Keep calm, summer is coming! With May just around the corner, we’re inching closer to the end of the school year. The kids are probably ready for a break after a long school year. Are you ready?
Bring on the BBQs, bike rides, swimming lessons, sunshine, and much more. Here are seven ideas to get everyone movin’ and groovin’ with a healthy family focus on getting physical exercise and eating nutritiously this summer.
7 Healthy Family Choices
Plant a Vegetable Garden
Digging in the dirt is fun. The best part of planting seeds is watching them sprout and grow into food you can eat. You don’t need much space to grow a nice garden in the yard or in a raised bed. Plant things in pots, too. Herbs and flowers are easy to grow in pots.
Choose veggies your children will actually eat:
Sugar snap peas
Kale and spinach for good measure
Go to the Farmer’s Market
If you aren’t inclined to grow your own vegetables, you could make a weekly trip to your local farmer’s market with kids in tow to take in everything going on around you — the buzz of local growers, the bright colors, and the kid-friendly activities. It’s an opportunity to teach them about the farm-to-table concept, which is a mainstream movement that’s been implemented everywhere from school cafeterias to hospitals to restaurants. Everyone should be encouraged to ask questions about how their food is made and where it comes from. Curious little minds want to know too.
Make Smoothies for Breakfast
Use your farmer’s market bounty to make smoothies when you get home. Let the kids choose what they would like to in their smoothie. A healthy and tasty smoothie is quick and easy in a blender. Here’s a recipe idea that can be adjusted to your desired consistency:
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and bananas (frozen or fresh)
Kids tend to gain weight during the summer because they are spending more time in front of screens instead of playing outdoors, according to an article on NPR. Anti-obesity programs focus on children’s diet and activity levels during the school year, but summer vacation time is actually the danger zone. It’s especially disconcerting because childhood obesity rates in the U.S. have tripled over the last 30 years, and one-third of all children born after 2000 will be affected by diabetes or obesity-related health issues.
In addition to encouraging kids to play outside during the day, families should come together with physical activities they all enjoy. Family bike rides are a good opportunity to teach kids about the rules of the road, the importance of wearing a helmet, and how to interact with pedestrians and drivers. Hiking is an enjoyable way to experience nature and learn about the area’s flora and fauna.
Take Swimming Lessons
Everyone in the family should know how to swim, and one of the best ways to learn is through formal swimming lessons. Even if you don’t have a little water bug on your hands, it’s an important life skill to have. A good swimming instructor will teach kids proper strokes, as well as talk about water safety and the importance of wearing sunblock. Plus, swimming is a great form of physical exercise for all ages, and a fun healthy family activity.
Go Picnic in the Park
Break up the backyard boredom with a trip to a nearby park. It’s such a simple activity, but it brings a lot joy in one afternoon. Let the kids plan the meal and pack it up. Bring a frisbee or a football. Spread the blanket out and enjoy each other’s company.
Host a Home Summer Camp
For more structure, you could design your own kids’ camp with a theme, especially if sending them away for summer camp just isn’t an option. Here are a few DIY summer camps for inspiration:
Overnight camp in the woods
For many parents, staying home with the kids all day isn’t an option. But there are plenty of opportunities to spend quality time with them and make it a summer to remember. At the end of the day, kids just want to run around, have fun, hang out with friends and family, and just be kids. Hopefully we’ve sparked some creativity to get you ready for the summer season in a healthy family way.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.
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