My approach this summer with the kids was simple: keep them active and make them tired. I call it Mama’s Boot Camp. It seemed to be the key to keeping my sanity over the summer break. There is so much about summer that I love, but feeling like a cruise director for my family is not one of them. I think all of us Moms would agree that the words, “Mom, I’m bored” are like nails on a chalkboard. I think I literally twitch when they squeak out those whiny words. I’ve heard of some creative ideas – such as an “I’m bored” board or jar where they can pick an activity when they’re feeling bored – but since I’m not creative enough to think of neat crafts or fun activities when they do say those words, I figured I’d have to take a different approach. My approach was to make them so tired they wouldn’t have the energy for those words. In a world of increasing childhood obesity and diabetes, it didn’t seem like such a bad idea, right?
Step one was to enroll them in a summer swim team. This was probably the best idea that I’ve ever had. The kids had swimming every day, except Sunday, and I had plenty of time for poolside reading. As an added bonus, they both ignited a passion for swimming and competition that we never knew existed in them. Because of their hard work this summer, they will be continuing to swim year-round.
(This makes me think of a story in The Year of Living Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling where the author signs up her daughter for water polo because it’s “the fourth most physically taxing group activity.” It feels good not to be alone in this thought process.)
Second, I make them go on run/walks with me at least once a week. I call it a run/walk because it is a mixture of both depending on our mood, energy and the humidity outside. One of my resolutions this year (ok, every year) was to be CONSISTENT with my exercise, even if it was only two times a week. Figuring out a way to fit it in the schedule is very challenging. Then it dawned on me, this is not something I always have to do without my children. At least once a week they can join me for a run/walk. So, when the weather allows, I take them on a mile run/walk. Often they do this before swim practice. I’m practically training future triathletes! Some days they mind, but most of the time they enjoy being outside and enjoying nature with me. On one of our run/walks, a deer ran right across our path. It was so neat! On the days they are not feeling up for it, I let them ride their scooters and I run alongside of them. Whatever cranky funk we’re dealing with usually gets worked out on the trail and everyone is happy by the end of it. It really is great therapy for all of us!
Another fun outdoor activity we’ve been trying this summer is tennis. We’re all beginners at it so we get in some good sprints running after the ball. The kids enjoy it so much that I don’t even think they realize they’re exercising.
Since these bursts of physical activity outside have made a huge difference in the attitudes around my house this summer, I’m hoping to continue this trend in the new school year. We’ll have a more structured schedule and I heard giving a new habit a “title” helps you keep it. I think I’m going to start calling our exercise days “Family Fitness Fridays.”
I’m so curious about this subject…How do you keep your family active? What activities do you enjoy doing together outside? How do you squeeze in workout time?