Fast forward to today - the majority of kids after-school activities tend to center around technology. Computers, texting, messaging on Facebook, talking on the cell phone, playing video games, using the iPad, etc. have taken over the once-active childhood existence. Most involve sitting or even lying on the couch. Unless your child is majorly involved in sports activities, they are most likely NOT getting enough exercise.
Also, there is a growing concern that kids are missing out on a vital component of sensory exploration and health through a lack of outdoor exposure. I understand that there is a also an increased concern about kids being outdoors alone, but if they are able to be outdoors with supervision, this is so important to well-rounded development and occupational exploration.
Here are some great ways to bundle up, get outside and move. Some involve fitness, some involve family time, some involve both - but all can be perfect ways to make family memories and facilitate bonding. Not all of these will work for everyone, but find one or two to add to your winter routine and your kids will thank you later.
- Stepping outdoors to take a walk during the sunrise or sunset
- Ice skating at your local rink
- Cutting your own Christmas tree
- Organizing an informal winter talent show in your neighborhood
- Take an after dinner walk and look for leaves and berries to glue to homemade Christmas cards
- Technology can be a good things - research the birds in your area and go on a nature walk through the neighbor to see if you can spot any
- Go Christmas caroling
- Walk through a festival of lights
- Take family walks after family dinners (family dinner time has been shown to prevent obesity and has many other advantages that translate into better parent-child relationships during the teenage years)
- Build a snowman
- Play freeze tag or other games that involve running (running = warmth!!) in the park or in your yard
- Find a place where you can make a campfire and tell stories about the outdoor activities you loved when you were a kid
- Combine the last two - find a park where you can play games and build a fire
- Teach your kids to draw hopscotch on the sidewalk with chalk and have a snowman/tree/holiday drawing contest
- Go out to look at the winter clouds and (with younger kids) try blowing puffs in the air that resemble the clouds
- Get a low-fat hot chocolate and walk around a safe part of your downtown area to look at the lights and trees
- Go outside and have a contest to see who can get warm the fastest. Everyone pick your own exercise: jumping jacks, running, skipping, etc and GO!
Stay tuned for tomorrow's post, which is a run-down on why childhood obesity matter. I have some great information on stats, consequences and you will be able to see why I feel compelled to write this blog!