mom and sons sledding

#ProjectActiveFamily: The life-changing joy of keeping it real

I’ve been thinking a lot about a thought-provoking question that I recently received from one of the parents in our tiny-but-mighty #ProjectActiveFamily community.

“What suggestions do you have for families who have little spare time for adventures that involve coming together as a complete family?” that parent asked.

Her question got me thinking about how often we end up setting the bar impossibly high for ourselves; and how quickly we can become discouraged as a result. After all, if your definition of success on the active front involves (a) getting the entire family together and (b) doing something super-adventurous each and every time, you’re going to find it pretty tough to keep meeting that standard.

Consider how much less stressful this active living goal becomes if you tweak that definition of success in a way that works for—not against—you:

If you look for opportunities to be active with whatever family members happen to be available at a particular time and if you recognize that you don’t have to make things super complicated for yourself and your kids. The goal, after all, is to achieve lasting change: to find ways to make your family’s new active living habit stick in a pleasurable and sustainable way.
Bottom line? Instead of setting the active living bar impossibly high for yourself, allow yourself to experience the life-changing joy of keeping it real—and then encourage your kids to do the same.

Do you have a tip or idea to share with other members of the Project Active Family community? We’d love to hear your best advice on getting—and staying—active as a family.

Click here to read all Ann’s posts.

10 responses to “#ProjectActiveFamily: The life-changing joy of keeping it real

  1. My husband and I use an app called Quick 4 and do 16 minutes of a bootcamp type workout most weekday mornings. About half the time one or both kids wake up and run down to join us. Our 9 year old is a budding basketball player so grabs a mat and joins in. Our 5 year old isn’t really into it but cheers us on, reads books close by, and sometimes joins in for a spontaneous burpee challenge. It’s really hard to get started some mornings but I often tell myself…it’s only 16 minutes! And it’s kind of hard to say no when your kids want to see if they can do more burpees than you (they can!)

  2. There aren’t many activities the six of us do together on a regular basis — in warm weather we bike the trails once in a while and in cold weather we try to get out to an outdoor skating rink when we can. However, I’m more inclined to make a mundane thing, like picking up a few groceries, into something with a fun end-goal, like getting a smoothie, provided they walk with me to the store. Works every time.

    1. I like the fact that you look for everyday opportunities to work in being active as a family, Erica. That’s so much less stressful than assuming everything has to be a huge undertaking.

  3. My oldest son recently joined a track team. He practices four days a week two of which require a close to 30-minute drive. The cool thing is where he practices “Toronto Track and Field Club” at York University allows you to work out with kids while he is running. Many gyms you need to be 16 to even be inside the gym. This amazing space is for any age! So now my youngest son and I go and work out as well while he practices. Lots of fun~ so I turn “duty” into extra workout time!

    1. It’s great that you found a gym that welcomes people of all ages. And I love the fact that you found away to turn “down time” into active time. (You’re not just wasting time sitting on a bench waiting for your oldest son. You’re able to be active at the same time with his younger brother.)

  4. I’m fully on board with this but we have two girls who have additional challenges (ASD & ADHD). Both could benefit from additional activity but, because of the additional needs of both, everyday life is more work. While helpful tips and random suggestions will work for some people, I am spending so much of my time just keeping things together that what I really need is a structured plan. Something that’s clearly layed out and easy to follow. Trying to organize it myself, is just another item on my already too long To Do list.

    1. I hear you re: these challenges, (Mary. All four of my kids have ADHD — and my youngest is on the autism spectrum.)

      You’re the expert when it comes to knowing what will — and won’t — work for your family. So if it’s a structured plan versus making plans on the fly, I say go with it!

  5. I think your advice is right on, Ann. If you can form a habit of being active on a daily basis doing unadventurous things like walking to school, playing catch, throwing a frisbee around, etc., what you’re doing is making it possible for the family to say “yes!” to big adventures when they do present themselves.

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