While technological literacy is an important skill for 21st century kids, there can definitely be too much of a good thing. Studies confirm that kids now spend an average of seven hours a day in front of a device screen, an alarming trend that’s replacing the amount of time spent in active play. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends that kids get at least an hour of physical activity each day. If this sounds like a lot, keep in mind that it can be broken into smaller chunks of time. Here are a few simple ways to keep your family active during summer vacation.
Model Good Choices
We all know that “do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t make a good parenting philosophy. The behaviors that parents model for kids, intentionally or not, are the ones they normalize and mimic. That means if we want our kids to spend less time in front of devices and more time moving their bodies, we have to do the same. Limit TV time and cell phone use for yourself – at least when the kids are around – and let them see that you’re invested in your own physical fitness by joining a zumba class, starting a daily yoga practice, or training for a 5K. Older kids might even want to join you in these activities!
Add Physical Activity to Family Trips
A week-long backpacking trip to a national park might not top every family’s list of dream vacations, but no matter where you go, you can create opportunities for everyone to move more. On a lengthy drive, scout your route for municipal or state parks where you can stop and stretch your legs in a leisurely stroll. You can also add on small side trips that involve walking or other activity, such as touring a cave or visiting a trampoline park.
Help kids learn a new skill that incorporates physical activity. You can opt to turn it over to the pros; for example, enroll them in swim lessons or kayaking classes. However, you can also take a DIY approach. Go to the library and check out a guide to trees, birds, or wildlife in your region and then head to the nearest state park. Together, test your spotting skills as you and your kids get in a nice hike.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, and once moving becomes a habit, it’s easier to maintain. What are your favorite ways to keep your kids active during the summer?