As moms sometimes, we struggle with ways to develop healthy habits with kids. We try to model healthy behaviour but not all of it seems to work, especially as our children hit the pre-teen and teen years. So, what can we do? How can we motivate them to put down their phone and get moving? Get out into nature and be physically active? We know that they need to develop these healthy habits early in life so that they carry them through into adulthood. The questions is…how does a mom make this happen when all her kids want to do, is everything but get moving?
First of all, we can’t give up. We need to try many different ways and activities in order to find the one that sticks. Then when we see that there’s a spark of interest, even a small one-we must jump on it and find ways to make it even more interesting to them.
Let’s break down the process of developing healthy habits with our kids into small steps.
A great way place to begin is with quality family time. Pick one day a week and declare it “Family Activity Day”. On this day, be sure to clear your schedule of all work commitments so that you can properly focus on your children. Don’t tell your children that this plan is about getting in more exercise or being healthier. Often kids will rebel against the idea just based on what you want to get out of it. Simply let them know that you feel more quality family time will be beneficial for the family and that you have some new and exciting ways to do it. Movies and shopping are fun but it’s good to try new things. Especially if those ideas involve new ways to work together to a common goal.
This is a day when you will need to set aside a minimum of two hours to be together. If you can do more, even better! However, if two hours is all you can manage it’s still a great place to start. You’ll want to have enough time to actually do the activity and also be able to chat with your child and enjoy the process. Even the commute time to and from the chosen activity is important. Commuting by car, bus, train or even walking can all be fabulous quality time.
Active Options That You Can Do Together
Come up with two options for a healthy active work out. Check out this list for some ideas!
- Hiking -find a local hill and hike up to the top. Enjoy a healthy picnic and the view!
- Biking -biking is a great way to explore your city and new areas.
- Rock Climbing -indoor or outdoor, this is an exhilarating & great team building activity!
- Canoeing, kayaking and other water sports –
- Parcours -Ninja gym inspired workouts that make great family fun and killer workouts!
- Martial Arts -often done with a partner making it a great workout and family choice!
- Jogging-start slow, walk, jog when you’re ready but talk and explore as you go!
- Cardio dance class -dancing lifts your mood and your feet!
- Spin class -this is indoor biking to music and a light show, exciting and a great workout!
- Yoga -stretch, strengthen and build your relationship and your muscles!
- Skiing -fabulous family activity, weather permitting of course!
- Skating -indoor or outdoor, skate along a frozen lake or canal and enjoy the fresh air!
- Snowshoeing -great alternative to jogging in the winter!
- Hockey, Tennis, Badminton, Basketball -make your family team and get moving
Choose two family activities and then let your children know that they will be the ones choosing the activity for that day. If you have multiple children, they can alternate choosing the activity each week.
The goal here is to allow the choice from a list that you have already pre-approved. That way they feel that they have some control and are more likely to be active and willing participants. You could give your kids a training plan filled with professionally created kids exercises but it won’t have the same effect. In order to create life-long healthy habits, you must show your kids that working out and being active is fun. It’s more than just for the workout, it can be an exhilarating and bonding experience.
This is a tough one for parents and kids alike. However, we must change our own habits before we can change theirs. During this “Family Activity Day” declare that you will be turning your phone off in order to focus on being present during your time with them. Let them know that this time is not about taking pictures and posting them for the world to see. It’s not about checking email and apps. It’s about old-fashioned quality time, talking, bonding and helping each other to learn something new.
As parents, we know what it was like to live without technology. Our childhoods were not glued on a screen and that was a great thing. We now need to teach our kids how to enjoy some of those same benefits. Socialization has become so digitally based that our kids often don’t know how to live without it. So, we must model it. Put down your phone and get outside. As a group, as a family, as a team. The benefits will go beyond the physical.
Exercises for Teen Girls
Teens can be especially hard to motivate. Especially when it comes to exercises for teen girls. Often the pull of their friends and spending time with them takes precedence over anything else. Teen girls even more so than boys. So, what’s a mom to do? How can we provide our teens with the motivation to be healthy and work out while still spending time together?
The above “Family Activity Day” supports this idea but be warned…your teen might tell you that they don’t want to participate. The trick is to let them know that this is not optional. Even a sulking teen will probably still enjoy themselves even if they refuse to show it. Maybe not the first time, or even the second but after a while, it will become easier and a new normal within the family.
Letting your teen have choices is crucial. Let her be the first of the family to choose the activity. Let her put forth suggestions that may not be on your list. And…here’s the best one. If she complies and participates with a good attitude, after a few weeks you can encourage her to bring a friend along too! Friends make everything with teens easier!
Open Family Day to Friends
So, although this family time, sometimes we need to be flexible. After a few weeks of trying different activities, you will have figured out some of your children’s interests a little bit better. Maybe your son loved rock climbing or your daughter’s face light up during that Zumba dance class. It might be time to suggest that your child brings along a friend the next time.
Remember, this is first and foremost family time. So, bringing two, three or more friends is not the idea here. The idea is to encourage your child to share their new-found active lifestyle with others. Just like you did with them, the first time. One friend at a time is best. If you have multiple kids, then each could have one day to bring a friend-just not all of them at the same time!
This works really well with teens. Since they’re primary focus is on their peers, being able to share something they enjoyed with them makes your child’s participation and dedication that much stronger. Keep the rules the same though…no selfies or internet surfing during the designated activity! This is still family time, even if it’s with a friend.
More Than a Work Out
Although the initial goal was to create healthy habits with your kids, to motivate them to exercise and develop life-long habits that will be beneficial, there’s also much more. Kids exercises and just that, exercises. The goal should be to help them develop an understanding and a love for the outdoors, for movement and for everything their body can do. Working out creates endorphins and if taught to recognize that feeling of happy hormones rushing through the bloodstream, they are more likely to latch on to this idea of exercise. Working out should be about doing something that is fun, something social and enjoyable. The bonus is the healthy benefits to the body.
When to Start
The younger the better! It’s never too early to live an active lifestyle with your children. In fact, the earlier you begin and start designating active family activities; the easier it will be to maintain this long term. But don’t despair if your kids are already pre-teens or teens and you haven’t done it yet. Even if your kids are resistant to the idea of working out and moving their bodies, it can still be turned around. It may be harder to get them going the first few times, but it can be done. Mostly by focusing on having quality time together in new ways and exploring your city. Leave the exercise part out of the conversation with teens. Talk only about much fun it will be to start doing things that you’ve never done before. Spending time together in new ways. Team building and bonding as a family.
When it comes down to it, it’s our job as moms to model an active lifestyle. This is great for us on a personal level and for them as well. Just as importantly, if we can do this together we will create more than just healthy habits with our kids. We will develop stronger relationships with them. Kids exercises can include anything from sports, to family ski day to rock climbing. It doesn’t have to be the typical. In fact, thinking outside the box is best!
Remember to allow your kids to be involved in the process so that they are more committed to participating. And as for those tricky teen girls? Exercises for teen girls are important for their health but also for their emotional well-being. Help your daughter to discover something she can share with a friend. This will help her to want to continue the activity, both for herself and with others. Ultimately, it’s about creating an active family lifestyle. Better relationships and better health will along come with it!
What kind of exercises do you do with your kids? I would love to read new tips and ideas for kids activities, so leave a message below and share your thoughts!