Move your body and include the kids too!
Just like their parents, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children need dedicated time for physical activity. Experts acknowledge that even though toddlers and preschools are “busy” in their movements and play, that general “busy-ness” is not a substitute for intentional, dedicated exercise and activity time.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that school-aged children and teens should be active for 60 minutes a day, every day. Ideally, three of those days include muscle and bone-strengthening activities (like body-weight or weight-bearing exercises, sometimes referred to as “heavy work”), and every day should include aerobic activity. A portion of this activity guideline may be included in the school day, in either recess, gym class, or before or after school activities.
So, how can we care for our own bodies as parents while also teaching our children to care for their bodies? We can do a lot of activities together!
0 to 12 months
- Tummy time, tummy time, and MORE tummy time! Check out the Tummy Time Method and Mama OT websites for guidance on why and how to engage in Tummy Time with your little one. A minimum of 5 episodes a day is recommended.
- Exercise in your living room while the baby is close by, and even while babywearing. Or, go for walks or jogs with an appropriate stroller, or go hiking or attend a barre class while baby-wearing.
- Play indoor chase with your crawlers and early walkers, head outside with appropriate clothing, hats, and gloves to run around a playground or kick a ball in the yard, or go to an indoor playground.
2 years and older, especially through early elementary school
- Cosmic Kids Yoga is so fun! They have their own app with new content, or you can find older videos on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video. Cosmic Kids has yoga routines starting at about 15 minutes long, with themes like Star Wars, Frozen, and Pokemon. The instructor, Jamie, weaves story-telling in with active yoga poses and breathing. The whole family can enjoy this together!
- Go on a walk or bike ride in your neighborhood, or head to a greenway that is traffic-free.
- Grab a couple of these foam cubes and insert slips of paper with different exercises on them, like 10 push-ups, 30-second jumping jacks, 30-second jogging in place, 20 air punches, etc., and take turns rolling the “die” to create a workout that’s new each time. And you can do it inside or out! You can turn this into a game with friendly competition by creating teams or setting timers for each exercise.
- Play backyard football or soccer as a family.
- For elementary and older, video games could be a component of staying active, at least sometimes! Many game systems have interactive games like Zumba Dance Party with 20 or 40-minute workouts, and the throw-back Wii Sports includes baseball, tennis, and bowling. Mix it up!
- Keep things fresh by writing activity ideas down on slips of paper and keeping them in a jar in your kitchen. When it’s time to plan the weekend or just time to get moving, have a child select the workout for the day.
- Games can really get people of all ages moving! When is the last time you played Twister? Ever tried that with kindergarteners?? You’ll get a good laugh along with a good stretch.
But it’s cold! I’m nervous to get the baby or toddler outside in the freezing weather.
Fear not! It’s all about the appropriate layers. The Free Forest School blog shares expert advice from a mom in Minneapolis on how to dress appropriately for outdoor playtime in colder months. A base layer, sweater or sweatshirt, warm socks, appropriate footwear (might have to fight with your toddlers over this), a coat, and hat and gloves will cover everyone from parents down to baby. Here’s a hot tip: socks make perfect mittens for little ones! Use your own discretion: if you aren’t comfortable with getting outside, keep the workout inside with some of the ideas we shared here.
What’s your favorite way to get a family workout in?
Heather Price is an integral part of the Baby+Company Nashville education team. Formerly a high school English teacher and district-wide mentor for a Middle Tennessee public school system, she is now a trained childbirth educator and labor doula. She completed her childbirth educator training with the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) and is certified as an ICCE. She has also recently become a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. Teaching and learning course through her veins, and she is an enthusiastic and compassionate facilitator in the classroom. A most useful part of her training so far has been that of preparing for, birthing, and mothering her own two little ones.