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Keeping Kids Active as the Summer Heats Up

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Ah, summer vacation. Finally, after a school year of daily schedules where driving time is longer than mealtimes, my family is on break. We all enjoy the relaxed mornings. Unlike the rushed breakfasts and the morning backpack scramble during the school year, my kids and I have the time to eat at our leisure, play games and enjoy just being home. We enjoy it that is, until the dreaded words escape their little mouths: “I’m bored.”

This always amazes me. How can you be bored? You have rooms of toys, endless piles of Legos and building blocks, and shelves filled with books, puzzles, games and activities. Still, as I attempt to keep the house clean--a much more difficult task now that everyone is home all day--three little boys enter the room with their shoulders drooping and their faces blank. “Mom, there is nothing to do.”

I have been a Mom long enough to know that this is a code. They are really not bored and can’t find anything to do, they just want someone (me) to do it with. I look around my kitchen; half the delicate dishes still in the sink are covered with soapy hot water and the boys’ lunch plates are piled up high in a crooked stack. It would take me only twenty minutes to finish. Then I can cross that job off my daily list. I press my lips together as I think and catch a glimpse of the three little faces looking up at me with big, begging eyes. I put my wet towel down and the four of us head off to find a project together.

We decide to read a book about animals that live in the ocean and continue with the theme by drawing pictures and using Play-Doh to re-create what we have just read about. Everything is going fine but my now very active kids are ready for something else. They are poking each other and starting to run around the table. I also know this code. They need some physical activity to burn off some energy. In Arizona in the summer months, this is not as easy as a walk to the park.

Here are some fun summer ideas to keep your children active:
Water parks--Pros: If through the parks department, they are typically free. Cons: Find out the hours and get there early; they usually get pretty crowded.

Pools--Backyard or public pools are a great way to cool off and get exercise. But I beg you, watch your children around water. Have fun but be safe. Sign your children up for lessons if they haven’t had them. It breaks my heart to read about all the drownings of children. These accidents can be prevented.

Indoor play areas with bouncers or large game rooms--Pros: You children will run around so much that they will be falling asleep on the way home. Cons: These places can be expensive. Try to arrange to meet friends and ask about a group admission discount or look for online coupons.

Local gyms--If you belong to a gym, check out the activities that they offer for kids. My gym has fitness classes, rock wall climbing, and some sports classes like indoor soccer and karate. Most of kids activities are an additional charge to members but very affordable. These may be offered to non-members as well. You just need to call.

Bowling--Pro: Great fun for everyone. Con: This costs money too. Check with local businesses to find out about daily discounts or group rates.

Fun at home-games like Simon Says, active Wii games or even putting on music and dancing around the room may help to keep your child engaged and burning off energy--Pro: Everyone will have fun. Con: It takes more effort on your part to come up with a fun game that involves jumping, running in place, etc.

Local parks--These are still one of their favorite places but I take them early in the morning or in evenings when the temperature drops to under 100 degrees. I look for covered play areas and always bring lots of water to drink.

For me, it comes down to planning. I try to make a weekly schedule and post it where the kids can read about what activities we will be doing. Enjoy your summer!

Edited by Alison Stanton

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