As Little M is getting bigger - I've had several opportunities lately to reflect on how happy I am that she is growing up loving being active. Watching her side shuffle across the football field while laughing hysterically, or walking carefully along any narrow plank or wall like a balance beam or swinging on anything that resembles a bar just makes my heart GLOW.
I can't say I have all of the answers, I'm sure there will be a point in my kids lives where I have to force them off the couch to get some sort of exercise. But I hope and pray that they will find as much joy in it throughout their lives as I do.
Recently, I was interviewed by a student athlete at our university for a production class project. She had seen our Moms in Motion class on the football field and was impressed with how the moms were prioritizing fitness and sharing it with their kids! Go Moms! As she asked me a few questions it got me thinking about why I love doing what I'm doing. Like anything, it can become just another thing on my weekly to-do list. But when I sat back and thought about what motivated me to teach that class - all I could think of were the kids following their mamas around and copying them. That's what living by example is you guys!
So, I've put together 3 of my top tips for raising kids who love fitness!
1. Let your kiddos see you workout!
This is my biggest piece of advice. Our kiddos want to do everything their parents/siblings do. They want to brush their teeth because they see you do it. They want to wear sunglasses just like you do. Well, if they see that exercise is a part of your daily life, they are going to want to do it too! If you want your kids to be active and healthy and love fitness - you've gotta live it! This can look different for every family, and can start with teeny-tiny littles.
A few ideas:
- While baby is doing tummy time, mama can do planks and push-up kisses!
- Take your kiddos on walks, runs and hikes - investing in a baby carrier and a high quality running stroller (BOB is my fave!) is not only a big investment in YOUR health, but in your kids' too!
- Throw on an exercise DVD or something from YouTube while your kiddo is playing in the same room. When they want to join in, let them!
- If they are too young to join, hold them for added resistance! (Check out this post for a workout you can do with your littlest love!)
- Find a mommy & me fitness or yoga class to do together
- Bring them to your races or competitions - kids are the best cheerleaders!
I realize that for many of you, working out is "me-time". And that's ok too! If you get the chance to escape to the gym or even put your kiddos in childcare while you workout, that's fine! They know you're doing something important to you. And you can still do little extra things like walking and active play at home!
2. Make active play fun!
As kids start to grow, it's so important for activity to be a big part of their day. They are growing and learning and have a lot of energy to burn! I'm a huge supporter of unguided playtime, but there are things you can do to help your kids get active throughout the day even when they think they are just playing!
- Have a place to climb/slide play in your yard.
- Set up a sprinkler in your backyard for hours of running, sliding and spraying.
- Seek out new places to explore like nature trails, playgrounds or splash parks.
- Take your kids to a local track or field to run and play.
- For little babies - do baby yoga!
- A few balls, cones and chalk can go a long ways for creating active play.
- Race your kids across the lawn or across your living room.
- Encourage your kids to use different ways of movement to get around the house our yard. (ex: let's crawl like bears! Hop like a bunny! Side shuffle! Scoot like a crab)
- Make screen time moving time with kids fitness videos. I love Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube!
3. Watch your words.
Kids listen to EVERYTHING you say - often from a much younger age than you expect! It's so important to watch the way you talk about exercise, eating right and being healthy. If working out is chore for you that you complain about "ugh - I HAVE TO go get my run in this morning", your kids are going to think it's something you shouldn't want to do either. If you're groaning about your nasty daily salad that you have to eat because you're on a diet, your kids aren't going to want to try any of those yummy veggies! Avoid talking about your weight, being "fat" or comparing yourself to others. (This is just as important for YOU to stop doing as it is for your kids!) When you talk about your healthy snack or your daily workout - explain that it helps you feel stronger, happier, better. When kids think that moving is fun and eating broccoli trees will make them stronger and run faster, they will be on board before you know it!
How about you?
How do you help your kids get active?