From the time babies are in the womb they are geared to move. Mother’s feel their baby’s squirms, kicks, punches and rolls as early as 17 weeks.
Once the baby is born, every day is an explosion of new growth and movement. Whether it’s developing hand eye coordination, holding their own head up, rolling over, grabbing their toes, crawling, walking, jumping, dancing, running and climbing on everything that aims towards the sky, babies and ultimately kids, want to move.
We were all babies at one point, so we all have this natural ability to be physical, but somewhere along the way, we start spending more time sitting, moving nothing more than the fingers to type, the hands to steer, the foot to break or accelerate, and the mouth to chew. Our workouts are scheduled like a job on the “to do list”, and often lack the joyful spirit of play we once enjoyed when we were kids. We seem to say to ourselves now, “I am doing this because I have to and I know it’s good for me”.
However, those of us that have kids are lucky. We have insight. We can re-live some parts of our childhood. Thanks to our kids. Yes, even with the baby weight, the sleepless nights, the worries, and the never ending “to do list”, we are lucky. Our kids can show us the moves of youth and get us playing again.
I know that we are supposed to serve as role models for our children, but in this case, let’s let our children inspire us to once again move our bodies. As a whole family, we can connect our heads, shoulders, knees and toes in a rythme that brings joy and fitness to the entire family.
Here are 5 activities you can do with your family at all stages of life.
The Early Years: 0 – 2 yrs.
Explore, explore, explore. Put the baby in a carrier, or in a stroller and explore your neck of the woods. Show your baby rocks, flowers, trees, birds, etc. and get moving. Outside time with your little one and your partner burns calories and enables you to see areas you may have never noticed before. Walking and talking is also a great way for partners to connect and for your little one to learn the art of conversation.
*Kick it up a notch! If you have your baby in a stroller, add in a little running. Time yourself with 2 minutes of running to 1 minute of walking. See how long you and your better half can keep this going.
The Toddler Years 2 – 4 yrs.
Parks are fun and fabulous for workouts and play. Run through the grass, teach your little one how to do a summer-salt, climb trees, kick and chase a ball, follow your little one up and around the jungle gym, and play red light/green light. Pretty soon your childhood memory will take over and you’ll remember all of the things you “used” to do!
*Kick it up a notch! Give your toddler the feeling of flight by playing “tag mummy and daddy”. Stand a good distance apart, hold your child up in the air with both arms and run towards your mate as your mate “tries” to get away. Once your arms are on fire, trade places and you try to run away. Keep trading back and forth for as long as possible.
Ready To Roll 4 – 6 yrs.
Bikes are for the whole gang! And by now, your little one can peddle pretty fast. Strap those helmets on and head out on your bikes. Tandum bikes are a great way for your child to learn how to ride and get some assistance from you as your bike does most of the work. A family ride around the neighborhood is a great way to get fit and spend time together.
*Kick it up a notch! Spend a whole day showing your child all of the things you can accomplish on two wheels; grocery shopping, library stops, farmer’s markets, museums, parks, etc. You’ll be amazed how much ground you can cover and you’ll discover all of the amazing nooks and crannies of your beautiful town or city that you’d never discover in a car. This activity only improves the older your child gets and the more fun you all will have as a family.
Fast, Strong & Ready 6 – 10 yrs.
Board and card games are fun at this stage in your child’s development, but games that make you and your young one move together when a little competition is involved is even more fun. As a family, make a deck of cards with different exercises and length of time each exercise must be performed on each card. Every now and then make a card for a stretch or relaxation move, such as lying on your back and breathing. Take turns drawing from the deck. Every member must perform the movement for as long as the card requests. Ex: jumping jacks for 1 minute without stopping. Whoever has to stop during the minute is out and the winner earns a point. Whoever earns the most points or is sweating the most at the end of the game wins! Be creative with your exercises and try to challenge each other. You’ll be amazed at your child’s abilities and he or she will be amazed with you too!
Your Pre-Teen & Teen Workout Buddy 10 – …
Take time out as a family to once again hike, bike, or run together on a regular basis. When the body is moving the mind is more open for conversation. This is a great time to ask your son or daughter about their day and what challenges they may be facing in their teenage lives. As your bodies work the mind will relax and you will continue to make connections with your growing child with less stress and worry and with more positivity and support.
*Kick it up a notch!Sign up for a 5k race, a Muddy Buddy Run, or join a family fitness class together. The bonding experience you and your teenager will experience from working as a team is invaluable. You all will relay on each other and push each other to the finish line.