Many of us have wonderful memories of growing up and playing outside, carefree all summer. But today’s kids are more likely to be spending time in front of their mobile devices, computer, or TV. This can lead to being sedentary, feeling isolated, and getting bored.
If we can help kids play and be more active, it will benefit them physically and emotionally Plus, when they are happily occupied with a new activity, they won’t be complaining about having nothing to do. And that means a happier summer for us parents, too.
If you’re stumped, or just need a few more ideas to add to your arsenal, here’s how to encourage your kids to stay active all summer long (short of locking them outside until dinnertime).
Make a bucket list of fun summer activities
No matter how much they look forward to being out of school, summer can feel like one long, hot, boring stretch for kids and teens. Keep things exciting by making a “bucket list” of things they want to do this summer. Crossing things off the list is an exciting way to motivate kids to stay active, and you could even have small rewards for accomplishing activities on their list.
Beat the heat with water-based fun
When the heat hits, there’s nothing like time in or around water. Even if you don’t have access to a pool or lake, water-based fun is still attainable. Have a water balloon or squirt gun fight. Buy a small kiddie pool for the backyard. Visit a local creek or river. Try a new activity, like stand-up paddle boarding.
Make it a family affair
The more time you can spend with your kids modeling active behavior, the better! Try going for a family bike ride, taking a yoga class together, or anything else that sounds fun for everyone.
Turn your backyard into an obstacle course
You don’t have to go full-on American Ninja Warrior for this one — simply use things you already have around the house to create an obstacle course or circuit of activities. You could try:
- Hula hoops
- Jump ropes
- Push-ups, jumping jacks, and other bodyweight exercises
- Appropriately sized rocks for jumping over or moving from one side of the yard to the other
- Water balloons
- Toe touches and other stretches
You can even up the ante by turning it into a competition based on time, and depending on the course you create, it’s easy to keep the course set up all summer long.
Start a nightly or weekly family ritual
Creating a new, active family ritual can take on any number of forms, and that’s the best part. You could do one of the activities suggested in this article on a regular basis, but here are some additional ideas to try:
- Plan a weekly family hike.
- Go for a walk or bike ride after dinner each night.
- Commit to a weekly, or bi-weekly, weekend camping trip.
- Take a day trip to somewhere new