How to stay active as a family once the school year starts

Active Family Hike

Once summer ends and the kids are back in school, it becomes increasingly more difficult to keep everyone in the family active. It also makes it harder to find time to spend together as a family. Even though you can’t spend all day going for hikes or going for a swim at the local pool, you can still find ways to stay active as a family. Keeping your entire family active can benefit your physical and mental health while allowing you to spend quality time together that can help throughout your children’s development. Here are a few tips to help you stay active as a family once the school year starts.

Don’t drive

If something is within walking distance, choose to leave the car at home instead of driving with the family. For example, most elementary schools are located within neighborhoods. Even if your child’s elementary school isn’t in your neighborhood, it’s likely still within walking distance. Instead of driving your kids to school, consider walking with them or hopping on your bikes.

Of course, you don’t have to do this every day, and you might not be able to in the cold months when it’s too cold, snowy, and icy to walk with small children. Instead, you can bike or walk in one direction every day and pick your children up in the car after school.

Play more

School starts early, so there’s not always a ton of time in the morning to be active and play. Therefore, it’s important to find time to play after school and on weekends to help your kids burn off some steam at the playground or in the yard. You can also linger after school and let them play on the playground to burn off any energy they have after school.

Go for walks

Active Family WalkWalks are another great activity for the entire family, including hyperactive dogs that love to dig. Instead of letting your kids and pets run around in the yard after school, you can go for a family walk after dinner to aid in digestion and help reduce your child’s excess energy before bedtime. Even a short twenty-minute walk can improve your child’s health and well-being, and it’s also a great activity to reduce dog anxiety and behavioral issues.

Find sports programs

If your children are old enough to begin sports, consider getting them into sports after school and on weekends. The more active your children are, the more active you will be because you’ll be responsible for helping them learn how to play and practice in their free time. For example, if your child is involved in baseball, you’ll spend your weekends teaching them how to bat and throw, giving you the opportunity to become more active and involved in sports.

Additionally, after-school programs and organized activities can help keep your kids occupied after school, allowing you to finish your chores while your kids stay active and focus on honing their skills.

Teach kids how to be active

Children that are active when they’re young are more likely to grow into active adults. Therefore, teaching your kid active and healthy habits now can improve the rest of their lives. Instead of driving to the store, run small errands on foot next time you need to grab milk or go to the store for a small item. You can also teach them to use the stairs instead of the elevator and spend a few hours every week being active. If you’re an active parent, you can teach them how you stay active by getting them involved in your exercise routine. For example, if you do yoga in the morning before dropping your kids off at work, you can find ways to make it fun for children and get them involved in your own exercise routine.

Consider age

As children get older, they’ll find activities they enjoy that are age-appropriate, but when they’re young, they may not be interested in things like sports. Instead, look for other activities that may interest children depending on their age. For example, preschoolers will enjoy dancing, running, and hopping. You can teach your child to jump rope or let them run around with the dog in the yard. Meanwhile, school-aged children can get involved in team sports and other after-school activities that promote a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t push children

Your child isn’t always going to enjoy the same physical activities that you do. Therefore, if you enjoy sports, you shouldn’t expect your children to. Instead, find ways to keep your child active that they enjoy. Never force your child to do activities they don’t enjoy or those that can stress them. For example, if your child is reluctant to start a physical activity, they may simply not be interested in it or are afraid. It’s up to you as the parent to learn about what your child likes to do and find the right activities for them based on their interests.

You should also never pack your child’s schedule. While it’s important for them to stay busy, they should still have downtime and enough time to get quality sleep at night to help them feel energized and healthy the following day, allowing them to perform their best at their favorite physical activities.

Make it fun

Physical activity should be fun for children if you want them to develop healthy habits. If you make physical activity a negative experience for children, they’ll be reluctant to try something new. Meanwhile, if you make it fun and enjoyable, children will be more likely to engage in different activities, giving them confidence and the ability to make friends and find something they enjoy doing.

Final thoughts

Staying active as a family is important for children and adults. Life can become incredibly busy while the children are in school, and you can no longer plan around your own schedule to spend quality time together. Making time every day to ensure your family is getting enough activity once the school year starts is key to developing healthy habits together.

Megan Isola holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and a minor in Business Marketing from Cal State University Chico. She enjoys going to concerts, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with friends.