I think the first brochure hit our mailbox in January or so. And soon it was a flurry of brochures, flyers, emails and catalogs.
Day camps and sports leagues. Swim lessons and Lego class.
Our family picked and chose carefully this year, and perhaps it's having a set of older kids and younger kids where we learned our lesson years ago that Rome wasn't built in a day. Likewise, they don't have to do it all in one summer.
Yet, it's still tempting to receive the books and brochures of what they could do, and many times I start getting excited thinking about the possibilities of having them try this or that.
So how do families possibly choose what to do? And better yet, how do you pay for it?
Patch checked in with a couple local families on how they handle summer activities, the scheduling and even the costs. Here's what they had to say.
For the Nielsen family, with their 8th child on the way this summer, choosing summer activities must be done wisely.
"I signed three of our kids [age 8, 6 & 4] up for a Creative Kids Camp where they will each be in their own age appropriate class yet at the same time. My almost 12 year old is taking a babysitting course, my 14 year old will be on the high school trapshooting team. Also, the 8 year old will play baseball [two nights a week]. If there are openings in t-ball, we'll get my 4 year old into that as well," Laura said earlier this week. She also said they have a family vacation planned and that her oldest two daughters will go to a week of Christian camp that they pay for themselves with help from their parents.
"Most of the choices were led by the kids," Laura said, "but I threw ideas out from the book. I wish they could do some of the classes like Robotics but I have to limit what each of the kids does because it gets very expensive."
Also, Laura said her family really likes to have free time to make it to the beach or parks with friends.
Total she estimates their summer extra curricular activities cost under $500. Not bad for a family with seven children.
For the Kephart family in St. Michael, keeping their three children ages 5, 7 and 9 busy this summer is important.
"I think it's good to keep them busy," mom Nikki Kephart said, "and we still make sure to have time for playing with friends and such."
Their activities include twice a week baseball for two of the kids and twice a week soccer for all three. Also, all three kids will be in six weeks of swim lessons.
"They'll swim Monday through Thursday everyday for three sessions. I know it's cheaper to do swim in Monticello once a week but I like the every day and I think they retain it better," Kephart said.
"It's a lot," she said, "but the kids want to play their sports and we view swimming as a life saving skill. We did a lot of this last year with two of the kids but with our youngest joining in this year it's a little bit of new territory."
Total for all three kids extra curriculars she estimates they spend close to $1,000–which she views relatively comparable to other communities.
Finally, there's the Anderson family of St. Michael. With three kids five and under, last summer they decided not to do any activities minus a week of YMCA day camp.
"Last summer we decided to have an 'old fashioned' summer. After a busy school year of waking up early for preschool, ECFE classes, swimming lessons, soccer and dance. We looked at our kids activities budget for the year and decided a great way to save money and slow life down a bit," mom Stacey said.
"Besides the week of YMCA day camp we signed our oldest up for, we had no activities. I was worried a bit, because we usually are a busy family. But we quickly fell in love with the last minute park or pool days and just simply playing outside until the sun went down," she said. "It actually turned out to be our best summer yet!"
In the end, every family is different and what works for some families schedule wise won't work for others and like wise. Every budget is different and every kid, for that matter, has different abilities and desires when it comes to what they want to do.