Enjoy life outdoors while creating healthy habits as a family.
Did you grow up climbing your abuelos’ mango tree? Or figuring out what to do with your cousins or neighbors in the backyard or front street while the adults were hanging out? Do you have good memories from that season of your life? I do! And I remember feeling energized and happy playing outdoors almost every day as a child.
Back then we didn’t have tablets, TV on-demand, online streaming, online gaming or social media. Back then, children’s active play outdoors was the norm.
The digital age combined with an overscheduled life has thrown daily active play outdoors to the bottom of the average family’s priorities, which adds another layer of complexity to the challenges we face as parents in today’s world.
According to Healthy Children, the parenting website from the American Academy of Pediatrics, children and teens spend more than 7 hours per day on average using TVs, computers, phones, and other electronic devices for entertainment. This explains why only 1 in 3 children are physically active every day and about 1 out of 3 children is either overweight or obese in the United States.
Also, did you know that overweight teens have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults? If we want our children to grow up healthy, we need to start creating healthy habits today. Physical activity, or what is called active play, is essential for their healthy development and if it’s outdoors, even better. Children need to run, climb, jump, and use their energy. If it is a time when one or both parents can participate, that’s much better, because this will help us get active with them, spend quality time as a family, and breathe fresh air.
As parents, we can be instrumental in helping our little ones become more physically active and the earlier we start, the better.
Turn off electronic devices.
Limit electronics. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours of total screen time, including TV, videos, computers, and video games, each day. Use the free time to do more physical activities with your children.
Go to a park or beach.
Breathe fresh air. Let nature relax you and your loved ones! Miami is a beautiful city with wonderful beaches and parks at almost every turn. Spot one that is close to your home, so that getting there is easy and quick. If you have a bit more time, make a list and visit a new park or beach every week. Create a habit. Make it part of your routine even during the summer. A shower will resolve the stickiness once you are back home!
Lead by example.
Don’t take your kids to a park to sit down and be on your phone. Children who see their parents living an active lifestyle will imitate and adopt the habit today and in the future.
Have fun. Jump. Run with your children. Throw them in the grass and snuggle with them. Do a race. Kick a ball. Help them learn a sport or practice one they like. Bond with your children!
Bring enough water for everyone.
Hydration is extremely important. Make sure you bring more than enough water for the children and for you. Make sure you are constantly reminding them to drink water, especially if you have a toddler or a preschooler. They can forget to drink water when they get excited about playing and running around.
Identify hidden talents.
Hanging out with your kids outdoors will give you a better sense of what they like and what they are good at. Help your children find a sport that they like and if you can incorporate a weekly class into their schedule, you can use your daily family time as an opportunity to practice or to encourage your child to show you what he/she has learned.
Don’t forget the sunscreen
Protect everyone’s skin from the sun year-round, at all times.
If you work full time and get back home in the evening…
Making time to help your family get more active is not impossible! Try to carve out a few minutes every day to take your children out for a walk in the neighborhood right after dinner. We have done it before and it works really well. Everyone breathes fresh air, the little ones drain the energy they still have left, and family active time remains a priority. Back home, a shower will relax parents and children and will get everyone ready to wind down for the day.