For most kids, the summer months are relaxed with no homework, looser schedules, and lots of snacks. But as a parent, you want to make sure your kids stay fit and remain active even during the lazy days of vacation. It’s not always easy, though. It might be too hot outside or the weather might unexpectedly turn stormy. Kids have lots of excuses for not getting on their feet and moving. But there are a few things you can do to ensure your kids don’t sit around doing nothing all summer.

Emphasize Fun and Exploration

It’s hard to be active if you hate what you’re doing. You can help encourage your child to be more active by encouraging both fun and exploration.

First, encourage your child to explore different activities. Let them try a variety of team or individual sports as well as other activities that might get them moving, such as bicycling, hiking, or swimming without specific goals. Don’t push them toward any specific activities or sports just because it’s one you like or think they should like. Encourage trying an activity several times before deciding it’s not for them.

Next, encourage them to have fun with their activities. Teach them that physical activity shouldn’t be a chore. They should enjoy what they’re doing and look forward to doing it. If it’s an option for you, consider providing a variety of tools to keep them active, such as a pool, trampoline, bikes, a variety of balls, and other equipment.

Sign Them Up for a Membership

Sometimes one of the best ways to get active is to head somewhere where being active is the whole point. Try signing your kids (or the whole family) up for a membership at a fitness center. Then schedule in consistent times to go to the fitness center and try the offerings. From classes to team sports to open use, most fitness centers offer a variety of choices to ensure your kids can find something they’ll enjoy.

Choose the Activities Based on Age

There’s nothing more frustrating to a kid (or a parent) than trying to do an activity they’re not quite ready for. Expecting a six-year-old to enjoy long-distance running, for example, is going to drive you and your kids crazy. But taking the same child on bike rides around the neighborhood can lead to some wonderful quality family time while keeping the kids active.

Leave Unscheduled Time for Physical Activity

Sometimes as a parent, you look for things to keep the kids busy. Summer sleep-away camps, day camps, art classes, music classes, and dozens of other activities are great ways to keep the kids from sitting in front of the TV all day. However, these don’t always offer enough opportunity for the kids to seek out their own ways of being active. Try to leave plenty of time for the kids to do things on their own. Inside or outside, if left to their own devices, kids will often find something physical to do when they get restless.

As parents, all you want is to know that your kids are both healthy and happy. You can ensure both by making sure they stay fit and active during those long, slow days of summer vacation. It just requires a little creativity and maybe a little nudge in the right direction to get things started.

By Anita Ginsburg

Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn't writing.

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