Having an 8-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son, I’m very conscious of my kids’ love for screen time. They watch TV and play games on their Nintendo DSs and use the family computer, and I am constantly trying to make sure that they get plenty of time away from these various screens.
However, I mistakenly assumed that all playing was automatically physical, when, in fact, it’s not. And this could have a big impact on my children’s physical well-being.
For example, if every afternoon when the kids return from school, I make sure that there’s no “screen time” until after dinner, in my mind I think I’ve done a great job of keeping the kids from becoming couch potatoes. They’re off in our basement playing with Lego, building forts or putting on a show, or they’re up in the bedrooms reading, doing school work or playing pretend.
What I’ve come to realize though is that they’re not, most of the time, getting their heart rates up, running until out of breath, or practicing any physical skills. I need to shift the focus away from just limiting screen time to getting my kids active, burning off energy and learning how to run, jump, kick or throw and catch a ball.
Last week, we set-up an obstacle course in our backyard and timed each other, noting those times, and trying to set new personal bests. We also hit the trampoline and the park. We’ve purchased ski boots for my son and husband and intend to do more family skiing.
It’s been good exercise for us all, and it’s also been a source of great fun and bonding. We encourage, challenge and congratulate each other and do lots of laughing too.