Trying to be active as a family can be daunting! I have not been great at it in the past, but have set my goals much higher this year! Previously, we would all work on being active on our own; I would take kickboxing and zumba classes at the gym, Danny would run, and the kids would play sports during different seasons. It isn’t that we dont still do these things on our own, because we absolutely do, it’s just that now we would like to also incorporate having active lifestyles into our family activities as well.
It takes more effort and planning, but is way more fun and rewarding! We have made a lot of changes to how we spend our free time and you can to! It doesn’t matter how old or young your kids are. These ideas will work for all families with old and young kids alike!
1. Sign up for a race. Start off easy, like the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving or another 5k or shorter. Have your kids train with you! My kids loved wearing a kids pedometer as they ran/walked. It was still a bit hard on my five year old so he road his scooter beside us as we trained. Fun and non competitive races are great for younger kids and for getting started.
We just ran the Color Me Rad Run this past weekend. They have these all over the country. They basically spray or throw paint at you as you run by so at the end of the race you are tie-dyed! The kids loved it! It was very laid back as far as the run goes. It wasn’t timed, it was just a good time out getting exercise with the family. There were lots of kids and even parents pushing strollers.
2. Plan active things to do on the weekends. Instead of the usual dinner and/or movie, we try to plan more active outings. We go to the beach, the pool, hiking, fishing, roller skating, ice skating, the park, the zoo, camping, bowling, … it doesn’t matter as long as it is an activity that keeps your family having fun and on their feet. It was hard to detour from our typical weekends of eating out and sitting at movies. We still do these things from time to time, but as a general rule we try to make more ACTIVE plans.
3. Invite friends over to play games rather than just to eat and sit around. Meet at a park or plan to be in the backyard playing wiffle ball. Set up a slip’n slide for the kiddos to play on while you BBQ. We recently went to our church with some friends in the evening when there were no other activities going on and played freeze tag using the entire building where adults and kids together would run, hide, and take turns being it. It was a blast! Even my three year loved it… he thought he was pretty cool going and unfreezing all the big kids!
4. Get a basketball hoop! This is a great way to have something active to do each night! It doesn’t count if you just send your kids out there to shoot hoops (not that there is anything wrong with this). The goal is to be active as a family, so go out there and play some HORSE and elimination with the kiddos. We even set up a mini Little Tikes hoop for our three year right next to the big hoop so he can be part of the game too!
5. Support your kids in their own sports! We try to have each of our three boys pick a sport to sign up for each season (as much as funds permit). We bring the entire family to each game to watch and cheer as much as possible. Sometimes their games overlap and we have to split up, but more often than not we spend our Saturday mornings going from one game to the next. It is really important that the kids know we feel what they are doing is important and that we are all there to watch and support their hard work!
6. Take walks or go on a bike ride after dinner. This is hit or miss for us because we often have practices on weeknights, but we love to just walk around the neighborhood and talk while the boys ride their bikes beside us. Taking family walks are never overrated!
7. Bring back the old school games! We recently taught our kids how to play Kick the Can. It was a huge hit! They are obsessed with it and have all the neighborhood kids coming over after school to play it! Not a fan of Kick the Can… try dodgeball in the backyard, capture the flag, SPUD, wiffle ball, or even a good old fashioned water fight! Bring back all those games you use to play around the neighborhood before iPads, wiis, and xboxes ruled the world! You might feel silly playing these along side the kids at first, but after the first round you will be in it to win it! Our kids will spend their lives trying to beat us!
8. Start a garden! The kids love this! They are all about weeding, planting, and of course watering! Gardening helps them take pride in eating healthy home grown produce as well as taking care of the yard. Each weekend we bring the kids out to help clean up, water, and take care of the garden and yard. My littlest guy loves pushing around his toy lawnmower while my husband mows the lawn.
9. Sign up for some adult co-ed sport leagues. They have everything these days! You can do softball, volleyball, kickball, flag football, etc… Bring the whole family to the games to watch and cheer! It is fun for them to see their parents participating in the same type of organized sports they do! Last year I did softball. It was a blast. We brought Grandma along with us to the games to keep an eye on the kiddos while we played. The kids loved going to the games and running around with their cousins (whose parents played on the team). I think we will sign up for kickball next!
10. Take up tennis! Tennis is easy because most communities have courts you can play on for free. These days, you can also get a decent racket for $20. We like to take the whole family to the courts and play around. The younger kids mostly just run around the courts throwing tennis balls around while the rest of us practice. Either way, it is a fun and a free way to be active with your family.
These are just a few ideas and I would LOVE to hear what you do with your family to stay active and healthy! Change takes time, effort, and planning, but this change is so rewarding that it is really worth the fuss!
An active family is a happy family!
About Jamie Hinckley
I am a mom of three crazy boys! We love life, play hard, and ALWAYS get messy! Life is busy and full of fun, jumping, crashing, skinned knees, rough housing, torn jeans, scratches, but most of all LOVE. Yes, life is crazy. Actually its completely nuts, but I wouldn't change a thing! We love life and can't wait for our next adventure... and one day, possibly a little girl! Haha!