Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Just Move It!

I have a lot of friends who lament their busy schedules, finding it hard to make time for themselves when they are busy carting kids around from one commitment another. Truth is, if we spent a little less time worrying about our kids' league play, we might find life becomes simpler, more pleasant, and in many ways leaner than before.

“Don’t fall into the trap of thinking more activities necessarily means more physical activity,” advises Dr. Todd Smith, a family practice physician in Cottage Grove, MN. Scheduling too many events for you child can mean more time in the car, a greater tendency toward eating fast food, and an increased stress level. “It’s easy for parents to have a false sense that their kids are active.” Sometimes, Smith says, you just need to “turn off the play station or television and send the kids outside.”

Or inside as it was with Maggie yesterday... Check out her 28 seconds of rock star play--it's got more jumping and movement than you see from a number of kids at her Wednesday night Introduction to Soccer class!

It's this kind of play that gets kids excited to keep moving (especially when you videotape it and let her watch it on your computer over and over again!). If you're in need of a little activity yourself, think about joining in (I'll save that video for another post!). I promise some family moments you'll never forget.

Heck, schedule time as a family to participate in fun and energetic activities on a weekly basis. It's about togetherness. By spending family time together in an active setting, you are showing children the importance of family togetherness as well as health and fitness.

Here are 10 suggestions for keeping the fitness fire alive and kicking in your family:

1. Let the kids help develop a list of potential activities.
Think about creating a list for each season of activities the whole family can enjoy together. Let the kids take turns choosing from the list each week.

2. Invest in family gear. It doesn't have to be expensive--Frisbees, bats and balls, even a water sprinkler can get the family out and running. Just make sure the kids have options and the activities focus on getting them up and moving.

3. Be patient. Use activity and fitness time to get your children excited about moving. If anyone has problems keeping up or catching on, make sure he or she doesn't feel left out or awkward.

4. Be creative. Simple tasks like washing the car, raking the yard, gardening and snow shoveling can be fun family activities. More traditional activities like walking the dog and ice-skating are fun too, but remember to keep the emphasis on time spent together being active.

5. Read books that stress healthy living. Look for books and other everyday items that include people making activity a regular part of their day.

6. Plan outdoor activities whenever possible. Get the kids out of the house. Think about setting limits for the amount of time your kids can spend in front of the television and computer.

7. Visit your local park, recreation center, or nature center. Just bringing your children to the playground on a regular basis encourages them to use their large motor skills and burn off some energy. Look for nature paths or paved park trails so kids can walk, run, or Rollerblade with you in sight.

8. Invest in the kid essentials. Buy toys and equipment that promote physical activity. Make sure your child's bike seat is at the correct height at the beginning of each summer. Seats should be just high enough to cause a slightly bent knee. Encourage and model the use of helmets for bike riding and rollerblading.

9. Emphasize fun! In order to build long-lasting behaviors, make sure kids are enjoying their physical activity. It is, after all, about building life-long habits and behaviors for the entire family!

(Saved for last because, yes, I do think organized sports are FUN! Just don't overdo it!)

10. Let your child investigate sports alternatives in organized league play. Most recreation centers offer community leagues for soccer, basketball, and more. Call your local center to get a seasonal list of athletic offerings.

Now it's your turn... What are your favorite ways you see your kids whoop it up and keep active? Are you joining in or getting a piece of the action? Post your experience here and share the fun!

Have a safe, crazy and wild week!

Laurie (the family drummer)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lost, Then Found

I almost tackled a little girl riding around Lake Nokomis the other day. She looked nice enough, but the bike she was riding was the same kind we recently had stolen from our yard.

Sadly, Cady learned about theft firsthand last week when we realized her new Trek mountain bike was stolen from our front yard (ya, I don't wanna hear it!) overnight. I spent an hour or so the next day combing the alleys in our neighborhood, with no good clues. Nothin'.

Eventually, we'd given up any hope of finding the bike. But about two days later, Tony and I went for a run along Minnehaha Creek and we stumbled upon the missing merchandise about 3 miles west of our house. The initial prognosis wasn't good. There were some severe life-threatening injuries, but there was hope we could save it.

The bike shop we bought the bike at told us the bike's injuries were terminal and there was no fixing it, that we should say our goodbyes and prepare for the worst. When I asked if they could swing us a deal since we'd just bought the bike new only a couple of months back we were offered the deal of a life time: $30 off. It felt like a joke.

It was time for a second opinion. Lots of running around, but I'm happy to say the bike will be good as new in under a week. Of course, I'm glad that the whole thing turned out pretty okay... Cady likes to tell people about what the tire on her bike looked like, that we just happened to find it while out on a run together (while skipping church nonetheless!). We'll spend less than $100 to fix the bike, which would have cost three times that to replace.

I'm still annoyed. Suddenly, my little girl has learned one more thing about life that I wasn't ready for: that we're all vulnerable to each other, which can sometimes be a scary thing. The sex talk seems much more natural to me... at least that one made her (and me) laugh a little.

Be well,

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Plan B

Sometimes everything just clicks. Friend calls and wants to take child #2 when you already have plans for child #1 to be at camp. The resulting 2 hour window of free time is exactly what I needed this week to get in a much-needed trail run at a park not too far from my house. It would take precise timing, however, to get there and back before golf camp was over.

Feeling quite super-mommy like, I jumped into my car (read: minivan) waved goodbye to both kids and hit the road right on time. It would be close, but what better impetus to push my workout a little. Was right on schedule until I hit road construction traffic on my way to the trail. After letting my favorite explicative fly (feels so freeing when the kids aren't around!), I made my move. Quickly, I exited the highway and realized I was right by the Honda dealer... Overdue for an oil change I called to see if they had time to squeeze me in. "If you can be here in 2 minutes we can take you." I could be there in 1. As I dropped the car off, I realized I had no way to pay... Then, another stroke of genius. Perhaps an act of God. I suddenly knew the destination of my run: home. I retrieved my credit card and made my way back to the dealer in just under an hour, even got the guy to apply the on-line coupons for me.

SUCCESS. I'd made it. Somehow, I'm pretty sure executing Plan B brought me more pride than Plan A would have. Just so happened I had a little bit of the one thing all fit mamas need: perseverance. I've co-authored a book that will be in stores in April, 2011. Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom is filled with different tactics for moms on the move. Nothing better than living according to our values; making it work even when it seems impossible.

Would love to hear any similar stories you have...

Here's to you and your perseverance!