September 5th, 2008
While we were at the cemetery paying tribute at my mother’s grave site (it’s been 9 years since her passing, I miss her), my 8-year-old nephew started running around with no apparent aim.
His mother and I looked at each other. “Where is he going?”
We nodded with mutual understanding: It doesn’t matter where he’s going. It’s all good as long as he gets some energy out!
Kids today don’t seem to have as much opportunity to get out to play as we used to. I remember picking up my bike and riding to the park or all over town. My mom didn’t worry as long as I came home before dark.
Now it takes some effort for parents to provide a safe environment for their kids to get some energy out. My default mode is sit in front of the computer, and my kids will do the same. They end up with too much energy, and no exercise.Â I have to fight against my sedentary self, and be creative.
Dispense with the yelling to get your kids to sit still, or be quiet. Instead, provide more unstructured time for the kids to get their energy out.
I say unstructured because I see kids getting more stressed than fun with competitive sports teams. Getting exercise does not mean signing up for a league and spending money. Just plain having fun running around stimulates the imagination and promotes fitness.
Here are a few ideas to start off:
1. Spend more time at the park. We paid for it with our taxes, might as well use it.
2. Spend more time outside in the backyard. I used to throw the football around with my brother, and played catch with a baseball and mitts. We had a badminton set and tied the net between two uneven trees! Great memories!
3. Set some fitness goals such as a number of push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, mile-run, etc. Or get a pedometer and set a goal for the number of miles in a month. You can even have a little contest going.
4. Playing jump rope, hulahoop, draw your own hopscotch on the driveway, and handball against the garage door were fun for my kids. A friend of ours set up a tetherball in the yard. That takes a bit of work.
5. Ping Pong is a great activity for older kids. It’s not cheap to buy the table, but it’ll last you a while into the teen years. Better than video games in hand-eye coordination training.
What other ideas do you have for keeping the kids active?