They’re easy, we swear.
When my daughter was in Year 1, she had to draw a picture showing something her mum could do.
“My mum can stand,” she wrote proudly underneath a drawing of me standing still.
It was embarrassing, but not surprising, because I freely admit I wasn’t very active when my daughter was little. We spent a lot of time sitting around reading books, because that’s something I’ve always liked doing.
But as my daughter got older, and was joined by her little brother, I realised that I had to make an effort to go outside and play more often for my kids’ sake, even though I’m not a naturally sporty person.
And now, because I made that effort to be more active with the kids when they were young, they’ve grown up knowing that physical activity is just as important as reading and writing.
It’s made me think about how much we, as parents, influence our kids’ lives, and how important it is to get them active and eating well when they’re young.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Have a snack box in the fridge your kids can choose from.
Fill it full of good things that nutritionists recommend, like fruit, unsalted nuts, cheese slices, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, etc. If kids are hungry and they can’t find any chips or biscuits, they’re likely to eat what’s in there.
2. Do a fun, outdoorsy thing as a family every weekend.
Make it something you plan together. Explore nearby parks or national parks. Go bike riding (plenty of places hire out bikes, if you don’t have them). Check out adventure playgrounds (there are great new ones being built all the time). Join in fundraising walks, and you can always work your way up to a fun run.
3. Try to build a walk into your routine.
Whether it’s the school, the shop or the park, make sure you’re walking somewhere on a regular basis. If your kids are little, make walks more interesting by pointing out things like lizards and birds’ nests along the way. Take the opportunity to chat to your neighbours as you walk by.
4. Encourage your kids into different after-school activities.
Do a bit of research to come up with something that they’ll feel so passionate about that they’ll never have to be pushed into going. Think martial arts, gymnastics, hip-hop, cycling, skateboarding etc. It can also be a great way for your children to make new friends.