Summertime Family Activity
by Michael King
Summer is a great time to re-connect as a family. The kids have finished school, the stress of homework is gone, the hustle and bustle of practices and games or performances has at least been slowed. But summer leaves many parents wondering what to do with the kids, how to keep them active and off the sofa, how to engage them in a way that distracts from the television and computer.
Regardless of the facade kids may wear, they love it when mom and dad get involved, and most kids would gladly give up screen time for a little more family time. So why not take advantage of the free time and do something active as a family. Summer is a wonderful time for exercising together and it’s something that benefits the whole family on a number of levels.
Here are a few suggestions for what to do as a family this summer to stay active and improve everyone’s health.
- Take a bike ride. Many communities have bike trails that are safe and level and can provide hours of togetherness. Get a map of your local bike trail, plan your ride, then make an adventure of it with the kids. And for an extra incentive, pack a lunch and make a picnic out of it.
- Make a splash. If you don’t have a pool of your own, you may want to visit your local community pool or YMCA. There are a variety of water games you can play and exercising in water is easy on the joints. Have the kids use their imagination and make up a game of their own.
- Go for a walk. Whether you like to hike in the woods or trek around your neighborhood, walking is one of the best all-around activities for overall health. For the kids, make a game of it by incorporating a scavenger hunt or “I spy” activity. Hint, if you’re at the beach, walking in the sand is a great way to burn extra calories.
- Take up a sport. Whether organized or just hitting a volleyball around in the backyard or playing pitch and hit, engaging in some kind of team sport with your kids will help build a sense of togetherness and healthy competition.
- Run to and fro. For a more advanced activity, go for a jog with your kids. They’ll enjoy the challenge of keeping up with mom or dad (or seeing if you can keep up with them). If possible, be kind to your joints and avoid running on the road or sidewalk. Grass or a local track are always better options. And don’t be afraid to mix it up a little. Have your child ride a bike while you jog beside them or vice versa.
- Rock and roll. Live near a roller skating rink? Lace up those skates and hit the floor with your kids. Even if it’s been a while since you last skated (like, decades) you’ll find it a challenging and fun activity. And besides, the kids will enjoy laughing at you struggling to keep your balance.
- Catch them if you can. For younger children, play a game of tag in the backyard or at the park. Chase fireflies after dark. Create an obstacle course in your back yard. Play dodge ball. You’ll be surprised by how much running you do. And for more fun and creativity, put the kids in charge of designing an obstacle course or running game.
- It reinforces the love you have for them. Taking time to spend with your kids makes huge deposits in their love account.
- It gives them a sense of accomplishment when a goal is met or a challenge is conquered.
- A sense of teamwork among family members is fostered when you share a common goal and purpose.
- Trust in each other is strengthened.
- Exercising or playing together will inevitably produce some laughs. And you know what they say about the family that laughs together.
- It teaches sportsmanship, selflessness and teamwork, all skills that will benefit your children later in life.
With longer days and warmer weather comes a myriad of opportunities to get outside and spend time with your kids. Begin now by teaching them the benefits of physical activity and family togetherness. Trust me, they’ll thank you later . . . and you’ll thank yourself.
Michael King is the author of the upcoming novel A Thousand Sleepless Nights (October, 2012). When he’s not working, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife and four daughters. He has degrees in exercise physiology and physical therapy and works full-time in the medical health field. Michael is also a cancer survivor and blogs regularly.