Kids are inherently more active in the summer due to the freedom from school and, of course, the summer weather and the activities it brings. Depending on where you live, keeping them active in the winter months can be challenging due to the cold weather outside. Winter time, especially after the holidays, seems to be when my kids want to play video games the most. They complain it’s too cold to ride bikes, jump on the trampoline, hike in the nearest park, play laser tag in the yard or even run with the dogs. It’s time to become creative. Here are some tried and true tactics that have worked in my home to keep my boys active and off the couch.
Find a space in the house for some indoor activities like jumping rope or hula hooping. This is usually our garage with the car pulled out. And yes, I have attempted to teach my kids the age old practice of the hula hoop. This usually gets us all into fits of laughter, which is also a good activity burner. Turning on the radio or putting on some old records/CDs and having an old fashion free dance session also turns into fits of laughter for us. Don’t forget those old games of hide and go seek, building an obstacle course (you’re gonna have to be ok with the couch cushions coming off for this one), or a scavenger hunt where you hide items around the house for them to find. You can make all of this as high or low energy level as you need.
Check your local parks and recreation department. We are very fortunate where we live to have a robust recreation department that offers classes and sports year-round. Indoor sports leagues include soccer, basketball, volleyball, kickball and the dreaded dodgeball (or is that just me?). If your local recreation department doesn’t make the grade, find “open hours” at places like MyGym, an athletics center, a gymnastics facility, an indoor pool, roller/ice skating rinks, indoor wall climbing facilities, indoor inflatable play areas (such as Pump it Up), and indoor trampoline parks are up and coming as well. Kidding Around Yoga also has kid and family Yoga classes all year round, all over the world. There are a few outdoor sports too. They do involve playing in the snow like downhill skiing, cross country skiing, tubing, sledding and outdoor ice skating (ok, the last one would be hard in snow but you get my drift).
Don’t be afraid of the video games IF they are the active kind. I’m thinking specifically of the Xbox Kinnect, Nintendo Wii, or Playstation Move where the games are played through bodily movements (not just the thumb and finger kind). My kids have literally broken a sweat to some of their favorite action games and I sometimes can sucker them into a “dance off” on Just Dance (adult and kids versions). That being said, join in on the fun with them!
I am also not above bribing my children. When the pleas to play video games and boredom is too much to handle, I admittedly will cave. However, it will most likely follow a statement like, “If you do (fill in the blank) for 30 (or more!) minutes, then you can play a video game for 30 minutes.” Fill in the blank could actually be getting them outside playing fetch with Fido, helping Daddy with yardwork or Mommy with housework. I also like the idea of a fitness challenge like a jumping jack challenge or even a squat challenge. Let the child pick the challenge or just do different fitness activities. And by all means, get the whole family involved. That way, it’s more fun for everyone to take turns picking the challenge or the activity. The fitness activity can be as simple as arm circles or as fun as some family yoga. Remember, the best way to get your child active is to join them…and have a blast making some memories this winter.