Exercising with Kids: A Quick How to Guide Pt 1
When I give talks and meet with potential clients (or even just run into someone in the grocery store), people give me all sorts of excuses why they just can't exercise right now. 99% of the time the excuse they give me for why they can't is actually a reason why they should, and one of the biggest seeming barriers I get is KIDS! "I can't because of my kids," they say to me.
Your children are not an EXCUSE, Friend. They are a REASON!
Exercising with kids (No, I'm not talking about taking them to the gym and putting them in daycare there) teaches them values of work/reward, self-care, family time, and goal setting. These values cross over to every single part of their life! With that said, I need to make it very clear that your child should never be pushed beyond reason. Rather, you want to foster an appreciation and enjoyment. Ancestral tribes moved a ton more than we do but they also rested a ton more too! In modern culture, we exercise because we have inappropriate relationships with food and movement, in general. Teaching kids about healthy exercise is actually a reason for you to retrain yourself about movement and to evaluate your own relationship with food and exercise.
MOVEMENT is completely natural and needed for kids (and really anyone), EXERCISE is completely unnatural.
While that statement isn't the best advertisement for our gym, it is the truth. Can you imagine the look on the faces of some rain forest tribesmen if you told them you were going to run around like an idiot, pick up heavy stuff, and jump up and down....well... "just because"? It's erroneous! The body is programmed for least resistance, conservation of energy. Plus, when food is scarce, the last thing you want to do is waste energy on something that accomplishes nothing. Keep this in mind when exercising with kids. Can you give it a purpose... one that goes beyond how your body looks or what food indiscretion you need to work off? This will create the positive and lasting relationship you want for your kids and with your kids!
If the purpose is to hurt and be miserable, you are missing the point.
Does that even sound like something you want for any relationship for your kid? There is a huge difference between punishing your body and reaching for a goal. I have been in numerous 5K's where the parent is dancing next to their crying child telling them to "Come on you can do it!" Even in our gym, we often request that the parents of young athletes just leave rather than stand by. A goal is an internal desire for a specific personal outcome. Achieving goals is a skill that needs to be fostered.
YOUR GOAL FOR THE EXERCISE IS NOT YOUR CHILD'S GOAL.... so leave them alone!
This is a great talking point at the beginning of any sweat session. "What's our goal for today?" It might just be to use our bodies in a fun way, or to practice balance, or to spend time together, or help tire out the dog. Whatever the goal for the day might be, try to organize your adult brain around it. While it's ok to have your own goal and to share those, don't expect your kid to achieve that same thing and have things for them to do while you do you.
Our family is laser focused on including movement into our day, movement that matters. When you see me sweating my rear off on an adult sized scooter with a baby in a pouch riding next to a two and a half year old on his big boy bike, just smile and wave. If I'm wearing my Paw Patrol mask, I'm probably on a mission. It's ok to shake your head a bit.... I'm used to it :-)