Keeping Children Active and Healthy Over Summer Vacation

Free from homework and quizzes, children have plenty of time to play and relax their minds during summer vacation. Nonetheless, many parents experience some sort of struggle to keep their children both active and healthy summer vacation. Whether this is due in part to a parent's busy work schedule or a child's fascination with watching TV in the middle of the day, there are so many excuses for why children aren't active all summer long. The truth is that there are so many things that can occupy your children's time over the summer months to keep their bodies moving and their minds thinking. Here are a few ideas for how to keep children active and healthy over summer vacation.

Limit Screen Time

Summertime is a child's time to have a break from the everyday school routine of classes, projects, and tests. Even so, they do still need some rules to follow throughout their vacation. One of these rules can be to limit the amount of time they spend in front of the computer, tablet, television, and other electronics. It's okay to allow them some time to play their favourite games and watch their favourite shows, but it gets out of hand when they are allowed to do so all day throughout summer vacation. Too much screen time can even have negative effects on a child's health, according to the National Institutes of Health. These effects include a higher risk of attention problems and obesity, and it can cause a child to have trouble sleeping at night. To combat these negative effects of too much time in front of screens, allow your children only a couple of hours of screen time each day. Plan to watch shows and do other screen-related activities ahead of time, and don't keep the TV on as background noise. If it's the sound that your children want to hear, turn on some music or an educational podcast. If video games are your child's thing, provide them with other options like crosswords or brain teasers, board games, or card games. 

Encourage Socialization

Children get to spend a lot of time with other children their age during the school year, and in class is where they often build friendships. In the summertime, children might not spend as much time with certain friends as they did during the school year. This may be because their friends live far away, parents not being available to watch the children as they hang out, or even the children don't think to contact each other outside of the school year. As their parent, encourage your children to stay in touch with their friends over the summer. If your child is rather young, you might set up the play dates for them by getting in touch with the parents of your children's friends. If there are children that live in your neighbourhood, get your children outside on bikes or playing in the yard. Whether or not your children are already friends with these people, this may help to encourage the neighbourhood children to come over and play with your children. 

Be Prepared With Plans

No matter how old they are, most children need a little help when it comes to thinking of things to keep them active and healthy over the summertime. They might have some ideas in mind, but those might include playing video games and eating junk food. Having some plans for healthy activities to keep your children busy will help to keep them on their toes and distracted from the unhealthy things they want to do. Here are a few examples of healthy plans for your children over summer vacation:

  • Find some easy and healthy recipes for your children to help you cook for lunch or dinner. 
  • Try some creative crafts like tie-dying t-shirts, painting tiles, or making bracelets.
  • Go on a hike or walk at a local park or nature reserve. Bring a book to help you identify animals and plants along the way.
  • Do yoga in the mornings with your children. If it's nice enough, do it outside.
  • Go swimming at a local beach, or take your children fishing.
  • Have your children help you in the garden. You might even section off a small area for them to plant their own flowers or vegetables. 
  • Plan for a weekly cleaning day where your children help you with chores around the house like cleaning closets, moppingfloors, or picking up the yard.
  • Take trips to places you don't get to go often with your children like local government buildings and historic sites, museums, libraries, etc. 

While all of these plans are great to keep your children active and healthy during summer vacation, not every parent can spend all summer with their children. For those parents, consider signing your children up for a day camp. This will help your children to spend time with other people their age and make new friends. These day camps will keep children active all day doing healthy activities and going on fun field trips. 

Children staying active and healthy over summer vacation is important in order to occupy their busy minds and bodies during a time that they have few responsibilities outside of what you delegate to them. As their parent, you've got the responsibility to keep them on time to all of their summer activities, track the costs involved with them, and more. If you happen to be divorced or separated, doing so might be difficult if you aren't using the right tools to help you communicate information to your co-parent. The OurFamilyWizard® website has parenting time calendars that allow you to document all of your children's summer vacation events and other activities. It's also equipped with expense tracking tools where you can document summer activity costs and request reimbursements between each other. Check out the OurFamilyWizard® website, and learn more about how it can help you and your co-parent to keep your children busy and healthy this summer vacation.