Today’s Training: 7.5 mile tempo run- ended with 8 hill repeats on death hill! The hill won again. I love Wednesdays! Time for a breather!
Remember Mother May I? How about Red Light Green Light? Tag? Hide and Seek? Being outside until your parents had to drag you in…?
One of my passions is keeping our children healthy and active. And with the obesity rate of children between ages 2 and 17 at 17 percent, I think it’s a pretty important passion. It probably starts there because chubby babies are so damn cute:) Children who are overweight in childhood are more likely to become overweight adults. Let’s start them now, eh?!
Why are kids getting bigger? Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. It’s hard for me to understand the video game craze, because when I was a kid, my parents had to drag us in from the outside. Today, many children would rather sit on the couch and play games. I’m not saying I didn’t play Nintendo, but it got boring. And I didn’t carry a handheld with me when I couldn’t be with it at home. I get super frustrated when I see kids glued to their DS stuff while they’re walking. It’s rude. Just put it down. Look, I can’t say I have a child at that age, and I understand peer pressure- but I do know that I will teach my kids respect. And along with that, there will be limits.
Above all else, it’s not healthy for them to be so intuned to these fake worlds instead of our real one. How are they going to be our future if all they do is live in a fantasy world? Well, for me it starts with health. Children by nature are active, and I think it’s up to us to keep them that way. The minute they can walk, they’re on the go go go. If you assume 100 calories are burned in one mile, think of how many miles children run on top of their high metabolism. There is no reason they should be overweight if we let them live by instincts. Obviously nutrition is a big part, and I’ve talked about that. Today is all about getting them moving!
These are my goals as I raise my children (I’m assuming I’ll have more!), I will follow the best I can.
1. Give my children toys that encourage physical activity. At least 60 minutes a day. Balls, bikes, jump ropes, swingsets, sidewalk chalk. Things that draw them outside! I’ll make them a tree fort- come on! I could have spent days in that when I was little!
2. Take them places that encourage physical activity. Playgrounds, hiking, camping- there are so many free places in our area to take kids it’s crazy. Get involved in community programs. Afterall, it’s cheaper than a new video game!
3. Reduce their time with electronics and TV. Set a limit- one or two hours each day of technology total. Have them read book! Lots of books! Don’t let them have TVs in their rooms. Turn the tv off and spend time together, even if it’s rainy out. I do not put Brax in front of the tv when I’m making dinner. I put him in front of our pots and pans in the kitchen with me, and he plays me music to dance to while I cook. We rock out. Actually, we don’t even have cable- we rarely watch tv. I didn’t have cable growing up and I survived just fine. Make movie time a special time with me.
4. Make it fun. Don’t force them into sports if they don’t want to, or they’ll rebel (it’s OK if they don’t run!). See what comes naturally. Maybe they just like nature and want to do experiments outside- fine! Feed their passions- help them discover them. Every child has one or more passion that does not include video games- I’m sure of it. When I run in races, I bring Brax to every one. He gets to be a part of the crowd and cheer me on and he LOVES it. I hope he wants to join in the kid’s fun runs when he’s ready- because it’s exciting! He’ll be just like Mommy! Do boys want to be like Mommy?
5. Don’t make food a reward all the time. Don’t say, “You did good, here’s an Oreo!” Or “Please be quiet, eat this chocolate.” (I’ll admit, I’ve done this in church a time or two- it works for 2 seconds). I won’t let them attribute good behaviors to food. Make experiences a reward (it’s cheaper). Go to the park because they ate well. They got an A!? Great, time to go to Strong Museum! Make snacks healthy and fun- I’ve written about some fun ideas! Say, “Well you did try that kale, so you can have an extra 15 minutes of tv time.” Keep it simple and small. Make them appreciative.
6. Let them use their MIND. For imagination and for learning. It makes me sad that children don’t use them as much today. Make believe. Read. Games using just a stick and a ball. Simplicity. What happened to that? Even I fall into the “I MUST HAVE EVERY TOY FOR MY CHILD” syndrome. All he needs is a box and a spoon and Brian and I. He can have all his toys surrounding him, but he’s most happy when we’re engaged with him.
7. BE A POSITIVE EXAMPLE! Huge one. Giant. They’ll watch EVERYTHING I do. If I eat the green veggies, Brax is more likely to, too. I can’t be a hypocrite to my children. How can I expect them to make good choices if I don’t make them myself? Brax will learn how important being healthy and active is to Bri and I, and choose his own activities. Play WITH them. Don’t sit inside and send them out- go run around and make the trees bases and play kickball. I know I will feel busy and tired, but I won’t fall into the too busy to play with the kids thing. They deserve it.
Some healthy “incentives” I’ve come up with I’ll try when they’re old enough:
–Making charts of a “child marathon.” Have the kids run around for an hour each day- every hour=1 mile. When they finish the marathon, we do something fun. I can even draw it out to .5 miles for each hour- then at the end of that, we go on a fun weekend getaway.
–Make a summer/fall/winter/spring bucket list. Have them be involved in making it. Each Saturday we’ll choose one thing from it (ex. trip to the zoo, sledding, pumpkin patch, museum), and go do that activity.
–Make them an obstacle course or scavenger hunt outside- or inside. I can’t WAIT to do this. Throw in all the bells and whistles I have around the house. Time them. Make them all winners. Go for ice cream after- they earned it!
–Have them help you make the shopping list and recipes. Have each child choose a healthy recipe for dinner one night. Have them get all the groceries for their recipe at the grocery store. Because they had a hand in the process, they’re more likely to eat it.
–Establish a completely unplugged night once a week. Nothing- no tv, video, phones. Spend time playing games or going outside as a family. We already have this one night a week and it’s wonderful- we play games and talk. We read. Lately, I’ve been coming home and just putting my phone upstairs all night. I was getting so annoyed with myself for checking it all the time- What the hell is more important than giving 100% of myself to my husband and child for a couple hours?!
There are challenges that come with being a parent, and I don’t have a lot of experience in it yet. I imagine that it gets harder and I know I won’t follow these perfectly all the time. But I think sometimes we as parents make it even harder than it has to be- it’s as simple and going for a family walk after dinner or just turning off the tv and playing. I have a great Mom who kind of taught me what I know. She didn’t have a lot, so she worked with what she did have. I won’t give in to everything the kids want- I will teach them how they can use the resources that they have around them. These are so much more fun anyways. I still remember the toilet paper box fort we had when we were kids- best thing EVER. I’ll teach them all the games we played when we were little. I want my children to be even better than I am. And their children will be twice as better– isn’t that a nice outlook for our future?