We all know how much technology has taken hold of our daily lives—cellphones, tablets, social media, video games, television, and even household virtual assistants rule our days. It can be difficult to remember a world without screens as an adult, and for your kids, it’s impossible! Peeling them away from that constant glow may be a challenge, but it’s also an essential part of keeping them healthy and active. It isn’t just about getting the blood flowing and the heart pumping; physical activity and social engagement are good for the brain. So here are a few suggestions to get your kids off the couch and away from that screen for a few hours.
Family Dance Parties
We’ve all seen those scenes in feel-good family movies; the whole gang seemingly spontaneously starts dancing around the house while singing into hairbrushes and then collapsing giggling on the parents’ king-sized bed. It may be a little unrealistic when your day involved laundry and making lunches and screaming fights and kids who’d rather take a selfie than sing into a hairbrush. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Getting your kids excited and moving can be as simple as turning on the radio, taking off your shoes, and having a family dance party. Dancing is a natural, fun way to raise the heart rate and even start a little sweat if you’re doing it right! Dance parties are also a fun way to get to know what kind of music your kids are enjoying. Crank the tunes, pull out the coffee table, and dance around the living room for an hour!
The pool is the perfect place to detach from a screen—you literally can’t take them into the water! But luckily, your kids won’t want to. Remember your youth, splashing around the neighborhood pool, refusing to get out until you absolutely had to? Swimming classes are a great way to keep your kids active and social while teaching them a valuable and potentially life-saving skill. Getting your toddler familiar with water and able to swim will give you peace of mind. Swimming is also excellent exercise as it is said to work out every muscle in the body. Most importantly, it’s fun, so it won’t be pulling teeth to get your kids to move. In the water, introduce your kids to the old classics like Marco Polo. Anyone want to have a tea party at the bottom of the pool?
Grab those rollerskates and roller blades! Roller rinks are great places to have fun, socialize, and stay active. If you’re lucky, you may be able to find a free outdoor rink at a neighborhood community center. Indoor rinks are like mini amusement parks—you can grab food and drinks at the snack bar, host birthday parties, and play limbo! In the winter, ice skating offers the chance to practice twirls and make figure 8s, and of course, watch the Zamboni come and clear the ice every hour. If you don’t want to haul down to the nearest skating center, lace-up and get the kids skating in the driveway or on the sidewalk. Remember to keep your kids safe by providing them with helmets and elbow/knee pads for those inevitable tumbles.
Hiking is one of the best ways to stay active because it’s an activity the whole family can do together, and it’s a way to get your kids invested in nature. Hiking can help them appreciate the great outdoors and learn about their natural environment. To make the best out of a family hike, do a little planning. Find a trail that isn’t going to wind up in the middle of the forest or the edge of a cliff. Make sure everyone has a backpack with an extra layer of clothes and a water bottle. Pack a picnic lunch so you have something to look forward to after you’ve built up a sweat. As you hike, have your kids locate flora and fauna to identify—they can bring little notebooks and pencils to sketch their findings and look them up when they get home. While you hike, you can play games like I Spy or even arrange a scavenger hunt (never take anything from the trails, of course).
Plant a Garden
Another great way to get the kids outside and moving is by asking for their help planting a mini-garden. Planting seeds and watching them grow can give your kids confidence and introduce them to what it’s like to care for a living thing (before they start asking for that puppy). It’s also an opportunity to learn about science—how plants use sunlight and water to grow and flower. There are tons of different plant varietals, so even if you don’t have ample space or a ton of sun, you should be able to find an easy-to-tend species at your local nursery.Category: Family Free Time