My family keeping active is important to me. Whilst my children were not at school I am aware that not only were they missing out on their PE lessons for fitness, but nor were they walking (or cycling) to school and back. Neither was I. To combat this lack of exercise I made sure that I planned some activities for the children over the summer holidays. The children also continued their swimming lessons (which also means they can swim for free at other times too).
Here are my 10 tips for an Active Family Summer
TIP 1: Plan (Location and parking)
You do not have to plan your whole Summer, but I think it makes things a lot less stressful/more enjoyable with the kids if you have some idea of what’s happening. Where you are going, how you are getting there, any costs you may incur when you get there (parking/face-paint, etc), how long you will be, and what you are doing about food.
You can read about how our trip to London Zoo included an overnight stay to make things less stressful, and a detour to a great (unplanned) park – which also leads on to the next tip.
TIP 2: Get plenty of sleep
Especially if you/your children have a big day of activities planned, then it is really important to get a good night’s sleep before hand. When planning make sure you space the activities out so that no-one becomes over-tired.
TIP 3: Check what is provided locally.
My youngest two children were booked into some football/activity days out local schools. As I booked early I got them cheaper. They just needed to have a drink/lunch/snacks. I am pleased that my youngest was able to go (due to his special needs). The guy that runs it also works within their school and said he would be fine with him. I also knew that if not I was only a phone call away and just down the road. It turns out he did amazingly well and consequently is now doing football after school club like all the other boys in his class. These local activities also gave them a good opportunity to catch up with friends from school.
TIP 4: Consider the ages and abilities of the children
I am aware of the age gap between my children (the oldest is more than 12 years older than the youngest) and so some activities are just not suitable for all of them. I wanted to try to balance the holidays so that all the children had a fair share of doing something that they would enjoy. Since reading The Hunger Games my second oldest is just loving Archery and had a go on a school trip, and again on holiday. He has in fact declared it as his favourite activity so far. So we were delighted to hear that local Cotswold Archery had lessons which included the summer holidays (read about the Archery here).
TIP 5: Eat well
It is important to maintain a balanced healthy diet. Obviously the more active you are the more calories you will need to consume. Packing a picnic is a great idea to make sure you all have foods you like, can eat when it suits – and personally I think it makes it more fun.
TIP 6: Try new things
I think it is important to encourage children to try new things. The best way to do this is by doing new things with them, and then they will learn by example that it is good to experiment. Sometimes you can do these things by yourselves, and other times it is good to have instruction. Our family dynamics mean it is sometimes difficult to try new things – and support makes it easier.Again our second oldest really wanted to try canoeing; him and his 6 year old brother had both missed out on canoeing whilst we were on holiday and it was something they really wanted to do. So we were thrilled that Go Canoeing offered the opportunity to have a starter session as a family (read about the Canoeing here).
TIP 7: Just do what you normally do
Out on their Bikes/Scooters
This doesn’t have to be a time for great changes, my boys get lots of exercise from our trampoline and this continues whether it is school time or the holidays. My middle two boys love nothing more than going to school on their bikes and scooters. The holidays do not have to be a time to stop enjoying going out on them and actually make a simple trip out a bit more exciting. We were delighted to be offered £30 to revamp their Micro Scooter to give it a fresh new look ready for back to school. It may also have resulted in me buying my youngest a Micro Scooter for Christmas – but he had it on the first day of school! I figured he needed much help as possible with catching up with his peers and at first he could not ride it. It didn’t take him long though and am really proud of how fast he has picked it up. Read about registering and revamping your Micro Scooter.
TIP 8: Wear suitable clothing
Make sure you have clothes that match the activity. Will they get dirty? I try not to get rid of all their old clothes in a mad summer clear out – in fact that old school uniform comes in handy for some of the more muddier activities. Also think about whether you need something waterproof? Or whether a towel needed?
TIP 9: Drink plenty
All this activity is thirsty work. We take plenty of bottled water with us. For the children who do not like plain water then we add a touch of flavour for them. Vimto Squeezy is a super concentrated low calorie mixed fruit juice drink that comes in Strawberry, Cherry and original Vimto flavour. Simply squeeze a drop into every 100ml of water. They invited us to try some whilst enjoying the dizzy height of Go Ape -yeh it was a bit scarier than that! We had previously been before but it was a long journey away. I am pleased to say that the more local branch at Wyre Forest, Worcestershire now does the Go Ape Junior trail.
TIP 10: Make sure you are wearing sun-screen. Even if it doesn’t look particularly bright.
Originally the idea was that our second oldest son would have a surfing lesson as part of his birthday present. Since joining Scouts (first as a Cub) he has become more and more interested in outdoor pursuits. We went to near Newquay in Cornwall as it has a fantastic reputation for surfing. All the kit was provided and he just needed a towel. Ideally water to drink afterwards was advised too. It was so good that he went again the next day with his younger brother to the kids surfing lesson. I was really impressed with how much they emphasized the importance of sunscreen, checking several times that everyone was wearing it. See our video of what you need to know about surfing before you hit the water.
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