New Year’s has come and gone. Maybe you decided this year was the year you were finally going to:
– lose all that stubborn baby weight
– kick your Diet Coke addiction
– utilize that gym membership you pay for each month
– [insert other good intentioned fitness goal here]
Whenever we think about fitness and exercise, it tends to be “me” centered. But have you considered how to factor in the whole family’s health at the same time? Have you wondered how you can get active with your kids?
Sometimes being active with your kids (or maybe not so active) is a choice. and sometimes you just need some ideas.
Here are 9 ways you can choose to be active with your kids:
1. Create Challenges
Who doesn’t love a good challenge? Even the least competitive people (ehem *pointing at myself*) like to have goals and challenges. It gives us something to look forward to. Your kids are the same way. Look for age-appropriate goals for you to accomplish together. Examples of goals could be:
- Go for a family walk 4x this week.
- Do 50 sit-ups each day before bed together.
- Do 25 jumping jacks before school.
- Walk 6,000 steps each day. (This one is especially fun if you have something like the FitBit for each member of the family.)
Let your kids take ownership and come up with their own goals for the family. (You might find they are better at keeping everyone accountable with this one!)
2. Let Them Participate
How many times do you wait until the kids have gone to bed for you to do your workout? Or maybe you get up early before everyone else wakes up. If you are like me, you tend to compartmentalize your exercise time. (Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you need that time for yourself…and by all means take it!) But many times, the activities I do are kid-friendly and would be great for my daughter to do along with me.
My husband recently started taking our daughter to the indoor track at our gym. Rather than walk on the treadmill (where kids aren’t allowed), he walks with her on the track during family hours. They do laps and sprints, and just enjoy being together. I love that this emphasizes the importance of taking care of your body, while also building into their relationship.
Be active with your kids by letting them participate in your exercise activities. Let them know that “exercising” isn’t just for adults.
Dance party anyone? If you look through our kitchen window at dinner time, you will probably see a dance party going on. And yes, that includes the whole family – Daddy, Mommy, preschooler, toddler, and baby. I am not a dancer; however, a dance party with my kids makes me let loose and dance without shame. Make up some silly moves and your kids will be howling in laughter. (And they say laughing burns a ton of calories right? Win-Win!)
4. Give Them Control
Whenever your kids get to make decisions, they tend to take more ownership and the motivation levels go up. Let your kids decide what your activity will be for the day. Let them pick what hike you will go on, what park to play at, which exercise video you’ll do, or what song you will dance to. Your preschooler will learn some responsibility for following through with their proposal. Your older children will enjoy the freedom of autonomy. Let go of your desire to control and let your kids lead you in your next exercise time!
5. Get Outside
My kids always want to play outside. But if I play back the record of my responses, you will likely hear “It’s too cold out” or “It’s too hot right now” or “The mosquitos are really bad” or another chosen excuse of the hour. But when it comes down to it…are those really valid reasons? Usually it comes down to me being lazy and not wanting to do what it takes to have weather-appropriate fun outdoors.
6. Don’t Let the Weather Be an Excuse to Stay Indoors
If it’s cold outside, bundle up! And don’t just stand off to the side…get active with your kids! Have a snowball fight. Help them build the.best.snowman.EVER. Pull them on the sled. And yes you can call that exercise!
If it’s hot out, set out the hose and play in the water. Prepare some water balloons and have a balloon fight. And for those pesky mosquitos, try some different bug sprays and see if that alleviates them at all…(I know sometimes they just can’t be avoided, but at least give it a whirl.)
No matter what the weather, you can prepare yourself with the tools and clothing needed to enjoy some fresh air and activity outdoors. My kids move and explore more when they play outside. It activates their imaginations and gets them thinking in new ways. Open up the doors and see what you can find.
7. Get On Their Level (Literally)
Especially if you have little kids, our tendency is to let them play on the ground while we sit on the couch or chair. Get active with your kids by getting down on their level and sitting on the ground. Crawl around with them. Lay on the ground and let them crawl over you. Do push ups with your newborn laying next to you. Do sit ups with them sitting on your legs. Play “Ring Around the Rosey” and actually fall ALL the way down…not just a little squat while your toddler goes full on down to the ground. (Common, I know you do it too!)
When you get down at their level, you engage in activities with your kid, in their world and on their terms. Try it and have some fun!
8. Google or Pinterest It
Too tired to even think about how to be active with your kids? Lacking a creative spark? Want some fresh ideas? Look on Pinterest for “outdoor activities with kids” or “exercising with kids.” A lot of doable activities exist. (Be careful not to get pulled into the Pinterest vortex and forget what you were actually searching for!)
9. Just Do It!
Essentially, when it comes down to it, you have to decide to be active with your kids. Put down the phone, stop doing chores, and live in the moment. Yes, you are tired (nay….exhausted), but activity breeds energy and doing activities with your children will end up giving you a boost of energy for the long run. Get past the mental block that you are too tired or too busy, because that can always be an excuse. Just do it. Have fun. And make lasting (and healthy) memories with your kids.
How do you get active with your kids?