It’s Never Too Soon to Learn About Life Balance
I was always baffled when the parents of older kids talked about how expensive kids are. I understood that older kids ate more than my own toddler son, but without the killer daycare expenses, I figured kids got cheaper after preschool.
Then I got a flyer in the mail. The flyer advertised a $475 weeklong hockey camp for kids aged seven to 12. My husband took one look and said, “I think Kenny will play right wing, don’t you?” His comment barely registered. I could not comprehend the price tag.
The cost of a one-week hockey camp is the same price as two credits at the nearby state university.
With price tags like this, how will we support our children’s outdoor activities and, at the same time, save money for them to attend college? To be honest, my husband and I don’t have a satisfactory answer.
My parents spent a lot of money on activities for me as a kid. I was involved in basketball leagues, tennis lessons and tournaments, and track. I craved the opportunity to excel under pressure and to indulge my passion for winning.
As a young athlete, I learned about goal setting, strategy, teamwork, work ethic, and discipline. I learned how to lead a team and how to work smarter instead of harder. These are lessons that carried me through more than 14 U basketball tournaments or Division I track meets. I carry these lessons with me every day I go to work; they serve me as I build my career and as I care for my family.
The lessons I learned from intense engagement in sports are lessons that may not have been forged any other way, but they came with a huge price tag
However, while my parents spent huge sums on me, and pushed me to succeed, they also skipped the opportunity to let me appreciate the value of life’s simpler pleasures. To this day, I have to consciously remind myself to relax and enjoy each day.
My husband wasn’t involved in many activities throughout his childhood. Outside of a single season of cross country, he never played organized sports.
His parents emphasized family time. They taught him to value simplicity and beauty in nature on hiking and canoe trips. My husband learned about thrift and self-reliance when he created heirloom furniture with his dad; their materials were often picked from the trash.
My husband’s family led a slower-paced life that enabled them to save money and send their kids to college debt free. These values stuck with my husband for life. He is forever pointing out the beauty around us, and he has the confidence to tackle any task.
The debt-free college experience was a huge asset for my husband, but it was not without costs of its own.
After graduation, my husband’s values didn’t align with the values of the marketplace, and he spent years as an underearner before he established a career foothold. Even with increased ambition and skills, career management has never been easy for my husband.
In most areas of life, my husband and I seek to balance each other out. He gets me to look at sunsets, and I get him to attend networking events. He teaches our son about the flora and fauna in our yard, and I teach our son how to win races.
For right now, my husband and I have chosen a simpler life that we hope, will lead us into future financial security.
And no, we’re not signing our son up for toddler tumblers or little kickers soccer camps (and definitely not $475 hockey camps), but we’re reserving the right to change our minds!