Last year I made the AfL parent promise.
The goals were to:
- Make time for daily outdoor play
- Enjoy being active as a family
- Be active role models
It wasn’t a hard decision to make. I have pledged these promises to my kids from the moment they were born. Mostly because as a parent I find it horrifying that my children’s life expectancy does not exceed my own. What I didn’t expect is that these promises would be challenged by other goals our family held and my own personal health.
Making time for daily outdoor play
My kids LOVE playing outside. Around our farm and yard, we have set up mud kitchens, tree swings, and places for them to dig in the dirt. Between bikes, and just plain old amazing willow trees, our backyard truly provides a feast for the imagination. My husband and I both encourage our children to explore, with a few boundaries, most of them of the barbed wire variety.
In terms of finding time for play, we find that the morning after breakfast or right after lunch provides ideal times. We help them slap on the sunscreen or zip up the snowsuit and get out there. We try to follow their lead in terms of what they want to do. Sometimes they want to take a hike around our trail or explore in the pond with us, other times they can’t wait to get out and dig in the mud. On days that a little encouragement is required, we ask them to “check up” on the sunflowers they planted, water the plants on the deck, or whip out new paint for a tree or snow painting project.
Enjoy being active as a family
Although this has been easy for us in the past, juggling one full-time job, farming part-time, and acreage maintenance made this more difficult. We focused more on micro adventures. With a really busy summer, we took time out once a week to visit the local pool for a family swim. Beyond that, we worked together almost nightly outside in our garden.
In the past, we had many camping trips, and the kids definitely missed them. I know my husband and I really felt the loss of having that time to unplug. We will be working on how to make them possible next summer while balancing other priorities. There was a good lesson here about how to make family time a priority and to make sure we get that much-needed balance.
Be active role models
I want to tell you that behind those active kids was a not-so-active mom this year. I personally struggled with two separate health challenges, one in early January and one in June. The health challenge in June threw me back in the hospital and challenged my mobility. This was devastating during my favourite part of the year. Returning to activity and the outdoor mom that I strive to be after injury is a slow process. Muscles don’t respond in the same way.
My doctor said something that has stuck with me, though, and I want to share it with you. He reminded me that parents shouldn’t always be just the cheering section at children’s sport activities. At times, the children should be our cheering sections if we are setting that active example. They should watch you make your active life a priority.
Don’t count me out yet. I’m back to making progress in my own activity and continuing to keep up my end of leading by example. Even if that’s a simple daily walk, you’ve gotta start somewhere.
I’m retaking the Parent Promise this year. Will you join me?