By the middle of a long summer break, children parking themselves in front of the TV to play video games may feel monotonous to them — and you. Maybe they’ve whizzed through stacks of library books and colored every page of every coloring book. With their pent-up energy ready to burst, providing opportunities for more physical activity may help.
These ideas can get kids moving; use your creativity and modify them to suit your children’s interests and passions.
1. Create a summer “bucket list.” Write a list of fun outdoor activities and tape it to a bucket. Fill it with goodies like small beach shovels for playing in the sand, chalk for inventing new sidewalk games and small kites. Then do them as a family and have your children cross out each activity after you do it.
“Participating in these activities with your kids is a great way to get everyone moving. It also creates a wonderful bonding time,” says Jessica Bixenmann, a health and wellness coach and behavior change expert for Sharp Health Plan’s Best Health team. “Be sure to let your children choose which activity they want to do that day.”
2. Dedicate a small part of your yard to a garden. For children, it is best to plant fast-growing crops to receive quick positive reinforcement for their efforts. If you start now, your children can harvest these plants before they go back to school. If they keep up their gardening skills, they can continue to grow food they can use for school lunches.
- Arugula: 21 days to harvest. Its peppery flavor makes a nice addition to sandwiches.
- Radishes: 25 days to harvest. To take the spicy bite out of this root vegetable, roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Spinach: 45 days to harvest. Although many kids don’t take to its flavor, mixing spinach with fruit to make a smoothie will make it easier to go down. The green color is a fun alternative to typical smoothies.
Summer is also a good planting season for beans, broccoli, carrots and corn.
3. Film a movie. Apps now let you shoot and edit home movies. You can even select still images, choose themes and music. You can have your kids scout for (safe) locations around the neighborhood and film themselves creating their masterpiece. This also lets them get their screen time with technology but moves them outdoors.
4. Train and register for a local 5K to do as a family. San Diego Runs provides an updated list of local races. Be sure to consult a doctor prior to beginning any physical fitness routine.
And most importantly, remain active yourself to set an example. “It’s easier to model healthy behavior than for your children to come up with it on their own,” says Bixenmann.