by Don Zabloski
The start of a new year naturally leads to reflecting on past accomplishments and setting goals for the year ahead. As a family, it can be a good time to celebrate things that are going well—and possibly press the “reset” button to correct any habits that may have slipped. For example, are all family members making a consistent effort be active and healthy? And, does everyone understand why it’s important to make that commitment?
As with all things, parents need to model positive behaviours and attitudes about healthy and active living. Of course, you have to take care of yourself before you can expect to take care of others. What will you do—or what are you already doing—to renew your physical and mental health?
Be a parent who is determined to inspire family members to be more active by setting the example. Go out for your own walk or run, then come back and tell everyone how great you feel. Next time, try inviting a family member to join you. You can also let the kids suggest an activity, such as skating, sledding or snow play. Even shovelling the driveway can become a team sport.
If you can, make the most of the time after school, before the daylight fades and the hibernation instinct kicks in. Say “yes” when the kids ask to climb on the schoolyard snow hill or construct a snow fort with their friends. Use active transport to walk home from school and get some fresh air. Encourage involvement in after-school activities or community programs.
If your child is involved in an organized sport, observe closely to be sure it is a positive situation for them. For example, are all the children playing and practising? Do the coaches behave as leaders and role models? Are a variety of skills being taught in an age-appropriate way? Is it a positive and friendly environment for participants and spectators alike? An enjoyable experience means your child will associate being active with feeling good, and he or she will be more likely to continue with it.
Organized sports and activity programs are important to acquire the necessary skills to be confident in a given activity, but try to avoid having your children specialize in any one sport too soon. Participating in a variety of sports and activities, especially from ages 5 to 12, will better prepare them for their future athletic endeavours. Introduce different activities and be open to your child’s suggestions of new things he or she would like to try.
Healthy eating choices are an important part of the equation, as well. When grocery shopping, aim to spend a large portion of your time in the produce section. Pack healthy, tasty lunches that reflect Canada’s Food Guide. You will all have more energy through the day as a result. Despite your family’s busy schedule of commitments and activities, look for opportunities to bring everyone together for a family meal, at least once a week.
Whatever your vision may be for the year ahead, enjoy the process of renewing, inspiring and empowering your active family.