I get it. I know having little ones (or even big ones) under foot all the time can make it REALLY difficult to exercise or stick to our workout plans.
But, what if we quit using our kiddos as our excuse not to be as HEALTHY as we can and instead we started using them as our reason, as our WHY for making healthy choices? I know for me, that is when it all came together. When, I started incorporating my daughter into my fitness plan, it stopped seeming like so much of a challenge to have her be a part of it, ended up being better for both of us.Little ones can make it tough to stay active. Find new ways to get active with your kids instead of in spite of them that you can incorporate every day.
Now, we started out really simple.
As I was exercising, I’d put her in her jumperoo or exersaucer so that she’d jump and move around as I exercised. She not only loved watching mommy (look like a crazy woman), but she also got the benefit of me setting the example for her and getting a little extra activity time herself. As I was talking to another one of my mama friends, she shared what a difference it made once she extended this same idea even beyond just doing her workout, so I figured other moms out there could benefit from it too!
I think we often look at our healthy lifestyle as a personal thing, even though most of the women I work with share that they want to be healthier for their families. So, I want to help you make that shift from it just being personal and just being something you are doing to it being about you and your family and making this HEALTHY living something your family works at together. And, what better way to start than with a few ideas on how to active with your kiddos! Now, these activities don’t necessarily take the place of a separate program for you as a mama, but they are a great way to get a little more activity into your day with your kids so that everyone gets the benefits of a little extra movement and calorie burn.
Activities to Do with Littles (Under 5)
I know that the younger your kids are the more challenging it is to find activities that work for everyone. But, if you’re a little creative it’s totally doable! Here are a few of my favorite ideas.
1. Go for a Walk
I’ve walked with my daughter since she was born, and it’s definitely refreshing for both of us.
Getting out in the air and sunshine helped her adjust her days and nights when she just came home from the hospital, too! I carry her in the wrap or push her in the stroller, but toddlers and up can walk alongside you. Make it more fun by playing “Eye Spy” or making it a “Scavenger Hunt.”
2. Have a Dance Party
Stuck in the house? No worries! You can still get active by turning on some music and getting your groove on! I love this one too because it starts teaching little ones rhythm from an early age. (Grace loves to dance around with us and just laughs and giggles the whole time.)
3. Make It a Part of Everyday Activities
Because little ones don’t necessarily have the stamina or attention span to do a “workout,” incorporate it into other parts of your day. Going grocery shopping? Have your toddler walk. Going to the library? Park farther away and walk the rest of the way. It’s easy to incorporate these calorie burners into your day as well as your little ones.
4. Make Up Games
An evening watching your favorite show as a family isn’t going to give you much activity, but if you make it into a game and take “fitness breaks” on commercials, everyone will get a little extra burn. Consider playing “Coach” and take turns giving everyone else exercises to do. Or, try “Follow the Leader.” You can even just do challenges like who can do the most sit-ups or push-ups on the break.
Ideas for Older Kids (Over 6)
Kids over the age of 6 are beginning to understand the concept of needing physical activity, so you can start making their activities a little more “formally” exercise. If you want to get older kids active, consider adding in a few of these activities.
1. Have a Weekly Sports or Fitness Night
Try a new spin on the old favorite “Family Game Night,” and make it a “Family Fitness Night.” You can incorporate any number of activities from a ball game to a jog or even a hike. Stuck inside? No worries! You can still perform challenges indoors.
2. Do Some Yard Work
We all know there aren’t enough hours in the day, so why not double up on what you’re doing? Get a little workout in at the same time you’re doing some yard work with your kids. Gardening is comparable to weight training, and raking is a great cardio exercise. Make it a family affair, and have your younger ones sort the leaves.
3. Walk the Dog
Walking the dog is another great way to incorporate a daily chore with a healthy habit. Don’t have a dog? No worries. Go looking for dogs (or any other animals) in your neighborhood. This approach sounds more attractive to kids than just going for a walk alone.
4. Train for a Race
Want to really teach your child the value of exercise and giving back to the community? Consider signing up for a fundraising race as a family. Then, spend the weeks leading up to the race preparing and training for it.
Including your kids in your fitness plan is one of the best ways to make sure you get a little extra movement in your day. Plus, it helps you teach your little ones the value and importance of exercise and makes them feel included in the process. These activities don’t substitute a good workout for me, but they definitely serve as a good pick-me-up for my daughter and I both when we get in a “slump” during the day. I try to do an extra activity like this as frequently as I can to make it a healthy family habit for all of us.