If you are 25 years old or older you probably grew up similar to me in that we spent most of our free time as children playing outside.
I grew up in a great neighbourhood with tons of kids around, a park, a pool and a huge open field right behind my house. My fondest childhood memories are filled with impromptu soccer games, street hockey tournaments, skipping, playing hide and seek, roller skating, ice hockey pick up games at the outdoor rink, sledding and tobogganing.
We would come in from school, change out of our “school clothes” and into our “play clothes” and we were gone until we were called in for dinner (and by called I don’t mean on a cell phone or by text, nope my mom opened the door and hollered my name in the streets).
An organized “playdate” with a school friend was almost unheard of. You played with the kids in your neighbourhood once you got home from school. Television was reserved for rainy days and early morning cartoons on a Saturday morning. As we all know, times have changed and it just isn’t that way anymore. There are still some neighbourhoods that are more populated with children than others but kids are most likely found at home on a screen.
Unfortunately I live on a street where my kids’ hockey net and basketball nets stand alone. I also have to confess that like most moms I know, I haven’t given my kids the freedom to do many of the things I did growing up. It’s just different now. Most people don’t send their elementary school aged kids to the park unsupervised.
So if my kids don’t have an organized sport on any given day I shoo them outside for a minimum of thirty minutes to do some physical activity together.
After 30 minutes they can come in but once they get into playing they usually go for well over an hour. However, if I left it up to them more often than not they would retreat to their rooms with their iPads in hand.
My kids can choose almost any extra curricular activity they like whether it be music, drama, anything really
but along with that comes a physical activity of some kind. At least one per session or season. My son is an active kid and really enjoys just about every sport so it’s never been an issue for him, the more sports he has, the happier he is. My daughter, on the other hand, is more of an artsy kid, she really enjoys singing, music, acting but lacked the drive for sports that my son had. She knew she still had to choose something physical. She’s tried her hand at many activities, and we’ve eliminated a few along the way but she finally found that she enjoys the aquatic sports.
Sometimes some kids don’t find their thing and there may not be any sport they like, they might not enjoy any “organized program” but as parents I think it’s important we motivate our kids to be active individuals.
One way to do this is the same way you teach any value that you care about: by doing it yourself, by doing it with them and by encouraging him to do it on their own.
So if your child is not into sports, then you should look into doing physical activities as a family, bike rides, hiking, nature walks and cross country skiing are all fun family friendly physical activities. Kids love it when their parents play with them.
Getting regular exercise is good for your mental and physical health. We all want the best for our children and being fit and healthy now will set them on a path to be active and healthy adults. This is such an important topic that I will be talking more about it in future blogs, so keep checking back.