I’ve always loved the Olympics – the festivities, the pomp and circumstance, the drama and suspense, the emotional re-caps at the end of the day set to cheesy music! But this is the first time that it’s been an experience I can really share with my children (ages 3 and 5). It provides such a great opportunity to focus on our family value of staying active and healthy, and provides LOTS of inspiration and plenty of role models for this.
Did you know today is National “Let’s Move Olympic Fun Day”, in honor of our Olympic Team? I recently saw a video of the first lady inviting American families and neighbors to “Meet up” and get moving together, encouraging kids to stay active like their Olympic heros. Well, we were a day early, but that’s exactly what my “Parent with Purpose” group did yesterday! watch the video
9 families gathered outside at The Village, in the spirit of the Olympics for our own little field day and celebration! We got movin’ with a soccer ball, softball, and hoops and bean bags. We used the colorful hoops to make the 5 Olympic rings, and made our own commemorative 2012 Olympic frisbees using paper plates, crayons, and streamers. (Much cheaper than any official london souvenirs, I’m sure.) We gathered over goldfish crackers to sing “Hello” and body songs and talk about how the athletes keep their bodies healthy – doing stretches, and taking deep breaths, eating a rainbow, exercising, and getting a good nights’ sleep. We played a guessing game with picture cards showing silhouettes depicting different summer sports like diving, volleyball, and balance beam. And the children were wonderful actors when it came to invisible weight-lifting! We all chose instruments and made a parade for the opening ceremony, marching in a tree triangle to the famous “NBC” Olympic tune.
We huddled up, put our hands in the middle of the circle and chanted, “USA…USA…..Go team!” (Then one of the moms explained what USA stood for – thanks, Jann!) We then stood on the sidelines and cheered for each other as we tried some “team” races – a three legged race, a potato sack relay. It was great to see new friends tied up together, and moms and kids working together, as well. Sam showed us the triangle, we talked about what “tri” means, and then did our own little mini-triathlon: running, biking (triking/ scooting/ strolling), and swimming!
We even had our own little Olympic ceremony. The kids received metals and little American flags, and we held them high to sing the National anthem. Way to go, “Team USA kids”! (This fun “Play-date with Purpose” also made for great naps all around at my house yesterday afternoon.)
Here are some of the family health tips I shared…
Family Health Tips
- Start a ritual of “Family Play” after dinner – hide and seek, chase or tag outside, a family walk or bike ride, “1,2,3, Touch another tree!”, indoor dancing, rough and tumble on the carpet. Get moving and bonding and laughing together!
- Use the phrase “In our family, we take care of our bodies.” Use it regarding your grocery shopping, your sleep habits, your family movement and fitness activities, your naps and deep breathing, your stretching, your use of sunscreen, brushing teeth, your doctor check-ups, etc.
- MODEL your values. Model this for them in your own life, and tell them what and why: “Mommy will help you after I finish eating. I am hungry, and I need to refuel my body.”; “It feels great to be outside exercising with you – that’s good for my brain and my body!”; “It’s time for you to rest your brain and body. Mommy is going to do the same. Sleep is so important in our family.”
- Focus on Effort and Hard Work, not Skill and Achievement. Whether it’s sports or practicing a new skill. With children , “It’s about the process, not the product.” That’s when the learning takes place. For research-based praise phrases and more on the psychology of using praise with children, check out my post, “NurtureShock Lessons: The Inverse Power of Praise”
- When you’re watching athletes (Olympians or your children), talk about what their amazing bodies can do, NOT what they look like.
- Get Cooking Together: Schedule a “Family Meal” at least once a week – that means everyone in the family is part of the effort: helping with the shopping, cooking, setting the table, cleaning up, etc…Check out my posts on “Good Fingers, Good Food, Good Fun” and “Magic Milkshakes!”
When Dr. Daddy Dustin and I did our presentation for MJ’s pre-school, we presented 4 visuals to remind the kids how to stay healthy – you could get your kids to help you with these, talk about each one, and put them somewhere as a reminder in the house :
- Draw a “rainbow” to remind the children to eat a healthy rainbow of foods. I taught the kids my “rainbow” song that lists the colors: “red, orange, yellow, green, and blue, and purple”, and the kids thought of foods for each. (Put this pic in your kitchen.)
- A picture of the outdoors. We drew someone running outside near a tree, under the sun. This is to remind the children to get exercise by playing outside every day. The AAP recommends one “green hour” of play for kids not only for exercise, but for exploration and cognitive development. (You could put this pic by the TV or the back door.)
- A picture of someone in bed to remind them to get lots of sleep to help keep their brain and body healthy. “Rest-time” and down-time is also crucial for relaxation and processing. Parents, too!
- A picture of hands washing. Teach your kids that washing their hands is one of the best ways to stay healthy! In our family we say, “We wash our hands before we eat” and “We wash our hands after we go potty.” Teach them about those sneaky little invisible germs, and challenge them to suds up for the length of time it takes to sing a favorite song refrain. We simply sing, “This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands…after we go potty.”