Helping your kids stay active and create healthy habits gives them a far greater chance of becoming healthy adults. That means a longer life, fewer physical struggles, and a greater enjoyment of life. And who doesn’t want that? The problem is that getting active as a family is a practice what you preach sort of lifestyle. It’s difficult enough for us to keep ourselves healthy but the nice thing is it’s easier together! Here’s how you can start to build healthy habits for everyone in your household.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
We all know our kids learn through imitation so why not make sure we show them not only what we want for them but also what’s incredibly important to us. Eat healthy, make time for exercise, and vocalize some of the more difficult choices you have to make. “Long day and all I want to do is lie down and watch TV but I know I’ll feel way better if I go for a run.” It’s going to be difficult to make your own changes but there are tons of helpful articles on creating changes that don’t feel like chores.
LET THEM DECIDE
Okay so now you want to get them involved. Make sure that you give options so it doesn’t feel like a chore for them either. Nobody wants to feel like they have to do something and avoiding those negative associations will do a lot to making this a life long obsession. Everyone has their own personality and prefers different activities. The key is to get them to try as many new things as you can. Eventually, they will find something they like to do. Do the activities on a schedule whether that means making time after dinner to play games or just taking the dog for a long walk at the same time in the evening. We’re creatures of habit and kids are no different.
DO IT TOGETHER
Yes, you should have time to exercise the way you enjoy but make an effort to do stuff together. It’s a great chance to bond and maybe explore some new activities you both might enjoy. Don’t just drop them off at the park – stay and play a while (unless it’s gotten to the “drop me off 2 blocks from school years”). Swap out some of your family movie or games nights with more active events. Here are some new ideas:
Dance party for the younger ones
Bike rides through the river valley
Cross-country skiing (don’t let the snow stop you)
INCORPORATE EXERCISE INTO EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES AND MAKE IT FUN
GAMES GAMES GAMES! Try and add an aspect of competition or fun into everything. Playing video games? Loser has to do 30 jumping jacks. Raking leaves? Who can make the biggest diving pile & then best dive! Biggest snowman while clearing the driveways. There is always a way to make the things we have to do fun and remember, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. (Please stop feeding your children raw sugar and just make more games!)
Whatever it is you do, be enthusiastic about it and start early. Your job as a parent is to lead them down a path for living a healthy and successful life. It starts by leading by example and taking care of yourself and ends with including them wherever possible. It should be as fun for you as it is for them and if they see that, it will be far easier to get them on board. You’ll build some good habits yourself and you can rest easy knowing you’ve set them up for a healthy future.