Spring has finally come to the frigid Midwest and if you are anything like me you are digging through your cedar closet to find your shorts and sunscreen to head outside!
The first week or two of spring are glorious. We all want to be outdoors, raking the flower beds, cutting the grass for the first time of the season, taking a long walk or bike ride to the park, finding our long-lost neighbors, but as the weeks wear on the novelty wears off and often we revert to our usual patterns. The binge watching of Lost in Space or the lure of the new baseball season will get us indoors again not to mention the constancy of Instagram and Facebook. Some of our weekends are spent on the sidelines of kids’ sports events while others are readying for commencement from preschool, grade school, middle school, high school and beyond.
Spring is a chance for us to renew again our commitment to our kids and family and maybe try some new ways to connect and get healthy.
We already do so much for our families it seems how much more could we do?? Between getting the chores of uniforms cleaned and cupcakes made, showing up on time to game after scrambling from work to make it, actually trying to have a meal on the table for dinner a few nights a week there doesn’t seem much time left!
BE THERE. COMPETELY. NO DISTRACTIONS. FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES A DAY. This suggestion doesn’t add time or work but does add immense value. How many times have you found yourself with your child but realized you’re really paying attention to them but rather you are answering emails, looking at FB or Instagram, talking on the phone, or taking photos or videos for Instagram and turning the time into a photo op? If you find that 30 minutes is too long at first don’t give up! Start with 10 minutes and work your way up to 30 minutes. Play on the floor, swing at the playground, build with Legos, watch the soccer game (and not talk to the other parents the whole time), listen to their 20 minutes of aloud reading and not check your phone, have a tea party, play dress up, hear about their day or tell them about yours. You get the idea.
No parent can be constantly present AND attentive but I wager that in the old days when I was a kid, my parents didn’t necessarily come to as many things but when they did they were ALL IN and as a result it was much more meaningful for all of us. Take time this spring to renew your commitment to your children and leave your phone in your pocket. See how hard it is! And just BE THERE.
Springtime also naturally encourages us to get outside. Kids of all ages model what they see and when we show them that physical activity matters and can be integrated into everyday life, our kids value it too. This spring, role model more activity. For example, take a walk after dinner with or without your kids. They can start on their homework alone or do the dishes while you’re gone if they aren’t coming with you. You don’t have to be gone long or go far, 20 or 30 minutes is plenty. If you can go with your spouse it’s even better! You will get a few precious minutes to talk alone (and maybe even hold hands!), your kids will get the chance to be independent (age 7 and up) and they will see that being physically active is a priority for you. Bringing them along is great too of course but don’t let them off the hook about the dishes 😉
A family dance party or bike ride a few days a week is a good alternative as well! If your family isn’t sporty, planning to visit a new park each weekend is another great way for everybody to get out and active.
Renewing your connections to your family and a healthier lifestyle will boost your mood and energy level, not to mention you could get some clean dishes out of the deal!