Our house is crazy busy on the very quietest of days, three kids will do that naturally. Throw opportunity into the mix and…well let’s just say the schedule whiteboard is colour coded and backed up on a paper calendar in ink!
There are always two questions asked when people see our schedule. How do you find the time? and How do you afford it?
Answer number one is easy. If you remove, or drastically reduce, television, computer time, and video games you are left with a lot of hours to work with. Waiting an extra hour to turn on nightly viewing gives you five extra hours a week! What can you do with 5 hours? Part two of this answer is that we don’t do anything we don’t want to do. Seriously. I might think a saxophone player in the family would be great but not if it means arguing and nagging to get said saxophone prodigy prepared, practiced and dragged into the car for their next lesson. We save a lot of stress and enjoy our time a lot more if everyone is doing what they want.
Answer number two is easy as well. I don’t pay for much. Most everything our family is involved in is either free, nearly free or time traded opportunities. If you think financial restrictions equate to providing less opportunity to your children take a look at this list. I’ve compiled it from my own family schedule board and borrowed ideas from friends and a few other great resources.
- Communities offer days of free skating and swimming, it has also been a great year for outdoor rinks
- Libraries are goldmines of ‘free’ opportunity: books, story hours, author talks, workshops.
- Bookstores and Craft stores hold events at minimal costs.
- Almost everyone offers a ‘free trial class’ wouldn’t you like to know that your son doesn’t enjoy fencing as much as he thought he would before you commit?
- Community center programs are most often taught by volunteers who also offer high priced classes in studios and gyms.
- Follow your local teams and stay in the loop. Our local OHL team routinely hosts opportunities for the public to join them for skating and autographs. Sometimes the events are free, sometimes they ask for foodbank donations.
- Follow your local charities. Charities hold events all the time to generate public awareness. Guest appearances, cake decorating contests, street hockey tournaments, visiting circuses, Nascars, writing contests, art contests, toy drives and free concerts for donations of simple items like food or mittens.
- Win opportunities! Radio stations, online contests, newspapers, local theatres all hold contests for upcoming events.
- Volunteer. My kids have had some great opportunities through volunteering. Find out what your child is interested in and then help them find an opportunity to fit. My oldest daughter is into theatre and F/X make-up, she spent October dressing zombies and terrifying grown-up at the local Scream Park – amazing opportunity!
- Take in everything nature has to offer. There is nothing like a sunny day hike through a new wooded area, an afternoon fishing or catching butterflies. Borrow a canoe and some life jackets – try something new to the whole family. Re-visit your local park and dust off those high school basketball or tennis skills.
- Follow your City website. There are always free movie nights and concerts in the park, free days at heritage homes that are great for kids with a passion for history. Many cities open public buildings for tours.
Don’t overlook church groups, little theatre, museums, senior’s centres, school clubs, neighbourhood associations….. if you look at what your family expresses interest in and make the time available it is quite possible to completely fill your week with very little expense and a whole lot of memorable opportunity!
What have I left off the list, share your favourite ‘Opportunity’, you might spark and idea for someone!