We’ve been spending about an hour and a half outdoors every day now since the beginning of this week. The kids have a good time outdoors, ran, jumped, played with each other, walked, climbed, etc. They just have been so happy to do this and I was glad about it too because they would otherwise be glued to screens sitting on their bums half the time.
Not that I have anything against screen time. My daughters are whizzes at computers and it definitely enhances their creativity and imagination as well as makes them polish their logical skills, but I had been letting them play games whenever they wanted for the past few months (as part of a move toward a more unschooling approach). I noticed that my daughters, especially my 6 year old daughter, had started beginning to seem more lethargic than her usual self, and was often unable to walk much. She would also complain of tiredness every time we walked to the usual local areas, which we didn’t go much to in the past few months because I thought that if I just allowed them to play games whenever they want, they’d eventually want to get up and move around a bit, kids being kids. But no. There was no sign of self regulation in my 6 year old and 10 year old. My 4 year old son yes. But not my daughters.
I was concerned about their lack of physical activity and unfitness. So I decided to suggest we go out once every day on an outing/trip to a local setting – and try to mix in some other physical activities of their choice throughout the day, like cycling, dancing to Just Dance on Wii, hula hooping, jump rope, etc.
According to the NHS website here (http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/819.aspx?CategoryID=52&SubCategoryID=142), kids aged 5 – 18 need at least 60 mins of exercise a day and this should be a mix of vigorous and medium intensity physical activity, and with bone strengthening and muscle strengthening activities thrown in the mix at least 3 times a week.
I’ve been setting a timer on my phone which runs on it’s own continuously from the start of our day out to when we return home. We always return home when my kids tell me or show me signs that they’ve had enough and were knackered and wanted to go home. We almost always clocked at least 1.5 hours every day when we were out. Today we clocked 2 hours even.
Straight away I notice a difference in my daughters. They became more lively, actually wanted to stay out longer, and it’s almost like a sudden improvement in their overall levels of fitness.
This is good for me too. After all I know I can get too sedentary at times because I love to read. This new regime forces us to all go out once a day. And it’s good for us.
I guess the kids are also motivated to do this by the prospect of the food I will get them when we spend time out. Things like ice cream cones from the local cafe, pastries from the local Tesco’s… just the idea of a trip to the shops to let them choose a food item of their choice as an outing snack seems to make their eyes light up.
This new thing is certainly working for us very well at the moment and we’re really making the most out of this year’s lovely warm British summer.