My husband is in IT and therefore has a love of everything attached to a screen, the TV, computers, iPads, Smart phones, you name it … he probably has 3 of each of them (all in different states of disrepair of course).
I think my kids’ have genetically acquired his IT gene; resulting in a little more screen time to-date than I’m comfortable with … in reality, it is probably me using these devices to “babysit” the children which has caused our daily habits to head in the wrong direction.
We’ve all seen the statistics, 63 per cent of adults and around one-quarter of children in the ACT are overweight or obese and this obviously presents a huge health risk. I don’t want to put my kids in the position where they struggle with weight or chronic diseases so things are starting to change in our house!
My twins started school in January, I changed jobs and these two things combined resulted in a massive lifestyle overhaul. Well, that was the intention. In reality, it resulted in me aiming way too high and failing, then after a couple of weeks, putting a plan in place to make some small changes, something we could easily achieve.
One of my New Year resolutions was to become more organised and I’m not kidding when I tell you that I bought four, yes FOUR, large pin boards, took the art off my walls and the house is now decorated with photos of the children, their artwork and LISTS.
For some reason I come up with great ideas at night, but when the time comes to use them I forget. Hence the lists.
So I’d like to share with you some of the items I have on my “Less screen-time activities” list, some simple ideas on how to, basically, minimise screen time for kids and get them out and about… and active, without leaving the house!
10 fun and active things you can do at home
1. The mini bike / scooter ride
Head to your nearest footpath and let the kids ride up and down the block. To keep it entertaining now that my big boys are 5, I set little challenges, “Ok boys, when I yell out stop you have to stop” (of course I always stop them when they are going UP the hill but not always on the way down!).
2. The afternoon challenge
Grab a scrap of paper and send your kids on a mini treasure hunt, if they’re not old enough to read, draw pictures as clues, or give them one challenge at a time. Go find a ball, bring me 3 small sticks and 2 big rocks, draw a picture of our family on the blackboard, run around the house 3 times, give me 20 star jumps soldier etc.!!!
3. Mini dance off
Close the curtains, dim the lights and have the kids groove along to the music. When you switch the music off they have to freeze like statues.
This one is a little sneaky as it helps me stay on top of the gardening. I’ve bought the kids their own gardening tools and they love to put their gloves on and use their “tools” in the garden. Set a goal of finding 20 weeds each and putting them in the wheely bin.
5. The obstacle course
Create an obstacle course down the hallway with pillows and chairs and set the rules on how they are allowed to go through it. On small pillows my kids have to jump over with 2 feet, on the bigger pillows they can jump over in any way they like, they go under chairs and we add round abouts with random objects.
6. Build a car track
Build a car track with random objects from around your house. The possibilities are endless and this would easily becomes one of your family’s favourite kids’ activities at home. Sometimes we put electrical tape all over the floor and sometimes we make a cardboard track down the stairs. If you make the track huge then they’ll be active just playing with it.
7. Skipping rope
Tie one end of the skipping rope to a pole and teach them to skip.
8. Totem tennis/ball sports
Play catch, throw the ball to the dog, play totem tennis, play handball.
9. Traditional kids games
Play games like:What’s the time Mr Wolf, Simon Says and stuck in the mud.
10. Backyard Playgrounds
If you don’t own any playground equipment, and you only buy one thing, buy a trampoline. It’s the one piece of equipment that kids never seem to get sick of … particularly if you jump too ;).
I really think the key is to have a list of ideas that work in your own backyard, nothing to extravagant, activities that are practical and easy. For some great game ideas including picnic blanket games, a sensory hunt and game cards to get the kids moving outdoors visit the Good Habits for Life website.
While you’re on the Good Habits website, do their quiz to receive a customised program for your family, with great ideas on getting active and healthy and some fantastic recipes.
When I think back to my own childhood, it’s the fun and simple activities that we did regularly that I remember… I hope to give my kids the same memories.
ACT Health run a range of programs to support you and your children t set good habits sch as Fresh Tastes: healthy food at school and Ride or Walk to School. Check out these programs here.