Keeping Kids Active During Winter Break
When school’s out for the holidays, it can be hard to keep your kids from spending their days inside staring at the television, video games, or their phones. After all the months spent studying, it’s difficult for them to resist that urge to sit back, relax, and become a couch potato for their entire winter break. While that may seem like a less stressful option for everyone, it’s not always the best long-term plan. Physically active kids are more motivated, focused, and much less stressed in school. They sleep better and are less likely to develop Type II Diabetes. After all, healthy kids mean healthy adults. It’s never too early to start cultivating habits that can follow them into adulthood.
It can be daunting to look at the whole winter stretching ahead, especially if you’re a working parent and aren’t able to stay home all the time with your kids. It’s going to be much easier – and less stressful – if you start by planning your week in advance. Sometimes your schedule (and theirs) can be so packed it’s hard to make time for exercise. It’ll also help to get your children involved in this process. That way, you can both find things that are fun to do together and will help them look forward to the activities.
If you do have an athletic child, the winter is a great time to sign them up for a fitness course (sledding, skiing, or martial arts) or a sports team. Otherwise, setting up play groups with other classmates, friends, or family in their age group can provide social interaction and outdoor/indoor activities. You can organize a basketball, snowball fight, or other yard games (weather permitting depending on where you are located).
Friends can make all the difference in how much anyone enjoys a given activity. In either case, consider focusing on outdoor activities. You can always assign chores that involve some outdoor time, like gardening, that can be great opportunities for your child to learn some new skills and find their new favorite pastimes.
Speaking of which, sometimes it’s difficult to find something that your kids will enjoy. Sports aren’t for everyone. That’s not a bad thing. While there are plenty of kids who look forward to sports programs like basketball or soccer, that isn’t universal. Many children may not be interested in organized sports, especially as they get older and may be less confident competing with their peers. It may be hard to find activities for those children but there are always options that don’t include competition.
Maybe your child would have more fun with non-athletic options. In that case, visiting a museum or a zoo is a great chance to blend education and a chance to stretch your legs. Swimming and dog-walking are great low-impact alternatives. If they enjoy video games, there are a lot of games that involve physical activity. Consider creating an adventure for the whole family. Planning a family getaway can be a great opportunity to discover fun new places to things to do. If that’s not feasible, you may try something like hiking, planning on a picnic, cycling, or even geocaching as a fun family activity.
With all this, remember that exercise should never be punishment for your children. If you want them to develop habits that will keep them physically active for the rest of their lives, you have to help them build a positive association with whatever activity they try. Correcting their behavior with some sort of physical labor is guaranteed to make them see it as a punishment even long after the moment.
So much of this process is boiled down to trying something new. You may not find the perfect activity or exercise for your family immediately. That’s okay. Try something new and, if your child doesn’t enjoy it as much as either of you hoped, at least he or she has had a new adventure to share with their friends. Even a misstep can be a fun way of getting exercise and promoting healthy habits for your children in the future