Healthy habits should begin early. Lucky for parents, there is plenty of fun, easy, and creative kid-friendly activities to cultivate wellness that’ll leave them asking for more. (Bonus: Most of them are free..)
Start a garden. Or if you’ve already got one, put them to work weeding and planting. There’s nothing more rewarding than watching your garden flourish and reaping the rewards of your hard work. It’s great exercise, a great learning experience, and it delivers some homegrown ingredients for getting the kids excited and prepped to…
Cook some healthy meals together! Getting the kids to eat healthily is sometimes not so easy- but involving them in the process of making a healthy meal sure can help. Pick out a recipe together, have them make the shopping list, and let them do the shopping. (If you’re not using ingredients from your own garden). Getting them involved in prepping, cooking, and serving the meal can give them a sense of pride and accomplishment, as well as help them develop a taste for healthy foods.
Ride bikes in your local parks or greenways. Bonding over a leisurely bike ride in a beautiful setting is a great way to make memories and get some exercise. Also, (at the risk of sounding redundant), you can pack a picnic using all those fresh ingredients you grew together in your garden!
Go on a scavenger hunt, fitness style. Create a scavenger hunt, and attach fitness activities (do five jumping jacks, etc.) to each found item before moving on to the next clue.
Walk or Bike to School. If your kids live within walking or biking distance of their school, skip the bus or the car-rider line. It’s an easy way for everyone in the family to get a little bit of gentle exercise before the day begins. When the kiddos are younger, it makes for excellent bonding time, and as they get older, it’s a great way to build some independence.
Tag!– (Fancy tag, that is…) Tag is kinda played out, but if it’s cardio (and maybe some naps) you’re looking for, there are some pretty creative and cool options guaranteed to wear them out:
This game is popular in Pakistan, and its name roughly means “up and down.” Pick someone to be “it.” As he or she tries to tag the other players, they must keep their feet off the ground; otherwise, they’re out. Climbing and jumping are a lot of kids’ specialties, so this one’s sure to be popular.
In this game, everyone can tag and be tagged. Once tagged, he or she must put a hand on the spot they were touched to make a “bandaid.” The player can still run, and if they’re tagged again, they must make a second “bandaid” with the other hand to cover the other spot, and keep running! If tagged for the third time, the player must go to the “hospital” (someplace out of bounds) and do ten jumping jacks rejoin the game.
This one is a cool combination of tag and soccer. Two players are “it,” and they both get a soccer ball. Tagging someone else involves kicking the ball at the feet of another player. If the ball taps that player’s feet, they get a ball and is also “it.” The last kid without a ball is the winner! (Be sure the kids understand how to play safely, no one wants a bloody nose!)
This one is for playing at the pool. The player who’s “it” (the diver) stays on the deck while the others (the swimmers) stay in the pool and wait near the walls. Everyone inside the pool picks a color and keeps it secret while the diver begins to list words that rhyme with different colors. If a swimmer hears the rhyme matching his or her color, they have to swim to the other side of the pool without getting tagged by the diver. (The diver has to dive into the water…) Anyone who’s color is rhymed has to begin swimming within ten seconds of hearing their color. (Like the tag above, safety is paramount. Be sure to coach the kids on the rules for safe play.)
Play Wii Sports, Dance Dance Revolution, or similar games. Athletic video games are very popular with both children and adults. They’re an excellent way for the kids to exercise and practice hand-eye coordination while still satisfying that video game fix.
Visit a laser tag arcade, or go to a trampoline park together. Places like this are so much fun- and yes, they cost a bit, but the exercise and the laughs you have together are worth the price once in a while.
Getting out and active with the kids is rewarding in a multitude of ways, not just for them but for yourself as well. Give them the foundation for building an active and healthy lifestyle, and it will pay off for a lifetime.