Children are used to walking to and from school, running around the playground, having fun during PE and possibly doing a physical after-school activity. However, since schools have been closed over the last few weeks, it has been hard for parents to maintain these sorts of activity levels for their kids.
Even if they can’t go to their favourite trampoline play centre at the moment, it is important to keep youngsters moving as much as possible, as it will not only help with their physical wellbeing, but with their mental health too.
Most parents will have quickly realised that looking after children in the house is like keeping a wild animal caged up. No matter how many TV shows, video chats with friends, and games on the tablet they play, nothing replaces being able to run around, take part in a game of tag or do cartwheels across a gymnasium.
Long distance runner Jo Pavey is a big advocate for keeping children active during quarantine, with the European Championships 10,000-metre gold medallist currently having to look after her two school-aged children at home.
Speaking with the Inverness Courier, she said dragging the kids off the sofa can really boost their mental health at this difficult time when their routine has gone out of the window and they are missing their friends and extended relatives.
“[The kids] feel happier, they enjoy that it gives them a bit of a buzz … It gives them a boost, you can tell it keeps them feeling better about themselves and feeling good,” she stated.
Going for a walk or run, setting up an obstacle course, or doing a dance class together could also be a way for the family to bond, which will help provide children with reassurance and security when their world has been turned upside down.
“If we can use the time to engage with our children and make the commitment to keep active as a family, it’s going to be good for our physical and mental health,” Pavey commented.
We all know that being active is important for our physical and mental health. It’s not just something you need to do as a grown up, it’s also essential for kids to be active when they’re young.
Embedding this idea of including activity in their daily lives from a young age will help them to keep up with these habits as they get older. A recent article for the Irish Examiner offered some advice about how to do this.
The first is to start early. It’s much easier to continue good habits as an adult if you’ve had them since childhood, so encourage your kids to be as active as possible.
Next is to lead by example. As a parent, if you show your kids that you’re active and enjoy exercise, they’re more likely to follow suit. It’s not just about doing your own exercise, it’s about exercising with them.
Doing things like running around the park or beach with them, or setting up impromptu games of football/cricket/any other sport when the opportunity arises is a great way to show them that not all exercise has to be structured.
You should also look at the options for fun, active days out in your area. Spending a couple of hours at a trampoline play centre is a great way for the whole family to get some exercise and have a lot of fun.
An article for the Guardian recently argued that kids should be given time and opportunities to play together in environments where they’re able to take risks. Playgrounds that don’t have safety barriers everywhere and that allow kids to climb, jump and run around unhindered should be introduced in more places, the article argued.
The school holidays are nearly upon us, which means mums and dads around the country will be manically trying to plan what to do with their children over the long summer break.
If the sunshine makes an appearance, it can be easy to entertain the little ones by taking them to a park or letting them have fun in the garden. However, it gets trickier when the heavens open and you can’t go outdoors.
That is why our list of rainy day ideas will be a godsend over the summer holidays.
- Trampoline Park
Something kids of all ages will love to do is head to a trampoline play centre, where there is a huge range of different-sized trampolines and a variety of activities.
Youngsters will love bouncing away, playing basketball, taking part in inflatable assault courses, and rolling through foam pits.
Older children can be a bit more adventurous when they go to their local trampoline park, but many centres also have toddler sessions so you can be confident younger siblings will be safe while having fun too.
- Make a scrapbook
Something you can start at the beginning of summer for you to do on dreary days is a scrapbook. Get your little ones involved in making a journal of their summer activities, so when it’s raining outside, you can get them to write down and draw pictures of their favourite days out.
Take out felt tips, glue, paints, scissors, and even old magazines, so they can go to town with their scrapbooks, and they’ll be more likely to stick with it throughout the whole summer – particularly if you encourage them to show it to their new teachers at the start of the next school term.
- Den building
They might want to head to the local park or nearby forest to build a den out of twigs and fallen branches, but when it’s soggy outside and the ground is covered in puddles, this can be rather uninviting.
You can still let your kids’ imaginations run wild indoors though, by getting involved in some den-building inside the house. Help them gather cushions, throws, sheets and pieces of furniture so they can create their own fort. Place some toys inside and get the fancy dress box out, and you might find this role-playing game keeps them entertained for hours!
- Cinema at home
If your kids love going to the cinema, but you’re trying to watch the pennies over the long, expensive summer holidays, why not try and recreate the cinema experience at home?
Close the curtains, make some popcorn, turn the surround sound on and invite a couple of their friends over, and they will feel as though they’re really at the pictures.
- Get baking
Most kids love cakes and biscuits, so get your little ones involved in making their favourite treats by enjoying a few baking sessions with them.
Ignore the mess and let your children go crazy measuring, mixing and moulding their creations before putting them in the oven. They’ll love getting messy in the kitchen, and are sure to enjoy their delicious treat afterwards.