The Daily Telegraph

Fun ways to keep your chil­dren ac­tive this au­tumn

With a wet half-term on the hori­zon, Joel Snape says a bit of rain needn’t stop play…

- Productivity · Lifestyle · Healthy Living · Family · Parenting · Lifehacks · Royals · Celebrities · Prince George, Duke of Cambridge · Cambridge · Youtube · Prince William of Wales · Katie Taylor

How much phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity are your chil­dren get­ting? There’s a chance that your gut feel­ing is “loads”. How­ever, the real an­swer is prob­a­bly “not enough”, and if you spent the rain-drenched week­end hun­kered down on the sofa to­gether for end­less snacks and screen­time, you may have no­ticed your off­spring bounc­ing off the walls by mid-af­ter­noon.

You’re in good com­pany on that last point. The Duke of Cam­bridge dis­cussed his fam­ily’s love of na­ture in last night’s ITV doc­u­men­tary Prince Wil­liam: A Planet for Us All, and de­scribed Prince Ge­orge as “like a caged an­i­mal” if he doesn’t spend time out­doors.

Schools are do­ing their best to keep chil­dren out­doors and ac­tive, but jug­gling the de­mands of so­cial dis­tanc­ing and staff short­ages means they’re of­ten fall­ing short. Ac­cord­ing to teach­ers sur­veyed by the Youth Sports Trust, half of schools were pro­vid­ing fewer than 30 minutes of daily ac­tiv­ity time for chil­dren, in­clud­ing 12 per cent who said that there were no ac­tive minutes at all.

Just three per cent of sec­ondary schools said that they would be of­fer­ing more PE this term, de­spite teach­ers hav­ing iden­ti­fied “low phys­i­cal fit­ness” and “men­tal well­be­ing, in­clud­ing anx­i­ety and fear” as an is­sue in re­turn­ing pupils.

This isn’t a triv­ial prob­lem. Apart from set­ting good pat­terns for later life, phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity is a key fac­tor in chil­dren’s men­tal well­be­ing, and there are se­ri­ous con­cerns that the pan­demic is ex­ac­er­bat­ing dif­fer­ences be­tween dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren and their peers. Mean­while, the Gov­ern­ment’s “on­line fit­ness plat­form” turns out to be... a Youtube chan­nel fea­tur­ing 13 very short videos, most of them pri­ori­tis­ing “in­spi­ra­tion” over ad­vice.

So how do you help your kids get ex­er­cise and stay happy and healthy now parks are muddy and liv­ing rooms dou­ble as of­fices? es? Here are some ideas…

Rough and tum­ble e

If you’re al­ready con­stantly tantly try­ing to sep­a­rate war­ring ring chil­dren, en­cour­ag­ing g them to be more phys­i­cal might seem like in­san­ity, but there are clear ben­e­fits to ram­bunc­tious play.

Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce, the au­thors of Wild Justice, e, sug­gest that, like dance, ce, rough­hous­ing might in­crease bal­ance and cog­ni­tive per­for­mance, e, due to its un­pre­dictabil­ity. To try it out in a con­trolled way, Darryl Ed­wards – founder of the “Pri­mal Play” method – sug­gests startin start­ing with the old­fash­ioned “shoul­der “sh barge”. Start in a solid stance, then let your yo young­ster try to up­root you from a stand­ing start. I If the weight disp dis­par­ity’s too much, try what fit­ness types c call a “dis­tracted p plank” – one per­son as­sumes the po­si­tion while the other tries to n nudge them

(g ( gen­tly!) out of it. Feel­ing ene en­er­getic? Get some mitt mitts and do some boxin box­ing prac­tice – thoug though it’ll prob­a­bly tire yo you out more than your d dar­ling child.

Re­think rainy days

It’s tempt­ing to write off wet days as a time to snug­gle un­der a blan­ket, but when they’re the rule rather than the ex­cep­tion that means a lot of in­ac­tive days. In­stead, give rainy walks a re­brand, as sug­gested by He­lene Mark, founder of Out­door Owls for­est nurs­ery in Rich­mond-upon-thames.

“In­stead of sell­ing a walk out­side try to call it a pud­dle hunt, or a parachute walk if it is windy,” she says, adding that you can make the most of pud­dle splash­ing by us­ing a stick to mea­sure the height of each splash, or take pa­per to cre­ate “splash art”.

An­other favourite with kids of all ages, she says, is the out­door ob­sta­cle course. “They’re ex­cel­lent for de­vel­op­ing mo­tor skills. Use planks and tyres, or make a sim­ple ver­sion by lin­ing up sticks in rows and jump­ing from one to the other.”

The side ben­e­fit of your rainy day re­brand: by chang­ing your child’s fo­cus to the things they can con­trol, rather than the things they can’t, you’ll be set­ting them up for suc­cess in other ar­eas. Re­mem­ber: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad cloth­ing.

Dive deeper into Youtube

Joe Wicks might be on sab­bat­i­cal, but there’s enough con­tent on Youtube to tackle a fresh work­out ev­ery day with­out re­peat­ing your­self. The key is to find stuff that sits in the sweet spot of be­ing chal­leng­ing but not too tricky – and prefer­ably stuff that doesn’t feel like ex­er­cise.

For some chil­dren, yoga might be calm­ing – Cos­mic Kids is the tod­dler-friendly al­ter­na­tive to the all-con­quer­ing Yoga With Adriene – while Gonoo­dle has a more Wick­sian vibe for the en­er­getic.

For slightly older chil­dren, danc­ing might be a more in­spir­ing ac­tiv­ity – Matt St­ef­fan­ina of­fers a se­ries of 10-minute tu­to­ri­als that’ll teach you to throw shapes to a host of pop­u­lar songs (some come with a lan­guage warn­ing).

Run er­rands

Take slug­gish­ness to task by giv­ing your kids jobs to do in­side and out the house. Ask them to help you de­liver shop­ping to neigh­bours, take parcels to the post of­fice or sweep up fallen leaves.

Gemma Bray, au­thor of The Or­gan­ised Mum Method, has some ideas on how to in­cen­tivise them. “You can ask them to help you de­clut­ter then al­low them to keep the money from any items that can be sold on­line or at a car boot sale. I also ad­vise that par­ents tell their chil­dren that if they help them with house­work, they’ll have more time to do fun things to­gether.

“Lastly, make it fun! Stick on a playlist and get clean­ing. Spend­ing qual­ity time with you – even if it’s clean­ing – means the world to them.”

You could also in­vest a few pounds in some lit­ter pick­ers and bin lin­ers, and take your brood out for a rub­bish hunt, mak­ing your area more scenic in the process.

Na­ture and nur­ture

While your chil­dren, un­like the royal off­spring, may not have a 20,000acre es­tate on their doorstep, you can give them a na­ture hit in any neigh­bour­hood. Katie Tay­lor, au­thor of the blog Lit­tle one with na­ture, sug­gests mak­ing your fam­ily walks more ex­cit­ing by head­ing out with a pair of binoc­u­lars and a wish­list. “This way, you feel a sense of achieve­ment when you spy a heron, moorhen, or field­fare,” she says.

“Squir­rels are busy now hid­ing nuts ev­ery­where. If you’re lucky enough to get to see them, red deer are mag­nif­i­cent dur­ing the au­tumn rut; stags’ antlers are at their hugest and most im­pres­sive now.”

Have a ‘no-couch’ rule

Be hon­est: it’s far too easy to slump into the couch and stay there for the rest of the evening, whether you’re an adult watch­ing Ozark or a kid play­ing Fall Guys. One fix: in­sti­tute a rule where screen time has to be taken on the floor: with no up­hol­stery to sink into, kids are more

Rather than tak­ing them for a rainy stroll, call it a ‘pud­dle hunt’ or a ‘parachute walk’

likely to fid­get, stretch, or cut their screen­time short. Of course, this works a lot bet­ter if you stick with the most im­por­tant rule…

Lead by ex­am­ple

If you’re en­cour­ag­ing your kids to be more phys­i­cally ac­tive, the path to vic­tory is do­ing it your­self. That doesn’t have to mean dis­ap­pear­ing for a four-hour bike ride.

It could mean go­ing for a power walk, play­ing chase around the play­ground, or just carv­ing out 10 minutes for a burst of HIIT. And a brac­ing round of burpees might ac­tu­ally help you all cope a bit bet­ter now win­ter is com­ing.

 ??  ?? Let’s go out­side: to avoid your kids get­ting cabin fever, fol­low the ex­am­ple of Prince Ge­orge, be­low, who, ac­cord­ing to Prince Wil­liam, is ‘like a caged an­i­mal’ if kept cooped up
Let’s go out­side: to avoid your kids get­ting cabin fever, fol­low the ex­am­ple of Prince Ge­orge, be­low, who, ac­cord­ing to Prince Wil­liam, is ‘like a caged an­i­mal’ if kept cooped up
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK