When was the last time you saw glorious rays of sun? While I find fall and winter to be an opportune time to teach my kids about the color grey, I also remind myself that little minds don’t yet see grey (or even, gasp, rainy!) skies as a reason to hibernate.
You don’t need a ginormous backyard with extravagant toys. An old bucket, measuring cups, sticks, mud, rocks and leaves are the perfect tools to appeal to your child’s natural desire to make a mess, explore and invent.
Here are some tips to help your adventurer reach the recommended 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per day:
- Visit a playground or park right before or after school and stay for 20-30 minutes. Otherwise it’s “I don’t have time” or “it’s not convenient”. Kids who play outdoors after school get an average of 2000 more steps (aka walking an extra 2km per day), than kids who don’t.
- Ever heard of a coat? Bundle up and go outside together! Do what you’d do if it was spring, just dress for the weather.
- Play games like tag, hide and seek, freeze tag, “what time is it Mr. Wolf”, soccer etc. These games get everyone running around and before you realize it, you’re exercising together. As opposed to sipping your tall vanilla latte on a bench while Max climbs a tree. Hey at least it’s non-fat.
- Frequent a park with an obstacle course and do it 3 times together. It’s highly amusing to watch a preschooler attempt chin-ups.
- Puddle hopping! There are no shortage of these where I come from.
- Get to school any other way aside from driving.
- Sign your child up for indoor sports like martial arts or swimming if you have rainophobia.
- Visit your therapist about said rainophobia.
- Walk/run for a cause. Research upcoming walks or runs in your community that raise money for non-profit organizations and join in.
- Go to the beach and chase the waves (wear rubber boots of course).
- Get a jump rope and time your child how long he or she can jump. Compare each week to see how they have improved. The foundation of bone mass is laid down during childhood and early adolescence, and when kids do high impact activities (like jumping) their bones get stronger. Osteoporosis prevention anyone?
- Less than 10% of kids meet Canadian physical activity guidelines. Less than 10%?? How atrocious. What’s the family doing after work/school? Make a plan. Get the family involved. Stick with it.
- Get kids to rake leaves, shovel snow or carry groceries. This is possible. I’ve got my 2-year-old schlepping bags for me all the time.
- Some indoor “rainy day acitivities” get the blood pumping (hide and seek, jumping on the couch, indoor sports, treasure hunts) but most are sedentary. By all means paint, bake and read, just balance it with energetic movement.
Any other ideas? What’s your favorite outdoor activity?