The mental, physical and other benefits of getting outside are many, and a boost of nature and fresh air can be essential for kids, not to mention the adults in their lives, during times when schools are closed and regular recreational opportunities are limited. One of the best ways we can maintain good health is by being physically active on a regular basis. In fact, active kids are healthier kids who experience greater success in life. Ideally, active habits start in early childhood and continue as we grow and develop, but it’s never too late to start becoming more active.
Given the increased hours, days, and weeks we are all spending at home during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important that we all keep moving. Our future health depends on it. Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You don’t need fancy equipment to get moving or stay physically active, whether you choose to do it inside or outside. Playtime outside is great with family. If families have their own yard to play in, that is ideal. However, if a family’s only option is to play out and around their neighborhood, it’s best to keep their distance from others and not to touch objects that others have touched.
Family Bike Ride – Taking a bike ride with your children can be a good way to get fresh air, get exercise and still keep a proper distance from others. If your kids haven’t learned how yet, it’s also a great time to teach your kid to ride a bike.
Plant a garden – Gardening can help kids learn to develop motor and sensory skills. It engages their senses, encourages an appreciation for the environment and gives them a sense of accomplishment.
Backyard ‘Camping’ – If you have room in the backyard, teach them how to set up a tent and then let them hang out in there reading books, drawing, etc. For a special treat, maybe cook up some s’mores for them on the backyard grill.
Dance – Put on your favorite music or cue up a video and dance along with your kids.
Encourage reading – With libraries closed, it may be difficult to entice kids to read what books they already have. If this is the case, you can check out Amazon for affordable used books and e-books. Another option are audio books (especially for kids who are not reading on their own yet. For additional educational learning, require kids to write book reports on what they listened to or read. Have a discussion about the book’s theme with younger children.
Get cooking – Have your kids help with the preparation of simple meals, like sandwiches, soups, pasta (spaghetti, macaroni and cheese) and casseroles. Even toddlers can participate by adding already measured ingredients into a bowl and giving a stir or two. Of course, baking cookies, cupcakes and other sweets can be its on afternoon activity.
Be crafty – Keep kids occupied with creative projects. No need to spend a lot of money; use items from around your house. They can create posters for first responders to decorate your windows. They can also paint and write positive/ kind thoughts on rocks from your yard (which can be left around your neighborhood for others to discover).
Help Them Stay Connected – It is hard to be separated from friends and other family members. Make sure to connect with them —whether through a phone call, texting or online video chat. Explain to your kids that we are six feet apart right now – so we can all be together when this is all over. Just keep your kids moving for the best motivation.
How are you and your family handling staying at home? There will be brighter days ahead. Stay at home and keep your love ones safe.