We’re not an outdoorsy kind of family. The Bug loves his Saturday football, and I pound the pavements (intermittently) for the sake of fitness, or the occasional charity challenge. But a bike ride has to end at the park or the pub before enough enthusiasm is be mustered to leave the house; utter the words “shall we go for a walk” and you’re likely to get looks of horror and a request for a pound in the swear box.
That said, I’ve always been the kind of mum who likes her children to get fresh air (it comes from my own mum dragging me out rain or shine as a child ‘because the dog needs a walk.’) and it’s kind of an ingrained message. So I am constantly trying to find ways to entice my children out that don’t involve the shops (although a bit of window-shopping counts as activity – my tweenager would happily spend all day in H&M)!
A diabetes diagnosis makes activity even more crucial to our family; there’s nothing like a duvet day to send blood sugar skyrocketing, and so the pursuit of active pastimes has become something of an obsession in the last 6 months; we’ve become experts at sneaking activity into our children’s lives. And now that Sainsbury’s are running Active Kids again we’ve had even more inspiration from them.
Our 10 tips for getting kids more active.
5 from us…
- Pocket-money: Saturday morning is pocket-money day in our house, and my kids love nothing more than offloading it as quickly as possible on tat in the local newsagent, before it burns a hole in their pockets. Thing is, the rules say you have to cycle to the shop…
- Walk to school: I can never get parked on the school run, and the best time of day to get active is right after a meal. You know that post-meal slump you get after eating a large meal? That’s down to the blood sugar spike that happens to all of us right after eating. It only takes 15 minutes to help level that out and re-energise you for the day, so a brisk walk to school sets the kids up for the morning.
- Video gaming: yes, you heard that right. Over Christmas, when the temptation was to scoff mince pies and stagnate in front of Home Alone, I knew that getting active was going to be a challenge. I put that straight with a request that they play Just Dance, or Wii Party before flopping. Quite often they would spend over an hour on it once they got started, and emerge sweaty and out of breath. Result!
- A goal-scoring challenge: the Bug got a football goal for his birthday, so any time we feel like he’s got the ‘can’t-be-bothered’ grumps, we get him to see how many goals he can get past us. Needless to say he always wins, but only just.
- Swing! We’re lucky enough to have this garden swing, and when GG gets fed up with our company (like I said, she’s pre-teen!) she’ll go and hang out on the swing for a while. Nine times out of ten she’ll end up flying high for ages and come back in with a smile on her face (almost). Before we got the swing, a quick trip to the local playground would do the same job.
And 5 from Sainsbury’s
- Bake! I hadn’t thought about cooking as being an active pursuit, but actually, both my kids love to cook, and moving around the kitchen means they’re learning a valuable skill instead of zoning out on the sofa. It can be as simple the jam tarts we’re going to make this afternoon with some leftover pastry; or the satisfying challenge I have planned for the school holidays of making their own Chicken Kiev – a favourite food that’s actually really simple to make.
- Skip: as well as being great for developing coordination, the short burst of intensive activity can really bust a bad mood out of a child when they just need to let it all go!
- Learn a circus skill: Sainsbury’s have something called Stampabouts on their Active Kids site, which we’ve used a lot as a pre-cursor to getting up onto stilts.
- Do some gardening together: did you know that gardening counts as exercise? All that squatting in the weeds – just make sure you teach kids about how to look after their backs and bend properly.
- Practice for Sports Day: kids love nothing more than a bit of goofing around, so trial runs of the sack, or egg-and-spoon race is just the thing for a change of mood.
Active Kids has provided over £150 million worth of equipment and experiences to schools since its inception. You can collect Active Kids vouchers when shopping at Sainsbury’s to donate to your local school or group, and they will exchange them for a range of products available from the scheme. Active Kids vouchers can be collected at all Sainsbury’s stores, petrol stations and when ordering groceries online (you just have to ask the delivery driver!). And if your school isn’t taking part, your Scout or Girlguiding group can use them too!