Let’s dive into some ways to keep your family active, while also being mindful of our own experiences and how they can help us in our quest to be the best parents for our kiddos.
Super Active Games
My kids have become super sweaty when it comes to playing their Nintendo Switch. Super Mario Party includes plenty of games that require them to be incredibly active. My kids could probably be less active as they go through the motions to complete each competition, but let’s be honest: That is definitely not their style. Their arms flail, legs bounce, and their entire bodies shimmy this way and that way. Plus, they’re usually hooting and hollering in some fashion to emphasize how much fun they’re having.
Every single time they play this video game, we hear their activeness and see how much of a workout they’ve gotten. Whether it’s avoiding being slammed by an opponent or working together to win a contest, my kids dive headfirst into their Nintendo gametime. This type of active engagement even includes their Mario games with that old-school, side-scrolling feel, like New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, when the goal is to conquer a castle at the end of each round.
If a video game option isn’t up your kids’ alleyway, then possibly play some kind of charades or balancing contest. Our kids are usually pretty expressive, so it’s not uncommon to find them running in place or making all kinds of dramatic motions during charades. As for the balancing contest, this can come in the form of the classic game, Twister, or each kid can squaring off against one another. They’ll balance on one leg at a time, and each one will stay in place or hop up and down to maintain their balance, until one of them comes crashing down.
Our kids even enjoy using a stopwatch on our phone to see how long they can balance on each leg. This can go quick or surprisingly long, but be warned: Their legs will be sore the next day. They even love creating their own balancing obstacle course from time to time. Another fan-favorite in my home is to have the kids follow me; running in place to plank position and back again. My kids usual giggle the entire time, but it can turn into quite the workout. I’ve also recently ramped up this activity by adding jumping jacks, sit-ups, and push-ups.
Again, they will be sore the next day, but these are fairly simple activities to keep me and my kids active. Will it be easier now that spring weather is hopefully around the corner? Yes. Do I still need ideas, because I live in a wacky weather zone where it can be 60 and sunny one day, and then low 20s the next? Yes. I’m looking at you Maryland.
Why Being Active Is an Important Counterbalance
As far back as I can remember, many of my earlier days revolved around going down to my local basketball court. There came a point in time when going down was a daily thing, so the idea of playing video games was never an issue. My early dream of aspiring to follow in Michael Jordan’s footsteps, or any North Carolina Tar Heels’ for that matter, was something I greatly aspired to achieve.
Despite not being a great player, this exercise was always in my life, so playing video games (while always listening to music) was never a big deal. I want to try and instill that same notion with my kids, providing a solid balance of physical activities blended with reading or game time. I’m not expecting this to be a perfect science, but introducing my kids to physical or STEM activities will keep their bodies and minds engaged, which will hopefully allow for an interest in a variety of activities as they get older.
The perfect example of this happened the other day when my kids decided to create their own experiments. They took out a microscope and decided they wanted to create their own experiments. They grabbed paints, soap, water, and started combing different mixtures to look under the microscope. They were completely excited to have the independence to complete these experiments on their own, while also wanting to share their results as they created new specimens to highlight underneath the magnifying glass.
This might not be a physical activity, but I’m hoping their creativity will be a positive step towards letting them engage in independent activities, while providing a nice balance between different kinds of “play time.”
Moderation in Life Is Key, Dude
I’m not saying my kids should take Tae Kwon Do lessons to turn themselves into Daniel LaRusso or some kind of mutant turtle. Can it be a useful way to learn self-defense and enhance focus? Sure. Is it needed to connect with some of our favorite characters in pop culture (or teach life lessons)? Not at all.
I may have never been an official Ninja Turtle, but I sure ate pizza like one when I was younger. One thing to pass down to my kids is to make sure they understand moderation. Let’s just say it wasn’t difficult for me and my best friend to finish our own medium-sized Pizza Hut pizzas. Plus, candy and maybe ice cream, and that was after polishing off a dozen donuts earlier for breakfast. I was a human garbage disposal, so I understand the hunger pains of growing up.
Yes, my kids might be giants and they also need to fuel up with their weekly doze of pizza, but I want to make sure they know not to overdo it. Eating until you feel full is not the way. Much like anything, moderation is key, even though moderation will prevent them from fully transforming into a giant turtle. The best I can do is to share my love of fun words by always making sure to say “Dude” and “Awesome” at least once a day.
Try and Take It Easy (or Super Cheesy) Even When Stress Is Overwhelming
The best piece of advice I can give to parents is to realize your kids are kids, and you’ve only been a parent for those many years. Life is not going to be perfect, so don’t try to be perfect. I think we all need to be able to cut ourselves some slack, because as smart and kind and mature as our kids can be, they’re still so young. My kids are currently 7 and 9, and I often find myself so worried about so many different things. I’m lucky to have an amazing partner who will talk with me to see the bigger picture.
Our kids are healthy, happy, and they’re thriving. I don’t have all the answers, and sometimes I need to remember that simple fact. Being a parent is a great and wonderful thing, but I need to recognize that exercise, TV time, what they’re eating, and all of life’s other things will all work itself out. What’s even more important is to let ourselves step back and take a breath once in a while. Or blast an amazing song to the max!
So, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed for any reason, you are not alone. Parenting is not easy and answers are not always forthcoming, but you love your kids and them knowing that fact means all the world. Take some time to run in place as a family, watch your kids balance on one leg, and maybe let your kids eat one more slice of pizza now and again, or make them the most buttery and cheesiest grilled cheese imaginable. It will be okay, and you have a friend here if you need me.
Until next time, friends, happy parenting and happy geeking.