Being a parent is one of the most difficult (yet rewarding) jobs out there, and any parent will tell you that trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle while raising kids is always a challenge. In today’s digital age, it’s sometimes easier to put on an educational cartoon or video game to occupy the kids while you finish the adult duties.
It’s okay, we’ve all been there. However, the importance of not only keeping children active, but yourself as well, can’t be overstated. Below, we’ll go over some tips for fun and easy activities you can do with the kids and keep yourself in tip-top shape.
Keeping Your Kids Active
According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly one in five children and young people (ages 6 to 19 years) in the United States are obese. There are many factors that can contribute to this statistic. Some are genetic, while others, like eating and physical activity, are within the realm of control. Fortunately, there are many easy and fun ways to keep the kids active and channeling their endless amount of energy into something healthy and productive.
One simple way to encourage more physical activity for both you and your children is to limit screen time. Young kids learn from their parents or guardians, and if they see you constantly on your phone or laptop, they will want to do the same.
Limiting screen time applies more to children over the age of 2. There has been recent discussion about the true effect educational screen time has on children under 2. However, if your little one is still a young toddler, it’s never too early to begin strategizing ways to help them develop a physically and mentally healthy relationship with technology.
Exercise with Toddlers
Toddlers have a ton of energy. From the moment they learn to crawl, walk, and run, they are all over the place. Playing with your toddler every day serves two incredibly important purposes:
- It helps them to release some of their seemingly infinite energy.
- Play is crucial for developing necessary motor skills.
Play can be as simple as a game of tag or a creative project, such as utilizing toys or objects with different colors, textures, or sounds. Constantly running after the kids is the most obvious workout a parent can take advantage of, but here are some more creative and entertaining favorites:
- If you have any bubble wrap laying round, try making a bubble wrap road for you and the toddler to hop on.
- Blow up a balloon or two and play balloon badminton, a great chance for both of you to stretch your legs and run.
- Find a small, gentle hill to roll down outside and then climb back up (of course, make sure there are no sharp or rough objects around).
- Set up a mini obstacle course out of cardboard boxes, pillows, and extra linens and race through it.
As a general rule of thumb, toddlers between 12 and 36 months old should have, more or less, 30 minutes of adult-guided physical activity each day, and around an hour of free play, or adult-supervised free play. That gives mom or dad a perfect window of time to throw in some micro-exercise while keeping an eye on the kids nearby.
Exercise with Older Kids
Exercise changes for kids between the ages of 6 and 12 years old. Experts will say that kids should get about an hour of moderate or intense physical activity each day. And luckily, there are tons of ways to make sure both you and your kids meet that marker every day.
Enrolling your kids into intramural sports at school and through private clubs is another great way to get them active. Signing up for a soccer league, gymnastics, or dance class are some of the more traditional types, but there are tons of different classes and camps to choose from. And helping kids with some at-home training is perfect for getting the adults in the house up and moving, too!
The key is to allow your child or preteen some agency; try to figure out what their interests are and tailor some activities to their preferences. Doing this may make your child or preteen more enthusiastic and cooperative with whatever activity you both come up with.
Basics for All Ages
With older children, schools do an excellent job at teaching basic exercises. These are exercises many adults may even remember learning as children themselves, and they are great to do together.
Every day, particularly on weekends, spend some time recapping basic exercises you both learned in elementary school. These can include:
As Michelle Obama has said, “We as parents are our children’s first and best role models, and this is particularly true when it comes to their health.” Developing and maintaining good exercise habits is vital for living healthy, happy lives. And thankfully, working out together is an easy way to start living that way.