July 19, 2013
How to keep kids active? It almost sounds funny doesn’t it? I mean, most kids have an abundance of energy and can run and play all day. The sad part is that oftentimes … they don’t. They sit inside playing on the computer or sitting in front of the TV. So we have to step in and actually “help ” them get creative and stay active (especially as the summer sinks in and parents hear the dreaded phrase “I’m bored” more and more often).
Most of us can remember a childhood of summers spent outdoors until the street lamps came on. Running, swimming, catching butterflies, playing hopscotch, playing with neighborhood friends … it was all so natural. But, between the invention of numerous electronic “toys,” a return of many moms to work, and the increased safety concern of letting kids just head outdoors to play, the childhood as we remember is a thing of the past.
Doing all we can to encourage the kids to get outside is so important. My new rule is to save the electronics either for rainy indoor days or evenings after they’ve spent the day outside. Whether you can take the kids to places like zoos, water parks, aquariums, lakes, beaches and parks or you can just shoo them out into the yard (or get out there with them!), the key is to let them connect with nature, find things to look at and discover and explore. To connect with friends without a game controller or TV remote in their hands.
Here are 8 ideas for keeping the kids more active and unplugged in the summer months.
- Take a family walk. Try to set aside some time a few nights a week. The dishes can wait. And of course, the TV can too. Don’t set an example of sitting on your butt when telling them to get out and play.
- Let them create. Create tents and forts, create chalk mosaics on the driveway, create backyard obstacle courses, create their own puddings and baking creations (if they’re old enough). How about painting rocks and shells they find? Planting a vegetable or flower garden?
- Pick an activity. Fill a jar with different ideas written on paper and let them choose one to do. The ideas can range from making a treasure hunt, designing their own backyard mini golf course, catching butterflies or playing ball. Just hands-on, fun activities they can do with minimal supervision. As an incentive, offer a prize when they complete one.
- Head out together. When you have time to take them places, hit up local nature trails and hikes. Explore a new park or lake or beach. How about a wildlife refuge, a zoo or a boardwalk? A new museum? Google your local state or county and you’ll find numerous places available.
- “One man’s trash”… consider going to some local yard sales and giving each child a certain amount to spend. There’s nothing like new (for them) toys to keep them active ,and to keep you from going broke.
- Get wet. Fill a baby pool or large buckets with dish soap and water and let the kids blow bubbles or wash your car or some patio furniture that is in need of a cleaning. It’s 2 for 1 fun.
- Try a new sport. Even if they play a team sport during the school year, sign them up fora different kind of local class like kids yoga, karate, or swim lessons. Often it’s a nice break to participate in a sport for a few weeks that they don’t do year round.
- Check out the library. Have you checked out your local library recently? Most offer wonderful programs for all ages, from crafts to stargazing to story time. Bringing home stacks of books is another great way to unplug. Our library offers awesome shows and museum lending passes also, so ask what yours offers. We have visited 4 museums and have seen countless magic, comedy and entertainment shows all for free!