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Extracurricular Activities For Anti-Commitment Families

A Mehlville mom shares her finds.

I call myself a homebody. My husband laughs at me because I refer to myself that way often, yet am always jumping to fire up the mommy mobile the second I think of a fun place to go. Family outings are my weakness. I can even go to the same St. Louis attraction twice in one week, and once at Gus’s Pretzels, the lady behind the counter said to me, “We see your crew in here a lot!”

Over time, I’ve realized that I'm more of an anti-scheduler.

I’m pretty sure this is a product of being on the young end of six children. Though I wasn’t an over-scheduled kid, I was an over-dragged kid. Even if activities are kept to a minimal level, lots of kids means lots of dragging siblings to meetings and practices.

So, while I jumped in with both feet when minor commitments like marriage and kids were the offers on the table, extracurriculars turn me into a commitment-phobe. I cringe to think of signing up for a nine-month art class for my daughter. I can stare at a flyer for hours, trying to fathom why
anyone would sign up. Every week? For nine months?

For my family, I tend to look for ways for my kids to try things out, without it involving a long-term commitment. A low cost and friendliness to dragged-along siblings are high on my list, too.

For instance, we are currently involved in the Upward Basketball program at Concord Trinity United Methodist Church, located on South Lindbergh across from Ronnie’s Theater. My son plays on the team coached by my husband, and my oldest daughter is in the cheerleading program.

The part this commitment-averse mom loves is that the players and the cheerleaders practice at the same time. Even better, I was able to arrange for my daughter to cheer for the team that my son plays on. The program is only 10 weeks long and nobody said squat at the first practice when my two-year-old took off her shoes and threw them at the cheerleaders. Ahh, a perfect fit for my family.

Another great find for our family is South Side Dance, run by Sarah-Jane Iles. Charging only $20 for a six-week session, little girls can learn dance basics taught by Miss Sarah-Jane, as the girls call their director and teacher.

Miss Sarah-Jane runs the classes, held in the church’s gymnasium, as a way for families to try dance without the big cost and commitment of a traditional studio. While girls definitely pick up more dance skills by attending multiple sessions in a row, there is no requirement to commit for more than six weeks.

An added attraction for our family is the bigger vision Miss Sarah-Jane has for the classes. Because Miss Sarah-Jane and all of her assistants are there on a volunteer basis, the $20 collected from each girl is used to help someone in need.

So far, the dance fund has been used to send a donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, to help a woman down on her luck get a bus ticket to get home to Florida, and to send phone cards and other needed supplies to a dancer’s relative in the military, serving in Afghanistan.

“If a need is bought to our attention we will do what we can. I like to think it is children helping others, enjoying themselves while they do it. Our teenagers devote their time because they have a passion for dance and young children and believe they can inspire others to enjoy dance,” Miss Sarah-Jane said. 

If you too, are a commitment-averse mom who needs some low-key opportunities for your kids, without signing the next year of your life away, give one of these programs a try.

South Side Dance meets in South Side Church of God, located at 12145 Tesson Ferry Road. You can also email Sarah-Jane Iles at ilesinternet@sbcglobal.net.

For more information about Upward Basketball at Concord Trinity, go to www.concordtrinity.org.

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