Healthstyle Blog

The Sounds of Summer

This article was originally posted on ajc.com.

The sounds of summer include splashing, motor boats, sizzling on the grill and kids saying, “Mom, I’m bored.”

Certified weight loss and lifestyle coach Kwavi Agbeyegbe is here to help with loads of tips for getting kids off the couch and moving outside or in the kitchen helping to make healthy meals.

Get Your Kids Moving

Create a daily schedule with input from the kids. According to HealthyChildren.org, most kids spend an average of three hours every day watching television. Unfortunately, screen time encourages sedentary behavior. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you allow children no more than one to two hours of total screen time each day. I created a schedule for my children to use daily, because my boys if allowed, would use their electronic gadgets all day. Set times were created for electronics, free play (no electronics involved), journaling and reading. My children have become very creative with free play from dressing up as secret agents to playing board games.

Create an A-Z scavenger hunt that involves the children finding items in nature that begin with the letters of the alphabet.  This can also be done inside the house. However, it might be harder to find items outside, which makes it more competitive. Award points for each item found.  Use the points as credit towards a privilege or treat.

Create an obstacle course with items around the house. You can use buckets, balls, towels, cups, spoons, twine, water etc. This is a fun activity for everyone. Parents can also participate.

Encourage the inner Pollock in your youngster with an outdoor toss painting project with washable paints, a big piece of cardboard (moving box) or an old sheet, balls and brushes.  You could end up with a masterpiece.

Bring back the oldies, but goodies, and introduce your kids to chalk tic-tac-toe, Four Square (Not the app), Hopscotch, and the more rigorous Red Rover, Freeze Tag and Kick the Can.

Sous Chefs in Training

Plan and cook meals with your children. Go online together to find a recipe or look through a cookbook. Let your children choose a recipe and make a list of needed items. If possible, take the kids with you to the grocery store or farmer’s market to help you gather the ingredients. Involve the kids in the preparation of the meal. I do this with my boys who are ages 9 and 12, and they love being a part of the process. Depending on the age of the children and their skills in the kitchen, you can decide who chops and who mixes.

Create a smoothie together. Let the kids choose the fruits and vegetables (try for at least one veggie) for the smoothie.  It’s fun to have them name their original smoothies or do a rating system of which ones they liked best (there is a free smoothie challenge on Kwavi’s website that gives you access to 25 smoothie recipes http://www.smooth-movement.com).

got_green_smoothie

Create a vegetable garden. Go to a farm or a garden center and purchase some plants or seeds. Let the kids choose what they want to plant. It will be their responsibility to take care of the garden, which may include creating a homemade scarecrow to keep critters away. Currently my boys are growing hot peppers and sweet peppers and they are excited because it has started to flower and they can see tiny peppers coming out. Once the veggies are ready to pick, make sure and include them in the family meal.

veg_garden

Take a road trip to a local farm.  Depending on the ages of your children, you can discuss sustainability, organic food, farm to table eating, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), or for younger ones, where your food comes from and who grows it.

I hope this has given you some ideas on what you can do with your children this summer. Do you have some other kids activities that you would like to share? I would love to hear them. I have 2 boys aged 9 and 12  and I’m always on the hunt for fun and exciting ways to keep them occupied in the summer. I look forward to reading your comments below.

Let the summer fun begin!

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