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Here's How Much I Spent on My Daughters' Summer Activities

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Raising a child supposedly costs you a quarter of a million dollars, but it can honestly be more daunting to face the idea of spending $80 on bottle nipples in a single month. Expense Report gives us a look into the spending, scrimping, and wishing that defines parenthood, from what moms spend on birthdays, to childcare, to sleep, to self-care (we wish!), and beyond.

As a family we were all looking forward to the start of summer. No more packing lunches or attempting to get two small children out the door in time for the first school bell to ring. No more homework packets or reading logs, teacher-parent conferences or evening educational workshops. We were free!

Although lounging at home all day sounded like the ideal scenario for my 5- and 3-year-old, anyone raising kids knows that the peace and serenity lasts only so long before the kids get bored and start whining. Which is why I set out to enroll my girls in everything and any type of summer activities that they showed an interest in.

Family: A mom and dad in their 30s

Location: Southern California

Annual Family Income: $150,000

Number of Children: Two; a 3-year-old and 5-year-old

We limit the number of activities the girls participate in during the school year since working full-time, managing homework and extracurricular activities is exhausting. However, the summer is an opportunity for diving into all those classes my girls have shown interest in during that school year that either conflicted with school/work schedules or would have been too time consuming.

Before signing my kids up for classes I gave them a few activities to choose from before narrowing down the list to the ones we ultimately selected. And my mom played an active part in deciding which camps and classes the girls would attend since they are with her all day, and she would be the one driving them to the majority of these activities.

Dance Classes (3 months): $360

During the school year, both girls are enrolled in one dance class each at the local Boys & Girls Club. My 5-year-old tacked on an extra dance class (folklorico) at the end of May since her sports class ended and we like to keep them in two classes each during the busy school season. Both girls are enrolled in pre-school ballet during the school year, which is held on Saturdays and works with our schedule.

By the end of June the number of dance classes jumped to three for my 5-year-old since the girls had plenty of free time. After trying out tap and hip hop, she asked to take jazz class, which she absolutely loves. My youngest showed no interest in taking another dance class so she just stuck to her Saturday dance class.

At first I was worried that three dance classes (jazz, ballet and folkorico) would be too much for her, but my mom reassured me that she was excited about going to class, and participated without a problem. Since they are held on days that don’t conflict with swimming or other dance classes, it all worked out well. Plus this was an opportunity for my daughter to figure out what classed she wants to continue with during the fall.

Since I taught swim lessons at the YMCA for several years while in high school and college, I felt confident about enrolling them in lessons twice a week at the local Y.

Swim Lessons (2 months): $160.00

Last summer, my girls were only in swimming and dance, as the majority of their time was spent in private swimming lessons. And the money we spent on those lessons was enough to make us not want to spend money on any other extracurricular due to the expense. Plus those lessons were an hour long, Monday through Friday. To say it was a commitment is an understatement. It was pure stress and anxiety. The girls enjoyed swimming in the pool when they were in the water, but they put up a fight just to get there. The teachers were good but strict and honestly my girls were not thrilled with the overall experience.

So when it came to figuring out where to register them for swim lessons I turned to community lessons and the YMCA. Since I taught swim lessons at the YMCA for several years while in high school and college, I felt confident about enrolling them in lessons twice a week at the local Y. (Do you know how frustrating it is to have taught swimming for more than six years and not be able to get your kids to take you seriously as a swim instructor?)

The girls actually enjoyed their swim lessons and their teachers. They love to show off their accomplishments when we swim in our pool and do not put up a fight when it’s time for swim lessons. It’s such a relief to know they are actually enjoying swimming and not dreading it.

Vacation Bible School (1 week): $80.00

Our church holds Vacation Bible School (VBS) every summer and my youngest daughter was finally old enough to attend, making this the summer I could finally enroll both girls in the program. One drop off + one pick up = sign this mama up!

For three hours during the last week of June, the girls spent a morning learning about their faith, playing with giant bubbles and putty, and just having fun with new friends. They actually asked me to sign them up for more days, which I totally would have if VBS ran more than a week.

My eldest daughter has been begging me to put her in commercials. First of all, um no.

Theater Camp (2 weeks) $150.00

My eldest daughter has been begging me to put her in commercials. First of all, um no. I don’t have time to take her to auditions and I have no interest in trying to get her on TV. Of course I want to support her passions, which is why when I heard that the Boys & Girls Club was holding a two-week Aladdin Theater Camp I immediately signed her up.

I was worried that she would feel out of place since she is one of the youngest in the camp but once again she’s shown me that I need to calm the freak down. She loves it! Every night she comes home asking me to practice her lines, and play the CD so she can practice the songs and dance moves. Since she was cast as Abu, there are literally no words to learn (thank god!) but plenty of dances that need to be practiced.

Total Cost of Summer Activities: $750

My girls had a fantastic summer. I know this because they tell me how much they love their classes and the friends they’ve made. I did not set a budget for the summer activities so I don’t feel that the amount spent was anything overwhelming.

They spent this summer trying out new things and breaking out of their comfort zones, and genuinely enjoyed the classes they selected. Of course my eldest daughter was able to select more than her sister given age restrictions, but I’m excited to let her choose her own classes in a few years. Now that summer is winding down they are able to pick two classes each and they already know that they want to do: jazz and theater class for my 5-year-old; ballet and sports class for my 3-year-old. Summers are meant for fun and that’s exactly what my girls did this summer: had fun. Even if that meant spending more than we typically spend on activities during the school year.