Do the rest of you moms and dads dream about what it would be like to be a parent in a world where our streets were safe and we could let our children run freely through the neighborhood like we did as kids?
I remember when I was a kid we had a field and a woods in back of our house and we spent the entire day either in the field or the woods exploring. What great natural exercise this was for us, yet we saw it as nothing more than play.
What I found when bringing up our own kids is that I would hear the car door slam and then a few seconds later, I would hear their backpacks drop on the floor. Before I knew it, the TV was being switched on and the last few hours of daylight disappeared as they sat playing video games and ate processed snack foods.
I think most moms probably feel the same way I used to when it came to getting my kids to exercise. I found it a challenge to compete with all the marketing strategies for video games and shows and the their desire for instant gratification.
I found that exercise and carrot sticks took last place when they had to compete with SpongeBob, Xboxes and potato chips. Little did I know that the percent of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980.
I became worried about my kids sitting inside so much and did some research. I was surprised when I found that the American Heart Association recommended that children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.
I became ever more concerned when I discovered that the percentage of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980 (CDC). Although my kids were not obese I sure did not want them becoming obese!
Here are some ideas I came up with to get my kids to exercise buy yet have fun at the same time.
Be a Role Model
If you don’t look after your own health and stay active, your kids will follow you and not exercise either. You need to set a good example for your kids, especially your younger ones.
Make it fun
Whatever you do, be spontaneous and make exercise fun. I remember putting on some music and dancing with the kids. Or sometimes we would play tag or roller blade.
I also made sure my kids had toys that encouraged them to be active, yet have fun. My kids loved toys such as the pogo sticks I bought them. I also found that scooters, bikes and baseball bats got my kids moving and, lo and behold, they had a wonderful time. What more could a mother ask?
Do it together
If you are like me time is something you don’t have a lot of. To increase the amount of quality time I spent with my kids while at the same increasing their active time, I started exercising and playing with them. I figured since my kids can’t be alone roaming the neighborhood why not join them when they go out.
Of course, we need to limit the time our kids watch TV and play video games. I only allow screen time during designated hours, after their homework is done and after they have spent some time outside or at least playing in the basement.
Cheer them on
I found that positive reinforcements, encouragement and support helped my children. I also made sure that we found them sports and activities that built their self-esteem. We also made sure to attend their sporting events and to praise them, win or lose.