The dance tights and the bottomless cheque book

As I came close to cracking under the sheer pressure of June and all I have to organise, my daughter announced that she needed some footless dance tights for the show. Footless dance tights are not something you can pick up in Sainsburys (my preferred option for most things I buy), they have to come from a specialist retailer. Now, I could have gone to the specialist retailer in town, but what if they didn’t have them? And going to town is a time-consuming business when you’re up against it, so I ordered them online. They were £3.95 and cost as much again for delivery. So that’s eight quid for a pair of tights she will wear for a dress rehearsal and two performances.

The boys looked at the tights in disdain. ‘Did she pay for those herself?’ they asked me in an accusing voice.

‘No she didn’t, because they’re dance uniform. I don’t make you pay for your own football kit, do I?’

But they got me thinking. Dancing is like a bottomless pit of money. The lessons are way more expensive than football or rugby and there seems to be endless kit requirements (although currently she is wearing borrowed ballet and character shoes and second-hand tap shoes).

Should she have paid for the tights herself?

A couple of months back, my son asked me for hair gel. I refused to buy it for him. It was non-essential and he had to buy it himself. I buy shampoo and soap and school shoes. I don’t buy hair gel. If my daughter wants new hairbands, she buys them herself, so it’s only fair. Needless to say, he never bought any hair gel.

But are dance tights more important than hair gel? Do I spend more on my daughter than on the boys?

This autumn my daughter will be doing her Grade 1 in both ballet and tap. I’m trying not to think about it too much, but each exam is going to cost just over £80, taking into account the actual exam costs plus extra lesson time. That’s a lot of money, on top of the usual cost of four dance classes a week plus kit.

And then I looked at the pile of letters that had come home from Scouts and realised I’m not favouring my daughter after all. My boys did two Scout camps each in June. They both want to go on two more camps this summer, including a week-long camp costing £120. Each. Now £120 isn’t bad for a week, but 120 quid is still 120 quid. (Well, it’s actually 240 quid in our case.)

It seems that my kids believe I have a bottomless cheque book (and maybe I do too). We want them to have the very best experiences and make the most of their childhood, but that doesn’t come cheap.

The footless dance tights are a drop in the ocean.

 

 

 

Author: Sarah Mummy

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34 Comments

  1. Wow kids stuff is expensive isn’t it? It’s the dance exam I thought was really pricey especially as I guess it’s the same panel of judges assessing kids one by one? You’ve just given me a vision of things to come 🙂

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    • Yes, the cost of the dance exam is shocking! It’s about £46 for the exam itself and then the remainder of the cost is about six extra lessons to get ready for the exam. From a cost point of view, it’s unfortunate that two have fallen at the same time, although it will be two years since she last did an exam so that’s not too bad.

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  2. I have all of this to come. You’ve made me realise just how expensive all those lessons and clubs are. It’s not just the termly fees is it. I think it’s something we all have to find a point which we can afford and are comfortable with. I’m daunted, to be honest, about managing all these costs. I remember as a child desperately wanting to do ballet, swimming, gym, tap etc. I had no concept of the cost of things then. I guess it’s hard but we have to teach our children what we can about the cost of things! Brilliant post lovely xx

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    • Thanks very much! My kids have all done swimming too – we had eight and a half years with at least one of them at swimming. It’s hard to know what’s important, but I think the kids do enough now. If they want to take anything else on, they will have to let something go.

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  3. I am constantly questioning myself over this but as I always offer them the same opportunities – perhaps ask your boys if they want to do dance?! Music is incredibly expensive too. One term of piano and flute lessons is £400 and that doesn’t take into account the £50 exam that she does twice a year – almost £1500 per year! But for me it’s worth it. Exploring your creativity is priceless in my opinion. x PS I wouldn’t pay for hair gel either!

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    • Wow, the music is expensive! I’m currently paying £70 a term for eldest and £45 each for younger two. Husband doesn’t want the boys to dance (younger son was briefly tempted), it’s not that he’s being sexist, it’s just that they already have too much on. They can’t do it all! My daughter doesn’t do anything ‘uniformed’ as she’s too busy with dancing.
      (Glad you wouldn’t pay for hair gel!)

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  4. Oh wow that really is a lot to pay out for you’ve got there!! This post has given me a huge flashback to my poor mum and the bottomless cheque book I assumed she had. It’s also given me a look to the future and the bottomless cheque book my son will assume I have…..eeek!!!!

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    • I didn’t do nearly as many activities when I was a kid, but I know I wasn’t aware of the ones I did do. Not all families do as many as our family does, but a lot of them do!

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  5. Kids activities are so expensive….I’m lucky my girls are not involved in any at the moment….I have asked them if they want to go to Brownies or dancing but they are not too bothered….Phew! I’m rather glad with those prices.

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    • That’s lucky! Brownies would be a lot cheaper than dancing, that’s for sure!

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  6. I totally get it, some months we overdraw and when I look it’s just one cheque after another that I’ve written for the kids’ activities. I do wonder if they do too much, but then they want to do it, and their friends all do.nitsnsuch a balancing act!

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    • Glad it’s not just me! I think my kids do more than some kids – I certainly don’t know any other girls who do four dance classes a week. It’s worse for us because there’s three of them so everything is multiplied.

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  7. I feel your pain. It’s hard keeping up with all the expenses and I don’t like it when the kids assume the money is never ending. This year my oldest starts college, so we are about to experience that expense…scary 🙂 sounds like you are helping your kids strike a balance with paying for some things themselves. #sharewithme

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    • Wow, that will be expensive! Good luck with that. Thanks, I like to think we’re trying to strike a balance, but it’s not always easy.

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  8. WOW!!! Thank goodness I’ve only got one, however, it is scary how much money we spend keeping the boy in Haribo though…………………. Great post and love your reasoning and that you’re teaching your kids the value of money by making them buy their non-essentials. #sharewithme

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    • Thanks very much 🙂 Hair gel is most definitely non-essential in my view!

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  9. Grace says – I go horseriding and I am very grateful to Mummy for paying for it as I love it so much. I reckon your kids are just as thankful as they clearly love their hobbies. Good Luck to your daughter for her dance exam xxx #sharewithme

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    • Thanks very much, Grace! Glad you love your horse riding 🙂

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  10. I am constantly asking myself this all the time too. Its hard to draw a line between necessary and want and just plain spoiling. Finding balance and being fair to boys and girls too. As I have one of each. Love this and it’s a great insight into whats to come when mine get older. Thanks for linking up to #ShareWithMe

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    • Thanks very much! It might be easier with just one of each. You might find they want to do the same activities, because there’s no ‘boys’ activities’ and ‘girls’ activities’ any more – boys can dance, girls can do Scouts etc.

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  11. I remember those days well. Both my girls did ballet, tap and modern in town costing about £350 a term, plus kit and exams and shows. They also did kungfu twice a week each costing £100 a month, and swimming lessons around £60 a term each. It was very busy and expensive for a few years! But Abi dropped dance when she went up to seniors, and my other daughter did too. Sadly kungfu cancelled itself after she died and other got her black belt. Was weird not having anywhere to go! Abi used to be our social life really as she was into everything and I was forever getting her from A to B and waiting ages for lessons to finish. It all stopped when she died. But it’s also nice to have less on, though we believe out of school clubs are so important. Our children will know lots of children at secondary school when they go up. It all helps to build networks and confidence. We now spend hundreds a month on daughter’s horse riding lessons but it’s been so beneficial to her. Thankfully son’s football costs around £4 a week but we treat him in other ways with Lego etc. It’s certainly an incentive to keep working!

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    • Wow, that was expensive! It’s kind of reassuring to know we’re not the only ones spending this sort of money. Since I wrote the post, the boys have come home with a letter about a Scout camp in Holland costing £550 each! Daddy isn’t keen on spending that sort of money, but I don’t want to hold them back.
      Glad your daughter has found a love of horse riding and it’s been so positive for her.

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  12. Wow it is so expensive. I started my 3 yo at ballet and, after reading that may stop haha. You only have to leave the door now to spend something 🙁 buy a lottery ticket x

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    • It’s not so bad while it’s just one child doing ballet, but it adds up when they start doing tap and swimming and everything else. Just enjoy it, it’s a great experience for them!

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  13. Yes, yes and yes! It mounts up so quickly. Brownie’s here. Uniform, trips, weekly sessions and then follows the things she MUST have because everyone else has them. The littlest one was going to dance for a while too. Before that is was football classes for months, again kit, cost of classes. It really is never ending and I still have two to follow in her very expensive footsteps! lol x

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  14. Oh my!! Ive just taken a rather big ‘gulp’ of sheer realisation of things to come!!! I think I had batter start saving now for all the activities mine will most likely want to do when they get a little older! Although H is already horse riding aged 3 – hmmm, not cheap – may have to rethink that little hobby!!

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  15. Kids stuff for things like this costs the EARTH! And it breaks my heart as to why. Because these companies KNOW we have to pay them for our children to take part. Cheeky! But it’s good for them {on the flip side} and worth every penny. My two younger children are in Ju Jitsu and the rate they grow, BOTH of them need new gee’s and SOON! Any know where I can sell a kidney? lol x

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  16. Part of me feels bad that L doesn’t ever want to stick to an activity, but I do feel a slight rush of relief at that having read your blog post. It’s so hard to know what the right thing to do is, and balancing siblings just adds to the complications!
    #BrilliantBlogPosts

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  17. Aargh! Better start saving up now I reckon… Just when you think you are suddenly doing really well by saving all that money you spend on pre-school childcare all this kicks in! Thank god I don’t have a daughter is all I can say! 🙂 X #sharewithme

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  18. I know this feeling, especially with my little 2. At the minute my I am reviewing a boys toy for my son, whoo my daughter is not happy even though she has had some lovely things before..

    Thanks for linking up to the weekend blog hop..

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  19. Know the feeling re dance clothes – K’s dance tights were £10 EEEK! #BrilliantBlogPosts

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  20. Gosh I had better start saving then hadn’t I!!! I actually find it really lovely that you are so concerned with whether you are favouring one child over the other. Growing up I felt very much like my brother was favoured and my mum will admit now that was the case when we were little. So well done for trying to be as even as possible! xx #Weekendbloghop

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  21. Oh tell me about it!! I despair at the amount of money that goes out on clubs, trips and kit, it is a nightmare. Like you I want them to have the best experiences and to do all of these clubs but we need a second mortgage to pay for it all.

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  22. Wow, all these extra costs to look forward to! Eek! Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts Please do link back or add my badge if you haven’t elsewhere on your blog. Cheers

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