Family Time: Get Active

Get out and about

It is no secret that our lives are busier than ever these days. The world of instant everything means that rushing around to fulfil our every whim is usually done at breakneck speed with little time left to enjoy the simpler things in life. You may be used to strapping your tot into her stroller, buckling your pre-schooler into his car seat or carrying them around as you rush from pillar to post. This all translates into less mobility for your children and a less enjoyable form of activity for all. This doesn’t help anyone when it comes to getting active and enjoying your outings.

When you're less pressed for time, let your children roam around at their leisure with you by their side. Simply heading out doors promotes exercise and you’ll soon find that you are all actively taking part in various healthy outdoor interests that get your heart pumping. Simple exercise such as playing tag, mastering the climbing frames, pushing each other on swing sets and bending over to tie shoe laces can help to keep us all fit and active.

Think about being at home for a minute, stuck in doors where your children are not able to run, hop, climb, jump, shout, kick a ball or hop up onto furniture. The rules of indoor play carry numerous admonitions; not much fun for anyone. Outdoors your children can let off steam and you can chase them about, getting some exercise for yourself and providing your children with the attention and family interaction that they crave.

The weather can play a big part in where and how you exercise. Sometimes weeks of rain or miserable weather make it difficult to enjoy the normal park life activities another fun family activity can be to sit together and plan your outdoor experiences, get creative and ask your children for their ideas - what they would like to do outdoors, even if it is miserable.

Surf the web looking for some fun outdoor activities in your area or if you’re happy to take outings further afield then expand your search to increase the possibilities. A scavenger hunt or detective mission ending with a cup of hot chocolate somewhere warm and toasty can be a very exciting prospect on an otherwise dull or rainy afternoon. Slip on your wellies, coats and hats, grab your goodies and head off for a walk about with a difference.

If you’re not excited by a trip to your own local playground, take a trip to the beach or a nearby lake. Anything that gets you out and about will be sure to get you active while having fun. If time permits and a clear evening presents itself, wrap up and head out for a stroll in the dark to spot the stars or for a look at the neighbourhood all lit up at night. Children love these spontaneous suggestions and will be thrilled at the idea of delaying the bedtime routine.

Beat the blues

When getting out and about seems almost impossible – perhaps it’s been raining for days and its too unbearable; perhaps you have a sick child or you have to wait in for a delivery, don’t worry – you can still get active and have fun some family fun in the process. If you don’t have one of the popular gaming consoles that offer interactive family sporting games or similar, grab the rattles, toy instruments and dress up clothes and crank up the radio.

This will be great fun for everyone – the music needn’t be a selection from your toddlers nursery rhyme collection, anything with a beat will do and before you know it, you’ll all be shaking what your mama gave you from room to room! This is a great way to get rid of that pent up energy your toddler has been threatening to release as a stormy tantrum. You’ll all burn calories and have fun as you do. This can easily be turned into a fun game such as musical statues, Simon says or incorporate some house chores as you go, changing the task or having a rest every time a song ends.

Do it together

As a parent, you’re already aware that your words model your child’s behaviour, the same is true for your actions. If you exercise and show your children that you can have fun while you do, your child is far more likely to show an interest in physical exercise and fitness as they grow older. Show your child that it’s fun to be active and creative in your spare time, this will help them to continue on that road as they mature.

Walk the walk! Take every opportunity to walk. If you can park further away or walk to the shops instead of driving, this too will help your child to have the same mind-set as they move into their teenage years and later on into adulthood. If your child is young and often struggles to walk or wants to be carried, take a firm approach to walking but take your time and rest along the way with no carrying or picking up as long as the walk is appropriate for their age. Build on the distance over time.

Friends in action

Meet up with other parents who have children of a similar age. This may be on the walk to school, a trip to the local park or a bike ride at a favourite location. Children are more likely to participate in activities willingly if their buddies are along for the adventure. Activity classes are everywhere, so if you don’t mind shelling out for the pleasure of joining in, these can be a great way of getting active with your child and enjoying some quality time together.

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