As a working parent, you probably lead a busy life, trying to juggle it all – making it challenging to get your kids active.
The pandemic saw us working at home more, and our children’s screen time increased significantly as they also learnt remotely. Many families have regressed their physical, emotional, and nutritional habits.
More than 50% of South African kids are not meeting the recommended daily physical activity needed.
With this in mind, Virgin Active has developed a FREE, easy guide alongside various experts to empower and supports parents and guardians; My daughter and I were lucky to have attended the fabulous launch. The guide is developed for busy families to help them keep up our little people’s nutritional, mental, gut and movement needs, between the ages of 18 months to 13 years. The best part is that it is FREE, and you can download it here.
While going through the guide, I was amazed at how simple some of the tips are; honestly, I’m often intimidated by the subject of health because I know there is lots of room for improvement, firstly with myself and then with some of our family habits. Still, we must remember that we always have the chance to TRY AGAIN. I can assure you there is something for everyone in the guide.
So, let’s get into the tips to get your kids active:
Find out what YOUR kids love
We know how different children are, so naturally, they will also be interested in various physical activities. Even siblings will differ in their preferences, so it is really beneficial to take an interest in finding out which physical activities your children love.
- Sign them up for a sport or extra mural at school
- Set up some of their favorite toys outside and encourage them to play and run around outside. Keep any balls and bikes close by too.
- Introduce family challenges – like sit-ups, squats and jumping jacks and create a board to track everyone’s progress
- If you have pets, encourage the children to walk their pets and play with them outside
- Keep trying out new activities, like rock-climbing, yoga, hiking, ziplining, swimming, cricket… the list goes on. The point is that you have to keep trying different things until you find out what they enjoy, so that you can give them more opportunities to do those things.
If you have tweens or teenagers, they may prefer activities with a group of friends, which is also fine. Take their lead and encourage them along the way – my son loves park runs and he’s expressed an interest in doing the 10KM run at this years Soweto Marathon. EEEEK!
Start with just 15 minutes of movement per day
Children are made for movement! With increased screen time and digital technology, it may be more convenient to keep them busy with a device while you get things done, but children need to be active.
Start with just 15 minutes per day by incorporating movement into your everyday activities – like packing up after playtime – add hops and jumps to the routine.
- Prioritise play time, which the ebook states “naturally mimics the ideal cardio workout”
- Take regular water and body breaks and go at your child’s pace – there is absolutely no need for pressure
- Once you are home from work or done working at home – take a walk together around the yard, park or block. The fresh air will be amazing and it’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with each other and talk about your day as a family.
- Take them grocery shopping with you and get your steps in for the day.
- Incorporate relaxing stretches and breathing exercises, with your bedtime routine. Keep good posture in mind when doing this.
- Swap your Friday movie night with a dance party
An active kid, is a happy kid!
Model the movement AND food behaviors that you want to see
By now we know that kids do what we do, not what we tell them to do. This is also true for our physical and nutritional habits too.
- Don’t reward kids with screen time
- Do some of the activities WITH your kids – they are always keen to see us getting involved and they watch what we do
- Talk to them about the benefits of nutrition and don’t make sweets the enemy, rather encourage everything in moderation
- Start having family meals at your table, away from the couch, tablets or TV. Depending on your circumstances, it might not always be possible to do this with the morning school and work rush, but trying this at dinner and weekends would be a good start. This will assist the children to have a positive relationship with food and it’s another opportunity for the family to slow down and enjoy each others company.
- Plan your shopping and write a list of foods that will give them more energy, naturally like bananas, beans, avocado, nuts, eggs, citrus, and oats.
As I mentioned before, we can always start where we are and build our healthier habits slowly. It’s not always easy, but we can do this and our kids need it.
Don’t forget to download your own free development and wellness guide from Virgin Active and take advantage of their offer to a free guestoass to try out one of their clubs (T’s and C’s apply).
Modern Zulu Mom