Parenting Through Inflation: When You Can’t Afford The Things Your Kids Love
By Brianna Bell
Photo © paolo_cristaldi/Twenty20
Jul 21, 2022
“Mom, come look!”
I was reading a book outside while my kids played in our yard. They were putting together a gymnastics routine that they had come up with on their own.
I looked up from my novel and saw my daughter, arms a bit shaky, doing a handstand on the yoga mat she had dragged outside.
“Look at you go!” I shouted, hoping my daughter would feel my encouragement and pride at all she’d learned.
An hour later, I sat down on our grassy yard and watched as my kids did stellar round-offs, front walkovers and handstands.
The funny thing is they’ve taken only one session of gymnastics.
First, because of the pandemic, and now because we simply can’t afford to enroll three girls in gymnastics classes — it would cost us more than $1,000 for a fall session for all three.
Money Is Tight
While we would love to support our kids’ passion, with the ever-rising interest rates and high cost of living we simply can’t invest in such an expensive sport.
My husband and I have always encouraged our children — ages 5, 8 and 10 — to try a variety of recreational sports. Our city has plenty of fun programming for very cheap, and we’ve taken advantage of it over the years.
Our kids have enrolled in art, dance, swimming, ukulele and paddle boarding classes, just to name a few.
When the pandemic hit we took a long hiatus from any recreational programming, but after nearly two years we’ve started exploring their interests again.
This last Spring, all of our children decided that they’d really like to try gymnastics.
"Our city has plenty of fun programming for very cheap, and we’ve taken advantage of it over the years."
They learned some simple routines by watching YouTube videos, practiced with friends and received a short introduction during a spring session of mostly tumbling classes.
It wasn’t long before they fell in love and their interests turned into a full-on obsession.
Some days it feels like my oldest two girls spend more time upside down than right side up.
My entire house has turned into a gymnasium, my walls covered in dirty footprints from back walkovers against the wall, pillows littering the floor for cushion and my head throbbing from a couple accidental kicks when kids aren’t looking.
I love that my girls have found something they love and I’m proud of them for their determination to learn a skill when we can’t provide them with actual classes right now.
It hurts that they’ve endured a pandemic and all of the losses that come with it. Now that things are opening up though, it’s simply too expensive to provide them with the experiences that they long for.
The current cost of living simply means that most days I can barely manage to keep our family of five fed, clothed, with a roof over their heads.
I know that we are the lucky ones, because while we can’t afford added expenses, we can currently afford the basics.
"Perhaps that’s all they needed — just a bit of freedom to do exactly what makes them happy."
Meanwhile, food banks are seeing record numbers of people seeking access to food during these precarious financial times.
While I feel consumed with guilt that my kids can’t enroll in gymnastics right now, I’ve found my three girls are far more resilient than I give them credit for.
They’ve hardly complained, and seem just as happy to do flips and jumps outside and all over the house, and perhaps that’s all they needed — just a bit of freedom to do exactly what makes them happy.
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