As a parent of almost 9-year-old twins, I’ve been thinking a bit about what activities we’ve paid for that have been worth their cost. I’ve been playing a little game where I ask myself if I had to do it over how much would I be willing to pay to have our children obtain a particular skill.
My filter for such a list is as follows:
- Will this skill be useful throughout their life?
- Will this skill be more difficult (and potentially more costly) to obtain at a later age?
- Is this skill best taught by someone else?
Below is a list of my top 3 best buys. Our involvement in these as parents has been pretty minimal other than opening our wallets and schlepping them to the activity. I’m also coming at this from a perspective of dual-working parents. As a soon-to-be stay at home dad, I’d consider taking these on myself in lieu of the expense.**
** Where it makes sense. Does any one else have kids that listen and trust complete strangers more than you when it comes to learning something new?
#1 – Learn to Swim
At the top of the list is definitely swim lessons. I estimate we paid about $1,500 total per kid learning to swim over the course of a three-year period starting around age 3. This meant by the time they were 5, they could accidentally slip into the deep end of a pool and be able to get themselves out.
If we lived in a location that had more than 3 months of summer and every other house on the block had a pool, I can see where this may not be needed and could be obtained without the need for formal lessons.
#2 – Learn to Ski/Skate
In our neck of the woods, it’s imperative to embrace winter and find ways to get out in it. Otherwise it can hole you up for months at a time and really get depressing.
This is why we haven’t been shy about providing ski and ice skating lessons for our kids. And we started early. It’s paid off handsomely since this winter we’ve spent many an afternoon on both indoor and outdoor rinks.
We only made it out to the slopes once this winter (last weekend), but because our boys had a solid foundational knowledge for skiing, they were able to take the chair lifts and ski with their buddies completely on their own while the Mrs. and I were able to sip Bloody Marys in the local lodge bar. With these skills, our kids have gained a level of independence that they otherwise would not have.
#3 – Become Fluent in a Foreign Language
Let’s suppose you had two kids and you wanted them to speak a second language, specifically one of the romance languages, in one year’s time. What amount of money would you be willing to spend to make that happen provided they had zero background in the language to begin with?
How about $44,000?
What if I told you it would be certain to happen provided you immerse your kids in the language while in public school in the European country of your choice?
And beyond that, you could join them and the cost includes all room and board for your entire family?
Oh, and you all get to experience the sights, take in the new culture, and partake in a boatload of fun activities together as a family?
This is exactly what the Wagoners did and here they sit with two proficient Spanish speakers.
While I’m not entirely sure our expenses will be as low, I’m chalking up our upcoming adventure as the cost needed to gain this particular skill.
How about you?
Is there any skill that you have essentially ‘bought’ for yourself or a child that you look back at now and say “yeah, that was totally worth it”? What price would you pay to learn an inherent skill and which skill would it be?