Thursday, July 28, 2011

Healthy Living: Exercise with Your Children

Has cabin fever set in at your house yet? We are in the full swing of it over here and 4 kids with cabin fever = 1 mentally exhausted mommy.  It's always nice to find a few new tricks for my mommy arsenal so I thought I would share a few of mine with you, please (PLEASE PLEASE) feel free to share yours with me too.

Currently at least 30 states in the US alone are in the grips of a heat wave and winter will be here before we know it (plus it's currently winter in other areas of the world). Because of this I was inspired to share a few things I have learned along the way to help the kids release some of that pent up energy.   Bonus, mommy burns a few calories too.  It's a win-win.

We do not do every single one of these every single day, kids (or at least my kids) get sick of the same things day in and day out.  We do each of them at least 2 times a week though and at least 1 per day.

I wish I had some awesome pics for this but its hard to take pics while you are in the moment.  I need the lady from Parenting, Illustrated With Crappy Pictures to come guest draw some great pics for me! (I LOVE that blog!).

Vacuum Tag, aka Peep Attack
This activity was born out of our dogs strange obsession with attacking the vacuum.  No idea why, but she sees the vacuum as a real threat.  Perhaps it's because, as a baby, Teddy was terrified of it.  It did start when he was a baby.  Oddly, as he got older he became fascinated with vacuums, even inventing his own word for them that has been passed down to each of our kids and is still used to this day.  That word is "Peep".  No idea where it came from, he came up with it shortly after he turned 1 and still calls it that on occasion.  Therefore, in our house this game is known as 'Peep Attack".

How to play-
Each kid gets some sort of soft (foam pool noodles are great) sword to use.  Turn the peep (vacuum) on and go at it.  Chase the kids around the room, let them "beat up" the peep.  Watch little ones around and the cord so they don't trip on it.

This activity is a threefer, meaning you get 3 things accomplished all at the same time.  You get your floors clean, you get some exercise in for yourself (I am always breathless after a good round of Peep Attack) and you help your kids expel some energy all at once.
If you are the OCD Type A personality who loves those pretty freshly vacuumed lines in your carpet this may not be the activity for you.  You go in all sorts of crazy directions while the attack is on so the lines left behind are definitely not uniform or remotely straight.  I like those straight lines too, but in our household we have so much foot traffic they never last more than 10 minutes anyways so it doesn't really matter.

Marching Band
My kids love music and we have a lot of toy instruments in our home.  Teddy came up with this activity 1 day, influenced by the show "Fresh Beat Band" (gag me!!).  He asked me if I would help him form a marching band so we did.

How to play-
Give each child their own instrument, don't forget 1 for yourself.  If you have no toy instruments it's ok, grab some pots, pans, lids, spoons, etc from the kitchen and bang away.
Once everyone has their instrument, which in our house sometimes involves tears and compromises, line up and begin to play,
I am normally the leader although Teddy and Kimmy enjoy taking turns as the leader as well.  We march all around our house banging and playing away.  Sometimes we sing, sometimes we do silly different walks like going really slow, really fast, stepping really high, tip toeing, skipping, let your imagination do the "walking" for you.  Sometimes different rooms have different themes, the living room may be the loud room so we play loudly as we go through there and the bedroom is the quiet room so we have to try and play softly while in there.
After only 10-15 minutes of this we are all tired and breathless from laughing so hard and running all over the house.  It has got to burn some calories!

Dance It Out
Sometimes we all just have too much energy and not enough focus to do anything really organized.  At times like these I just turn on some fun, energetic music and start dancing like a crazy lady.  The kids don't even have to be asked, they just automatically join in.  This is also a great activity to distract if someone is having a meltdown (mom or kid).

How to play-
Find some fun music, turn it up and DANCE DANCE DANCE.
We usually do a minimum of 4 songs. 4x5 (average length of a song)= 20 minutes of some good cardio for you and your kids.
Not only do we dance but I also encourage the kids to do actual exercise moves including squats, lunges, side twists, jumping jacks, etc.  The kids love to mimic me.  Even Sariah dances around like a maniac and has been since she was 6 months old and could really sit up and get into it.
Pandora is my favorite place to find the music for this, I have some great kid appropriate stations on there.

I really wanted to try yoga with my kids but thought I had to pay money for a fancy DVD to really get them into it.  It was watching them mimic me during our dance sessions that inspired me to just look up some child friendly yoga poses.  Then I just started doing them on the floor.  At first they didn't know what I was doing but they quickly joined in.  Unanimously the favorite pose is Downward Dog, even Sariah can do this one (and has been able too since she turned 1).

Sariah kind of doing Downward Dog this morning.  It was hard to take a pic
 because every time I moved out of the pose to try and snap 1 she came out of the
pose too, this was the best that I got.

How to play-
Go online and find at least 4 kid friendly yoga poses.  Put on some calming music (if you want, totally optional) and simply start doing the poses yourself.  Your kids will naturally be curious about what you are doing and will want to try and join in.
Some of our favorite poses include (and our names for them may not be the technical names since we do it on our own w/o any books/DVDs):
Tree Pose: start out standing with your feet slightly apart.  Reach your arms up high in the air, palms touching.  Tell your kids to pretend they are trees growing big and tall.  Traditional Tree Pose also says to draw 1 leg up so that the sole of your foot is resting in the inner thigh of the opposite leg.  You can try this with your kids if they are able to stand on 1 foot fairly well.
Downward Dog Pose:  Start from the standing position, reach your arms down and plant your hands firmly on the floor, point your tush towards the ceiling, you should make a triangle.

Karma doing a perfect Downward Dog Pose

Cat Pose: great pose to follow up downward dog.  Have your gets get on all fours on the floor and gently arch their back up like a "scared cat"  while dropping their heads down to look at their "tails".  Hold for a few seconds and have them gently lower their back and raise their head.  Repeat a few times
Cobra Pose: another great pose to transition our of downward dog or cat pose for that matter.  Lay face down on the ground with your arms laying flat beside you.  Gently arch your back and stretch your head and neck upwards so that from your bellybutton up your body is off the floor.  You can easily go back and forth between this pose and downward dog.  I usually tell the kids "we are a snake, hisssssssss" then transition and say "now we are a dog, woof woof" and go back and forth like that.
Happy Baby Pose: Lay with you back flat on the floor, draw your knees into your chest, point your feet upward and let your hips fall open.  Grab the soles of your feet and hold.

If you make it fun your kids will do it.  If you are listening to music aim for 3-4 songs, otherwise strive for 15-20 minutes.

This website has some AWESOME routines and child friendly poses on it:
and I just learned from this website that we have another pose that we do called "Cow Pose" its the opposite of the Cat Pose.  When we let our back go back down and look up it's called Cow Pose.  Gonna have to start mooing while we do this, the kids will love it.

There is even an iPhone App for that!  99 cents and comes with 24 animal related yoga poses for kids.  I may buy it myself.

I have recently tried to end our yoga sessions with sitting in the floor, legs crossed and arms at our side while breathing in and out slowly.  The site above suggests letting your kids "Roar like a lion" in this pose and even call it the Lion Pose so I think I will try that next time as they usually don't want to sit still too long.

Sometimes our yoga sessions turn into tumbling sessions as the kids love for me to somersault them out of downward dog pose.  Then Teddy asks me to help him do back bends/flips on my arm as well.

How to play-
Just show your kids how to do simple tumbling moves such as somersaulting or doing back bends/back flips braced against your arm.  Aim for 15-20 minutes of this.  You may not burn many calories with this particular activity but your kids will and you will help give them confidence to try these moves on their own.

Yo Gabba Gabba Dancey Dance
Sort of like the Dance It Out activity above only we do it to an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba instead of just music.

How to play-
Put on an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba and tell your kids not to stop moving/dancing until its over.  If someone stops moving or sits down they are out.  The last person left standing "wins".
Yo Gabba Gabba is full of silly little songs so its easy to dance a lot.  In between the songs when there is just talking I encourage the kids to march, high step, jumps, skip, do jumping jacks, etc.

Hot Lava
A fun little game originally invented in our home by Teddy but I am sure you will all remember playing some form of it as a kid yourself.

How to play-
Randomly place pillows, blankets, stools, throw rugs, etc on the floor and declare that the floor itself is hot lava.  The object is to jump from item to item without falling into the lava.  If you fall you are "out" and have to go sit on the couch until the next round.  Last person standing "wins".  You can even have a "caller", someone (usually mom) who sits on the side and calls out directions to person telling them where and how to go.  We have a caller when mommy is feeling lazy.

That's all I have got in my personal bag of tricks.  I hope we have inspired you to try a few new fun activities with your kids.  They are all great activities to help mama and kids stay in shape and have fun together on rainy/hot/snowy/cold days.  They are also great ways to build happy memories with your kids and instill confidence in them.

I feel like, in my attempts to better my mothering self and to be 100% brutally honest with myself and all of you I tend to concentrate only on the negative areas of my parenting.  It was nice to write a blog about how much fun we can have in our home and to show it is not all screaming/yelling/tantrum throwing around here.

this dancey dancin' mama,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...