Hello, my name is Jen and I am the parent of extremely active children. No, this is not a clinical diagnosis. This is my mommy diagnosis. I have seen what happens to my two tiny humans if I keep them indoors for too long. It is not a pretty sight. In all fairness, my husband and I are very active people so there is a good chance they inherited their need to move from us. He and I also start to get itchy if we spend too much time indoors. We made a conscious decision to spend as much time outside as a family as possible. This ensures the tiny humans have enough space to release their extra energy. We started our kiddos hiking, biking, boating, camping, and adventuring from a very early age. We wanted these activities to become the norm for our family.
Hiking is our most prominent activity because we find that it’s the easiest one to do with kids (just throw them in a pack and hit the trail) and there is a wide range of options throughout the state. We’ve even done several 14ers with them. Although, now that they are three and five, they’re getting a bit too heavy to carry and not quite old enough to master the steep climbs. We’ve moved to shorter, less steep trails for now and we’ve started getting them on skis and their own bikes (instead of just a bike trailer). Camping is another activity that is getting easier as they get older (i.e. no more diapers, eating sticks, walking into the campfire, etc.). Most weekends are spent outdoors in the mountains. This is our happy place. So it should come as no shock to anybody reading this that when March hit, we knew that we were gonna be in trouble. How in the world are we going to keep these kids active when our options are all of the sudden limited and safety is a huge factor for ourselves and those around us?
We could no longer go to the mountains and practice skiing with the kiddos, the resorts were all closed. It was too cold to start camping, some trails still had snow on them, and biking was hit or miss depending on the weather. Unlike most parents, we were very fortunate that our daycare remained open through this crisis. It allowed for breaks from our kids that I know a lot of people did not have. Despite their time in daycare to play with other kids and get outside several times a day, though, these kids still needed lots of activity in the afternoons and weekends. Coming home did not equate to slowing down or relaxing for these little monsters. To keep them active, and away from screens as much as possible, we walked through our neighborhood, made chalk paintings on our driveway, blew bubbles, rode bikes and scooters, cooked dinner together, colored pictures, made playdoh monsters, held kitchen dance parties, and chased each other all through the house playing hide-n-seek. We also engaged in lots of FaceTime and Zoom calls with cousins and friends.
I always knew these kids were active, but what I realized in our additional time together through COVID-19 is that I have to either stop and play with them (make chalk art or dance with them) or incorporate them into the activity I’m doing (cooking together or letting them jump in the pile of clean clothes while I fold). Letting them play on their own is possible, and sometimes much needed, but only works in the very short-term. If my husband and I really want to keep them active, one of us has gotta participate along with them. I was in a virtual conference recently and the speaker had a saying “I see you, I love you, I need you.” After spending this additional time with the kiddos these past several months I see their excitement and engagement with the world around them and want to participate. I love how curious and funny and active they are and I need their energy to keep me going. If you have an active kiddo I know how tiring it can be, but I also know how rewarding it is to truly see them, love them, and need them.
Some of our favorite activities to keep those kiddos busy:
- Biking (we have a trailer similar to this)
- Camping (don’t want to venture out? Set it up in your backyard)
- Racing outside, scooters, roller skating
- Sidewalk chalk, bubbles, water sprinkler time
- Playdoh, arts and crafts, book time
- Zumba w/Becca
Some of our favorite hiking/biking spots include:
This is your “adventure parent” signing off. Keep exploring…