Summertime Family Activities: De-lazy your summer
With summer comes lots of kids lingering outdoors, splashing in pools, listlessly bike riding all day long — or so our imagination tells us. The truth paints a slightly darker, more sedentary picture. For some kids, summertime threatens not only a setback in our children's education, but also a negative impact on their activity and health, too.
Fortunately, Johnson County has a vast network of summer camps offered through various county entities that can help fill both the education and health void. Even Extension provides a variety of choices for youth through our 4-H program, and you don't have to be a 4-H member to participate.
But almost all of these camps offered throughout the county are episodic and rarely free. And for families, especially single-income-earning ones, there's little room in the budget for 12 weeks of camp fees per child.
Inexpensive ways to create activity time for your family
So, what’s a caregiver to do when school is out and the only thing kids want to do is sit on the couch and watch TV or play video games all day long? The choosemyplate.gov website offers some excellent advice on how to create an active family:
- Set specific activity times
The key to achieving any level of physical activity success is to create and commit to a routine. This idea can definitely work for kids on summer break. Before lunch, go to the park or hit the pool afterwards. After dinner, encourage the whole family to go for a walk, play Frisbee or enjoy a bike ride.
- Plan ahead and track progress
Get out the family calendar and decide what and when you’re going to do the activities. This will help keep your routine in check.
- Include work around the house
Don’t forget that chores count as activity, too. The summertime may be your only opportunity to have a completely clean house because you have so much help! If motivation is an issue, find a reward system that works for your family. Maybe let the kids pick which activity the family does that evening if they do all their chores.
- Plan for all weather conditions
Weather is always an issue in Kansas, especially during the summer when the heat can be scorching and dangerous. For these days, look to mall walking, indoor swimming or active video games to help you stay active.
- Turn off the TV/computer/tablet
Set and stick to a rule that kids only get 2 hours of screen time per day.
- Include other families
This is a great way for kids to keep in touch with their school friends. And when you plan activities with others, it’s harder to back out.
Find more tips on healthy living at the www.ChooseMyPlate.gov website on their 10 Tips Education Series page.