Be in the running for holidays full of fun
Olympic athlete Jo Pavey tells LISA SALMON her top tips for keeping kids busy this summer break
DESPITE most children longing for time off school, six weeks of summer holidays all too often rapidly lead to cries of: “I’m bored!” Sound familiar? As a mum-of-two, Olympic athlete Jo Pavey knows this scenario first-hand. But she’s keen to highlight how keeping kids entertained over summer can also be a great opportunity to encourage them to be more active, along with the rest of the family too – something Jo and her husband Gavin consider central to family life.
“As a parent, it’s great to aim to be a good role model for your children by being active yourself,” says Jo, 45, who has joined forces with Simplyhealth (simplyhealth.co.uk) to inspire families to get on board with the idea.
“I enjoy showing my children that it’s fun to be active, and I feel it helps them associate it with a happy and healthy life.
“Getting active together as a family is so much fun. It’s a great way to spend quality family time together, while keeping fit and healthy,” adds Jo, mum to Jacob, nine, and five-yearold Emily.
Of course, no one can be active all the time, so Deena Billings, head of childcare at Busy Bees nurseries, has joined the campaign too, with additional suggestions for keeping youngsters entertained all summer.
Here are some ideas Jo and Deena:
“WHEN I head out running, instead of going alone, we regularly go to beautiful locations as a family,” says Jo. “My husband and I run, and our son and daughter love whizzing along on their bikes. They’ll often
Get the whole family active
do a little bit of running as well. We make it part of a fun day out by taking a picnic and staying around after to mess around on bikes or in the play park, and we often head down to the beach too.”
Keep it fun
JO stresses that if parents want children to get active, it’s important for them to be having a good time.
“It’s so important that they don’t think of being active as a chore, otherwise they could find exercising a negative experience. Whether you’re all active together as a family or they’re doing a club, it’s important for them to be taking part in something they enjoy,” she says.
Tell them how well they’re doing
“ALWAYS give praise when your child has made a good choice for their health and fitness, like being keen to take part in activity, and when they’ve been enthusiastic,” adds Jo. “It’s important for them to understand that the main thing you’re interested in is that they’re enjoying themselves.”
Enter an event together
“TAKING part in something together is great fun and good for family bonding,” says Jo. “We recently took part in the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Family Run.
“Our kids absolutely loved it, they really seemed to soak up the positive atmosphere.
“It was uplifting to see so many families running together and enjoying the experience.”
JO says it’s lovely to enjoy activities in the garden or local park together, so why not try ball games, tag or frisbee? Another fun idea is to make up obstacle courses or treasure hunts.
GET the kids involved
ASK the children what they’re interested in and if there are any new activities they’d like to try.
“Ask them to suggest activities
that the family could do together,” Jo urges. “It’s nice for children to feel like they’re contributing to making decisions on ways that the family can enjoy being active.”
Make time to rest
DEENA points out that downtime is as important as physical activity.
“Fun and games are exciting for children, but it can often leave them feeling tired and grumpy at the end of the day so make sure they get all the time-out they need, too.”
Stop tummies rumbling
CONSISTENCY is key in keeping children content, but it’s easy for this to falter over the summer, particularly if you’re on holiday.
“Keeping them fed, rested and in line with home routines wherever possible will make life easier for everyone, especially with younger children,” says Deena.
“Trying to get them out and about when they would normally be tucking into their lunch is going to make them irritable. By sticking to your routine schedule for meals, you’ll help curb tantrums triggered by hunger.”
FOR a stress-free experience, it’s a good idea to plan and organise activities ahead of time.
“There’s nothing worse than young children getting excited about a day trip, only to be disappointed when the tickets are all sold out,” says Deena.
Creating a simple schedule also means you can organise a mix of fun-filled and more relaxed days, which will help keep everyone in good spirits.
Why not do some research online together, so your child can see pictures of where they’ll be visiting?
Jo Pavey, left, keeps active with her family, above
Try taking a bike ride in the countryside
Keep hunger at bay with regular snacks Being active can boost your wellbeing