When I think of summer as a kid, I get nostalgic remembering the long days I spent at my grandmother’s pool, eating watermelon, playing with my cousins, and snacking all day long. When we weren’t swimming, we were outside running free in the neighborhood with our friends, having water balloon fights or playing at the park. This got me thinking about how my kids experience summer in a much less child-directed and physical way.
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While I’d love for my kids to run free all day long this summer, the reality is that summer is not quite the same for them.
First of all, most parents, including me, just don’t feel safe letting our kids roam the neighborhood for hours on end unsupervised. Second, with the advent of the tablet, many kids prefer to spend their time playing games or watching movies. And, third, parents these days schedule most of their children’s time for them.
Did you know that most kids between the ages of 5-10 don’t even get 1-hour of exercise a day?
1-hour is the minimum amount of exercise recommended by the government in its Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. I find it alarming that we can’t even find 60-minutes in our day to get physical exercise.
As moms, we can do better for our children’s health. We must do better for our children’s health.
Sadly, it’s not just our kids that aren’t getting enough exercise. If we take a hard look at our own daily routine, many of us would have to admit that we’re not taking care of ourselves either. As role models to our children, we can’t expect them to live healthy lives if we’re not doing the same.
I wrote about the importance of prioritizing daily self-care in an earlier post. You should take a look at it if you’re not making time to care for yourself. Daily self-care is so important for both your physical and mental health. Don’t let it fall by the wayside!
This summer I challenge you to come up with a daily health routine to keep you and your kids physically active and eating healthy.
These 5 simple suggestions on ways to keep your family healthy will help get you started:
1. Make sure everyone gets enough sleep.
Many of us get in the habit of letting our kids stay up late during the summer. And while I’m an advocate of making summer a time to relax, spend more time together, and have some flexibility on the normal school time routine, your entire family will be happier if everyone gets enough sleep.
Maintain your bedtime routine throughout the summer so your kids know what to expect. But make summer a little fun and pick out one day a week when they can stay up a little later (so long as you all can sleep in the next morning!).
2. Start an exercise routine.
Having an exercise routine is so important for your family’s health.
This doesn’t mean spending an hour having P.E. class at home. Think about ways you as a family can get out of the house and be active together.
With the longer days, you can schedule time for this physical activity right after dinner. Go for a bike ride, a hike, a swim, or spend some time at the park. This isn’t supposed to be something your family dreads doing but instead should be something fun and engaging to look forward to doing together.
3. Store up on healthy snacks.
The number one way to keeps kids eating healthy is to model eating healthy. Keep junk food out of the house as much as possible (those darn goody bags from birthday parties get me every time!).
At home, keep a fruit bowl on the counter and put out a plate of fresh veggies that the kids can nibble on throughout the day. I’m always surprised by how much fruit and vegetables my kids end up eating when it’s in plain view and they know they can access it at any time.
Don’t forget to keep summer fun and special. Consider having a once a week family outing to indulge in your child’s favorite treat. Ice cream is my family’s favorite summer treat, but frozen yogurt takes a close second!
4. Get your kids in the kitchen.
Get your kids in the kitchen. One way to form healthy eating habits early on is to teach kids about food and meal preparation. Find a healthy, kid-friendly recipe that you can make together. Kids (almost always) love to eat food that they help prepare.
Planting a garden is another great way to introduce healthy eating to your kids. My children love planting vegetables in our garden, watching them grow over time, and eventually picking and eating them.
If you’d like more ideas on teaching healthy eating habits to your kids or are looking some healthy, kid-friendly recipes, these two resources will give you some great ideas.
5. Limit screen time.
Limiting screen time is another effective way to get your kids moving. I’m an advocate of having scheduled screen time so your kids know exactly when they can play games or watch a movie. You can find more ideas on limiting screen time by reading my post 10 Ways to Limit Technology in your home.
One way to keep your daily health routine a priority is to write it down. Buy a poster board and write out your family’s daily health plan and put it somewhere in plain view. This way you’ll get everyone in the family involved in staying healthy this summer.
If you’re having a difficult time keeping up with your new routine, you can try using this 60-Day Habit Tracking Chart. I created this chart to help me come up with healthy eating and exercise habits. But it would also be a great resource to help your family develop new, healthy habits.
What are some ways you are keeping your family healthy this summer? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section below!