Are you ready for the summer?
Helping your kids stay active over the July/August break can be a major challenge.
Although it seems like it should be a time of increased activity, in reality, the screen time can really pile up if left unchecked. We asked our AfL Role Models what they do to ensure their children are moving lots during the summer months and here is what they told us:
“Last year we made a family bucket list for summer, it included active adventures (big things like camping and biking, but also backyard things like blowing bubbles and running through the sprinkler) and places in our community we wanted to visit (like the outdoor pool, a geocache series). We made a giant poster and hung it in our kitchen and each week we checked at least one off the list!” – Holly LaRochelle
“While we do different camps during the summer, we try to focus on free outdoor play and outdoor adventures as a family. I try to encourage free play with friends during the summer and take turns with other parents to be a babysitter or I hire a babysitter (if I can’t take them) to take the kids to the beach and to the pool if we are in the city. As a family, we try to explore new places we have not been to yet in Toronto/GTA or in the world. It can be a backpacking adventure in Europe, like hiking in the mountains in Westside country Norway, or it can be canoeing – like a day trip in the city. For an example, I have yet to canoe from the Leslie Street Spit to The Toronto Islands. Sometimes adventures don’t have to include an airline ticket…you can find them where you live.” – Kari Svenneby
“Our kids are in summer camp and we err on the side of choosing pretty active camps so they get a lot of time outside and being active. We do usually mix in some arts and music for a couple of weeks and one of the things I find particularly challenging is that many of the arts camps are all or nothing, ie. they’re inside all day with no outdoor free time or games. On those weeks, we try and get them outside before dinner. Bikes, scooters, blades, helmets, and pads are kept very accessible so the kids can get everything out themselves as soon as the car door opens. For those nights where time is really short, they play outside in the backyard while we make dinner and we eat outside as much as possible so they can jump up and keep playing when they’re done. And we often swap bathtime for running through the sprinkler (or being chased with the hose!) and a good scrub with the towel when drying off.” – Kathryn Lagden
“My recommendation would be for parents to encourage their kids to just go out and PLAY. Kick the can, throw a Frisbee, run, bike, swim at the lake, look for garter snakes, play catch, throw a football, kick a soccer ball, play some hoops, play scrub baseball, hopscotch, jump, play badminton, beach volleyball, hike, fish…Just play for the sake of playing and do so until it gets dark. Eat. Sleep. Then repeat. Be a Kid. Have fun. PLAY.” – Glen Mulcahy
“Because I am self-employed and manage the children over the summer I find the time to exercise on my own becomes more challenging so I look at our play time as a perfect time to work out. Activities that keep us active include tag, as well as running/biking at the local high school track, which adds a competitive feel to our fun (my two boys love that). We also spend more time up north so we are swimming a lot, but to make it more of a challenge, I encourage us to do a running racing at the beach with a jump in the lake as our final reward. When we are in the city we hit the local outdoor pools, usually biking to get there. Lastly, we play platform and regular tennis throughout the summer as a way to spend time together as a family while hitting our goal of being active.” – Leigh Mitchell
“Clear rules (including consequences) around screen time are key! Employing an ‘If, Then’ method helps to ensure expectations around how they spend their time are met. Consider including chores, time spent outdoors and/or being active, time spent with friends/family in person, reading or school-related activities (and whether they can be completed online which can add additional screen time!). Set your family up to win! With clear rules and expectations in place, what systems do you have to track their time? Are your expectations around time spent looked at daily? Or weekly? How will you limit time on their devices? (Will they be given wifi code after completing tasks? Use a device like Disney Circle that allows parents to control and monitor electronic usage?)” – Joan Chand’oiseau
“Summer Camp is a great way to keep kids active – most cities offer summer camp programs that include sports, swimming, and even skating at reasonable rates. Kids don’t have to go all summer lon,g even a week or two will have them getting active and singing camp songs.” – Katie
“Get active WITH your kids. Go for a bike ride, swim in the local pool, or go for a walk/hike in the ravine. If you are active with your kids, everyone will feel better and your child will model your own healthy behaviour too. Make a rule: for every 30 min of screen time, you and your kids need to do 60 min of activity. This can be as simple as going for a walk or a swim or a game of catch on the driveway.” – Dr. Dina
What are your tips for keeping kids active during the summer?