happy kid with no structured activities but she had swimming lessons at daycare (!!!) & loved it so we will see if we can make that work again soon. We need to keep things low key so everyone has time to unwind.

    I feel like unstructured time is important and I don’t want to stress us out as parents & keep us in happy by dragging the girls all over creation for brain developing things when they can have an adventure in the yard or walking on a nearby trail,

  17. We are spending the winter currently organized activity free and loving it! We started Isaac in wrestling in September (for the second year in a row), because he loved it so much last year, and that normally runs through February. We ended up pulling him out in November right as the season officially started because the team expanded from 15 kids last year to 53 kids…yikes…and it was just waaaay too much for him to handle that many kids in a tight space three nights a week and then the chaos of matches on weekends, with all the emotions that come when he inevitably loses a match, etc. We normally take a break on swim lessons through the winter also, so it’s been quiet and we like it. We fill the physical activity gap by ice skating weekly ‘ish with homeschooling friends, park days weekly with different homeschooling friends if the weather allows, and indoor trampoline parks or skating rinks if the weather is yucky.
    We tried tae kwon do for six months a couple years ago and at first Isaac (now 6 1/2) loved it, but the instructor didn’t know what to do with boys, and would regularly shame them by making them sit up against the wall in front of the class when they couldn’t sit still. We pulled him outta there pretty quickly. We did tee ball two years in a row (March-June here), but he said this year he wants to try track & field, so we’re gonna give it a go. His OT recommended gymnastics, and he was gung-ho to try it, but I was worried about committing to a gym, paying all the fees for three months, and then him not liking it or being uncooperative in class if he didn’t pick up a skill right away…so we never actually did it. We might still in the future…maybe. Swimming we’ve done since he was three and only take breaks in winter because his lessons are in an outdoor pool. His instructor is a special ed teacher who works with autistic kids and kids with DS, so she is very good at handling Isaac, and she’s also really awesome at teaching kids to swim – he knows how to do a couple strokes now, and has passed the deep water test at our local pool.
    As far as music lessons go, he’s been begging to play the trumpet since he was three, but we’ve been holding off because we’re afraid he’s not quite mature enough. They said as long as he can sit for a half hour lesson, he’s old enough, but I’m not sure we’re there yet. I don’t want to set him up for failure, so we’ll probably wait a little longer.
    He was riding his bike without training wheels right after he turned four, but he wouldn’t touch his balance bike until about 6 months prior to that. Then one day, he picked it up, rode it all the time, asked for a big bike, then asked for the training wheels to be taken off and just went! His personality is such that he won’t do something until he’s ready, but once he’s ready he just kinda skips the preliminaries, lol.
    He still can’t tie his shoe laces, but he’s struggled with fine motor skills and is still at the level of a three year old in that area, so we’re not surprised. He wants to learn, loves shoes with laces, but just can’t quite do it yet.
    We have plenty of unstructured play time, being unschoolers, but I still don’t like to commit us to more than one or two activities at a time. I just don’t like spending weekends at lessons when he could be hanging with his dad, building stuff, playing music at home, spending time as a family, etc.

  18. Totally know I’m 800 years behind, sorry. I literally forced the shoe tying issue when my kinder teacher friend was like my Day… So G and I spent a weekend tying shoe laces and all was good. So far she has had zero interest in a bike and can’t ride one. She has one from 4 years ago that other children ride when they come over to play. She has asked for violin lessons, which cost about $1 a minute and then I died. From 4-6 she took ballet, then requested karate which was literally my only consideration for a ballet replacement (she has such good posture it’s my life goal to support that) and adores it. It’s expensive as fuck and I have to weekly rope my in laws to take her on wed but SO worth it in my eyes. A friend suggested swim team and I was like oh hell no, we do not have time for that. I’d love for her to play an instrument, but rural living and monetary concerns just can’t be ignored. We’re doing the best we can yo.

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