My kids have spent the last few months swimming, diving, playing tennis and running around like crazy. Most of the time they are in the water, either here at home or at the swim club. The rest of the time? My girls can usually be found upside down, doing cartwheels, really, any gymnastics skills. My son and younger daughter love to play baseball and soccer, and both love to swing. My oldest will go across the monkey bars a dozen times a day- until she’s blistered and they start to pop… then she’ll stop. Summer for us means nonstop movement, and we love it. My only concern is keeping active kids healthy when they are that busy- although keeping them healthy while active is also key.
Five Ways to Keep Active Kids Healthy
Around here, we like to refer to foods that are good for our bodies as healthy grow food. Silly way to say it? Yes, perhaps. But the kids “get” the meaning and understand it. They know they can have all the healthy grow food they want, whenever they want. Balanced meals at home and on the go are essential.
I find, as many do, that if the snacks available are healthy, kids will eat them. We have a snack bin in the pantry and in the fridge that I try to stock up on Sundays, and the kids can choose from that for snacks, lunches, etc. They feel in control, I know they are having good for them foods.
2. Plan Ahead
Plan out your week ahead of time. The first few years I had kids in activities, I didn’t “get” the planning thing and too often I was throwing a quick meal together last minute or, a few times, stopping for fast food in desperation to get them fed. Take that time to look at your week- use leftovers or a crock pot to make sure you are having a balanced meal no matter how busy your week is. I honestly ended up cooking dinner in the midmornings or early afternoons on many, many occasions last school year. I had to, or we’d be scrambling (more than eggs…) to figure out a balanced meal.
3. Team and Organized Group Activities
As your kids find activities they are interested in, look for teams or groups to join. This way, they’ll be able to enjoy their activity with others who also enjoy it, but being part of a team or group also helps teach them a lot of life lessons. Coaches offer instruction to further their skills.
Make sure that your child has the proper equipment for whatever activity she or he is participating in. Footwear should fit properly, and they should wear the proper clothing/sports gear for that sport. If they are playing a sport that requires shinguards, make sure they always wear them, so that it becomes a habit to keep their shins protected.
No one can be truly healthy without proper rest. Set a bedtime and stick to it whenever possible. My oldest is in fourth grade this year- 10-11 hours of sleep is the recommended amount for her age. We try very hard to get that amount for her. We actually put our kids in bed at the same time, but the older two can read for a bit before they fall asleep.
This will be a challenge for my family this fall, as my oldest was invited to XCEL Team for gymnastics- practices are until 8:15 one night, and 9pm the next. My kids are normally in bed at 7:30, lights out by 8. We’ll have to figure out a way to adjust around those days to make sure she’s not getting too tired.
I also need to make sure I’m getting enough sleep. I’m working on it!
5. Unorganized Activities
These are some of my favorites. Go for a walk in your neighborhood. Make up a scavenger hunt for your family- grownups included- and have an adventure. Pick a local spot, pack a picnic, and play tourist in your own area. Some of my favorite family memories are from days we just decided to take a family walk, or visit a local state park- unplanned, unstructured, but very active. This way, in the off-season, you’re still keeping the kiddos busy and active. It’s great for us parents, as well!
How do you keep your active kids healthy?
This conversation is sponsored by Horizon Organic. The opinions and text are all mine.