It’s not been that long since we were all told to remain indoors – but for parents grappling with the realities of working from home and entertaining young children, this can seem like a lifetime.
As social distancing has become the new normal, it can be stressful at home – and very tempting to place kids in front of the TV. While this is fine for short periods, exercise is crucial – for them, for you… and for your sanity!
The NHS have recommended that children and young adults should be doing around 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a day which should include aerobic – to get the heart pumping – as well as muscle strengthening exercises. The under 5s should be physically active for at least 180 minutes a day.
Everyone is aware exercise improves physical health but it’s also true that it is vital for mental wellbeing, and this is just as true for children as it is for adults. The benefits are:
- Stress and anxiety is reduced
- Mood is improved and depression eased
- Concentration is increased
- It can help with behavioural issues
So why not keep fit together?
You’ll not only be improving your own health and helping the kids stay active, you’ll be having fun and getting some family bonding in too. And there are loads of ways in which you can do it. When playgrounds and parks are out of bounds – use the garden or just any space you have indoors.
- Go out for family walks or bike rides – keeping social distancing guidelines in mind – but give them a purpose. A prize for the person who spots the most magpies…or butterflies…or rainbows in windows. Look on the RSPB website to identify birds – and then find them. This encourages children to pay attention which improves cognitive functioning.
- Go back in time to those old-fashioned activities and party games – Hula hoops, footballs (space permitting for these two), hopscotch, bulldog, hide and seek, musical chairs and statues. All good ways to keep moving.
- Use YouTube to get workouts in your own home – Joe Wicks’ PE class is one of the most popular but there are dozens of other highly regarded people who are producing some excellent workouts.
- Make things competitive – Keep everyone engaged by doing challenges like press-ups and sit-ups or invent activities for circuit training. Measure your achievements by using the stopwatch on your phone and set daily or weekly targets.
- Involve others – We’re all social creatures so use technology to link face to face. Extend your physical challenges to other families, and see who can do the most star jumps in a set time – or send grandparents videos of yourselves doing your exercises. Older people who are completely isolated will probably love to be included.
- Stage a household treasure hunt around the house and garden – with a small prize at the end.
- Make an obstacle course – using toys, old pillows and blankets (you could even add a paddling pool if the weather is good) – then crawl over, around and under them.
- Or use upturned chairs and old sheets to build a den, castle or fort – then create a game around it.
- Throw a disco – Dim the lights, string up some fairy lights then let each family member make a playlist.
Remember that screen time is fine if well managed, so don’t let kids stay for too long watching TV or on phones and computers. Keep the usual bed and waking times and make sure to break up long periods of immobility with some form of movement. Try to involve the children when devising activities – and remember, the scope for fun is as wide as your imagination.
For more information about how we can help call us on 01925 752264