11 Easy Ways to Get Your Kids Off the Couch from Autumn Calabrese
School is out for summer, the kids are excited: no more getting up early, no more homework, and no real schedule. Whether you're a working parent or one that stays home with the kids,when summer starts we all start asking ourselves the same question. What are we going to do all summer to keep them occupied and off the couch?
Turning to electronics is easy. Even the youngest of kids seems to know how to work a smartphone better than most adults. The TV and the computer are also easy to turn on, operate, and occupy time.
I know we're busy, but before we let our kids spend lazy summer days laying around consider this 2007 study published in the American Journal of Public Health. It reported that the body mass indexes (BMI) of more than 5,000 kindergartners and first graders increased by almost twice as much during the summer break as compared with the school year. Weight gain and increased BMI can lead to health problems for your children in youth as well as into adulthood.
So how do we keep our kids entertained and off the couch? Here are my eleven tips to make life a little easier and more fun for kids and parents.
- Fill your child’s summer with physical activities. Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, including aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Head to the parks. Lots of parks have bike & hiking trails. Biking and hiking are great cardio activities for the family. You can do fun muscle building activities at the park, including rope or tree climbing and swinging on playground equipment/bars, plus don't forget bone-strengthening games like hopscotch, jump rope, skipping, hopping, and jumping.
- Try doing Country Heat or another workout plan with your kids each day. They are always watching us and want to do what we do. Lead by example and keep it fun.
- Check out the local museums. Not only will you be on your feet walking around for a few hours, everyone will get to learn something new. Why not keep the brain working as hard as the body over the summer?
- Take a cooking class together. Choose an age-appropriate course. You can find classes for children as young as 10. When my eight-year-old son helps me cook he is always more likely to try whatever it is that we've made, even veggies. Getting in the kitchen & learning to cook seems to be a bit of a lost art for the next generation. Home economics has gone away along with PE and recess at school. Let's not forget the necessary life skills our kids need to be ready for adulthood. It's never too early to learn to prepare delicious, healthy food.
- Check out the local swimming pool. Some are lucky to have pools right in their backyard but if not, not to worry. Most neighborhoods have a local pool. Swimming was by far my favorite summer activity as a kid. Pack a lunch, some healthy snacks, and make a day of it. Not only will you and the kids get plenty of physical activity, but they will also be wiped out by the end of the day and sleep like little rocks.
- Sign your child up for local recreational or sports programs. Churches, community centers, and schools usually host events throughout the summer. Let your child choose what interests them. They may even try something new.
- Who doesn't love a good run through the sprinklers on a hot summer day? Try hosting a sprinkler or pool party with the neighborhood kids. For endless hours of fun, add water balloon filling and tossing to the afternoon's activities.
- Being prepared isn't half the battle, it is the battle. Be prepared when boredom strikes. Keep balls, jump ropes, hula hoops, chalk, and bubbles on hand to send the kids outside to play when you need a little time to get work or chores done. You can even create a fitness circuit for them using all of these toys.
- Become a tourist. Sometimes we are so busy trying to “find” something to do that we overlook what is right in front of us. Everywhere you go, find something fun and unique about it. What is different about your city? Is there a must-see place to visit? A cool amusement park? A great national park, beach, or historic site? Take time to explore where you live with your kids.
- Teaching our children to help others and be a little kinder is always a good thing. Look into local volunteer activities that you can do as a family. Work at the local food bank for a day, or help out at a nursing home. Not only is it a great lesson in philanthropy, everyone will leave feeling good.
A celebrity trainer, bestselling author, and working mom, Autumn Calabrese revolutionized the Beachbody® fitness model with her simple approach to portion control. Her programs include 21 Day Fix®, 21 Day Fix EXTREME®, The Master’s Hammer and Chisel™, Country Heat™, as well as her FIXATE® cookbook which sold over 400,000 copies. Autumn has recently released an eBook “75 Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids.”