The perfect way to have summer fun (guaranteed to tire out your kids) is to get active and get outdoors. If your children are anything like mine, they love all things water. If there’s a pool they’re swimming, if there’s a sprinkler they’re running through it and if there’s a hose, well, someone’s getting sprayed.
When we play sports and stay active as a family, I witness my children grow into team players, building confidence, determination, and strength.
Family fitness has countless benefits for children’s mental development and family bonding.
Get outside with water play and laugh together
- SKIPPING ROCKS
- CREEK PLAY
- RUNNING THROUGH SPRINKLERS OBSTACLE COURSE
- INFLATABLE WATER SLIDE RACES
- SPLASH PADS
We recently took up kayaking because, besides the cost of the kayak and life jackets, it’s an affordable sport, great exercise, and a lot of fun.
I can say with a smile that we laughed, we shouted (ok, more like yelled) and we cheered each other on.
When we first got in the water with the kayaks, no one really knew how to work the paddles, so we spun in circles, tipped over and got tired very, very quickly.
My kids were looking to my husband and me for guidance on how to ‘work’ the kayak (aka move it in a forward direction), but we were hilariously helpless. We were learning too!
All five of us started on an even playing field —as beginners. So many thoughts settled in with me while I observed my three kids paddling and working together. As a family unit, we were helping and guiding each other. We had deep belly laughs at our inadequacies, and the experience felt so wholesome.
While tough at times, the whole family kept at it and slowly began to improve our pace and feel more confident. Persevering through frustration is a good skill for kids to learn, and I was proudly watching it all happen.
Getting active with your children builds bonds
- HEAD TO THE BASKETBALL COURT
- PLAY BABY POOL BASEBALL (a baby pool at every base)
- FRISBEE GOLF
- WHEELBARROW RACES (you’d be surprised how strong their shoulders are)
- WATER BALLOON KEEP AWAY
- BACKYARD BADMINTON
Bond-building stems from trust, comfort, enjoyment and familiarity. And, when you exercise as a family, you foster all of those feelings. When we count on each other to catch the ball, grab the flag or win a race it creates a team-spirited bond.
Together in the kayaks, we explored nature, had races, cheered for one another and extended a paddle when someone was in need. Everyone was feeling involved.
Playing sports as a family improves communication
- HAVE A RELAY RACE
- BREAK INTO TEAMS FOR AN EXERCISE CHALLENGE
- PLAY ANIMAL CHARADES
- FLY A KITE
- GO FISHING
- PLAY CATCH
- PLAY CROQUET
Just like when you’re playing a team sport, there’s a certain level of communication mastery needed to excel at the game, and through our kayaking experience, I saw just that. The kids had to be willing to take direction from one another and work together.
When you have two kids in a kayak, they have to work together in sync to get it moving forward instead of in circles. Plus, if only one person’s rowing, it’s noticeable, which really drove home the power of teamwork.
Parents lead by example with physical fitness
- RUN WHILE YOUR KIDS BIKE
- MAKE TIME EVERY DAY FOR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
- FAMILY YOGA
- HAVE A ‘YOU PICK THE ACTIVITY’ DAY
- SET UP PHYSICAL CHALLENGES BY AGE
Children are constantly observing and learning from their parents. A parent’s relationship with fitness is visible and rubs off on their kids. If fitness is part of a parent’s daily life, it becomes the norm in a child’s life.
When a child witnesses their parent push through a tough challenge, it sets the example that accomplishing a goal or beating a challenge is possible even if it’s complicated or strenuous.
Exercise is tough and sometimes uncomfortable, but when children see their parents enjoying it, they’re more likely to develop a positive view of it, focusing more on the reward than the effort.
Family fitness builds self-confidence
- TAKE PORTABLE SOCCER NETS TO THE PARK
- PRACTICE BATTING
- HAVE SWIM RACES
- SEE WHO CAN TREAD WATER THE LONGEST (psst… beat your kids sometimes and other times let them win to show their improvement)
- HAVE A JUMP ROPE CHALLENGE
- LET YOUR KIDS TEACH YOU THE NEW DANCE MOVES
Learning to do a new skill involves problem-solving, failing and trying over again. Improvement builds mental and physical strength while building self-confidence. It squashes fear and promotes hard work and determination. Heck, I enjoyed building my own self-confidence as I got the hang of kayaking.
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