By Aryn Lloyd, ACE Certified Health Coach, Rock Valley Physical Therapy
School’s Out! Fitness is In Session!
I’m a working mom with small, active kids. While we all love summer weather, I know it’s a challenge to keep a structured schedule for kids that includes more movement and less screen time.
Here are my favorite ways in the QC to get my kiddos moving, work in some fitness for me, and connect with them when they’re out of school.
1. Forget Screens
Screen time has gotten a lot of attention over the past few summers, as many kids have access to tablets, phones, televisions, and computers.
It’s easy to get sucked into shows, games, and social media. Suddenly the day has slipped away and our bodies feel sluggish!
Prior to summer, discuss limiting screen time with your kids. You might set time limits, or keep it off-limits (especially at the start of the day).
2. Free Time and Fresh Air
Talk with your kids – no matter how old – about what activities they will be doing over the summer, and what the structure of their days will look like.
Set up your house both indoors and outdoors to foster and encourage active play.
Set up bins in the garage or outside with go-to activities to play outside. Include balls, a Frisbee, hula-hoops, jump ropes, bubbles, a kite, a sprinkler, and super soakers. Use your kid’s imagination. Use the hula-hoops and jump ropes to create an obstacle course, create your own mini ninja warrior course, set up badminton net, and include anything with water!
Looking for some outdoor camps in the QC? Read LMQC’s Outdoor Blogger Wade Ellett’s Kid Outdoor Camp Guide for 2017.
3. Free QC Activities
Try a new park or trail every week. Let’s Move Quad Cities readers have shared their favorite QC hikes on our local map.
You can document your summer trail visits and earn badges on QCTrails.org.
Have a picnic instead of eating out. Try to plan ahead to find free programs/festivals in the community. If you go on a picnic, don’t forget the Frisbee! Find some open space and get a little more activity!
4. Go Berry- and Flower-Picking: QC Area Farms and Farmers Markets
The farmer’s markets in this area in the summer are outstanding. The Freight House Farmer’s Market is every Saturday morning from 8am-1pm, Sunday 10am-2pm, and Wednesday 8am-1pm beginning May 3rd. You can buy fresh produce and expose your kids to healthy foods. You might even get in your own strength workout carrying all your goodies!
If you know of a family friend who has a farm, ask for a tour. Kids learn a lot about labor that it takes to take care of animals and grow produce by getting hands on experience.
Have you ever considered growing your own produce? Plant some seeds now and create your own garden bed or plants in pots. Get your kids involved in picking out what they want to grow, and don’t forget to make your kids husk the corn!
5. Participate in QC Family-Friendly Walks and Races
In the summer months, we have to go seek out ways for our kids to feel connected to those around us that influence us in positive ways.
Let’s Move Quad Cities has a fitness calendar of events full of family and community activities.
Check out local walks and races , which are a great way to feel connected and teach your kids to give back to the community. Seek out other ways to be active and give back. Contact local organizations like United Way, churches, YMCA’s, and other volunteer-led organizations to find ways you and your family can give back this summer. Take a walk and clean up your neighborhood or park, volunteer or raise money for a good cause by washing cars.
6. Find 5 Minutes!
I often hear my clients talk about how they wish they could do more, but despite that good intention, it doesn’t happen.
Stop making excuses and just find 5 minutes every day!
Get a step tracker and see how many steps you and your kids can take in 5 minutes. Choose 5 body weight exercises and do each one for 5 minutes. Your kids can do them with you! Put on upbeat music for 5 minutes and have a dance party. The 5 minutes often turns into more. Try it once a day. No excuses!
7. On 2 Wheels
My favorite summer activity growing up was – and still is – biking. It can be a great form of exercise and transportation, not to mention we have a great trail system here in the QCA!
8. Find it and Fix it!
Now is a great time to find and repair the summer toys that have been stored away in your basement, crawl space, and garage loft. Once fixed, be sure to keep your go-to toys and fitness equipment visible and in working order for when you and your kids want to use them.
9. Create Your Own Family Fitness Traditions
Summer is a great time to find – and enjoy – some extra family fitness time! Find a way for the whole family to be active:
Commit to going for a walk in the evening after dinner or before bed. Go to the park together. Create a family fitness night…even if just once a week. Make your own family fitness challenge.
The Quad Cities offers more activities, places, races and fun that we could ever fit into one summer … but this year we’re going to try!