Having shared some of my experiences with fitness growing up, I thought I’d share some of my experiences with my children.
From a very early age I became aware that my son was going to be an ‘active’ boy. He was running by 10 months of age. He learned to ride a bike without training wheels before his second birthday. About the same time he managed to open a second story window that I couldn’t open and I managed to rescue him seconds before he fell out.
I also knew he had some of the same lung problems that I had because of the numerous nights I spent helping him through his croup attacks at the local hospital.
Getting #1 outside also proved a lifesaver. Quite frankly, it was the only way I was sure to get a nap!
We were blessed to live out in the country. This meant I could send him outside and watch him run around the yard after our two dogs. Later on, when one got stolen, he made a close bond with the other dog and they became explorers together.
Living in the country also meant that I had to bike if I wanted to get away from the home. We had one car and my husband worked a very odd shift so I would have to transport myself from location to location. When I had our daughter this meant that we got ourselves our first bike wagon and I’d load them into the wagon and off down the road I’d go.
Later on we had a farm with a swimming pool, a trampoline, tree fort and tire swing. It was great for the children. The barn was about 1/2 a km from the house. Since our son was older at this time, it wasn’t unusual for me to send him out to bike to the barn and back several times.
Sundays would often see Eric and I heading out for long bike rides around the country side. The rest of the week, since my daughter couldn’t ride a bike yet, we’d hike and walk everywhere. Stratford is a long town and I’d park the car in a central location and have us walk everywhere for our errands. If it was grocery day, we’d park next to the store. Then we’d walk out and do all the away errands and come back and finish with groceries.
To sum up:
-I’ve tried hard to make physical activity something that is natural and part of our day.
-I haven’t put the children in organized sports. I have issues with this which combines with a family budget that would be too strained if I were to enrol the children. That being said, this year I am entering my very tall 6 year old in ballet to learn to control her body. By providing transportation for another girl whose parents are working, my cost for my daughter comes to $2 per class. And we are looking into a comparable activity for our son. Plus I do have them take swimming lessons because everyone must learn to swim, in my opinion.
-I do the activity with them. This helps prevent the whining. And it gets me fit too. Because I felt unfit in the beginning it seemed a lot easier to get fit doing ‘child’ sized activities than it was for me to launch into an ‘adult’ program.
-I provide an activity rich environment. This means I insist we bike when possible. This means we have rain gear for rainy days. I have basketballs (but no place to play! 😦 ), a tetherball set, badminton, lawn darts, hockey gear, ice skates (this is Canada), a canoe with life jackets, fishing rods and equimpment and so forth. I try, and the key word is try, to limit television time.
-I try to provide variety and new experiences all the time. This doesn’t happen as well in the winter because most winter activities require equipment out of my price range. But, for example, one year I asked my snowboarding brother if he would gift my son with a day on the slopes instead of a Christmas gift. I hear more about that gift than any other gift my son has received for Christmas yet! Another year my sister-in-law and mother-in-law took both children to Marineland for the day. While not a traditional physical activity, let me tell you all that walking adds up! We also try to spend one whole day at the Toronto Zoo each year. Now that is a physical activity!
There are times when I wish I could enrol my children into an activity and I take more of an observer’s position. Plus I have a cousin who is an Olympic athlete and truthfully, part of me would like to see my children so dedicated to ‘something’ other than computer time!
You can also see that what I’ve outlined is nothing new. The experts say to do this kind of thing all of the time. I guess what you can see is that it does work.