One step at a time – tips to become an Active Family
by Nicole Sadlier, Mighty Movers CBR program
My Grandparent’s generation had a saying “Do as I say, not as I do.” Whether you agree with this parenting philosophy from earlier generations, it does demonstrate the power of role modelling and how our actions or what we ‘do’ help to guide our children’s behaviour.
Each time we look for a ‘park at the front’ to save us walking too far, choose a screen based activity in our leisure time or drive to the local shops instead of choosing active transport (walking/riding) we teach our children behaviours that decrease physical activity. Alternatively, when we suggest going for a walk to the local park or playground to kick a ball to relax, ride to work or meet other parents for a bush walk we share with our kids that it’s enjoyable to be active.
Becoming a more active family starts with being mindful about the choices that we make, and regularly asking ourselves the question “How can I do this task differently to make it more active?”
Here’s some tips to get you thinking about increasing active time for your family:
Active Travel to Playgroup or your local shops
Can you walk or ride to your playgroup? Your answer may be “Yes! But my child walks too slow and we’d never get there in time.” I’ve been there. My family’s solution was that I walked and pushed my child in the pram even though he could walk well but he knew that on the return journey we’d walk at his pace when we didn’t have any time constraints. If your answer is “No” – try parking a few hundred meters away from playgroup and walking the last part of your journey.
Go Chair Free
Ok, maybe not 100% of the time, but again ask yourself the question “Do we really need to sit in a chair?” This is especially true for kid’s activities like craft, play dough, drawing and morning tea that are traditionally set up at a table with chairs. Kids can easily stand at a craft table while they create and morning tea on a picnic rug means that your child is engaging their core muscles to sit as opposed to being held by a chair.
Get on Your Bike
Your child doesn’t have to be of riding age to enjoy the freedom of two-wheels. Bike seats and bike trailers make it possible for parents to get biking again with their little ones. When parents speak with me about going two-wheels with kids one of their biggest concerns is around what equipment to choose. To help you trial using a trailer: See Change have a Bike Trailer Rental project – for more information go to http://www.see-change.org.au/bike-trailer-rental/
Let your Child be Involved
Speak to any parent who let’s their child help with the vacuuming, washing the car or assist with cooking and they’ll most likely laugh about how much longer everything takes at first. However, I can promise you that by taking the time to allow your child to build life skills they actually become quite competent and helpful as they become a preschooler.
Get Fit Together
Parents often comment that they know they need to improve their fitness but cannot find the time to get to a class, gym, etc. Unless you’re training towards specific fitness goals or need some kid-free downtime, moving together as a family kicking a ball, skipping, frog hopping, running up the slippery slide, or playing chasing is guarantee to elevate your heart rate (ie improve your physical fitness), make you laugh (ie improve your mental fitness) and it’s free (ie improve your bank balance).
If you’re sitting down reading this, get up and have a 5-minute activity break! Walk around the block. Dance like no-ones watching. Chase your child around the house or yard. Start small and see if it makes you feel good!
Mighty Movers CBR is an initiative of the Bluearth Foundation run in partnership with ACT Playgroups and supported by the ACT Government under the ACT Health Promotion Grants Program. We hope it helps you, your children and your family Move More, Sit Less.
Bluearth: improving the health and wellbeing of Australian children by making movement part of everyday life.