Most of us are aware of the number of hours that children spend watching TV, interacting via electronic media and other “sit-on-your-backside” behaviours. While computers and TV can be valuable for education and learning, the health benefits, skills and enjoyment that children get from being physically active are just as important.
So the question is what is the right amount of this type of activity? Australian guidelines recommend that children 5-12 years old should spend no more than 2 hours per day on small screen entertainment and aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity.
Let’s face it….children like to be stimulated whether it’s watching the TV or playing games.
Of course we as parents can set limits and remove the TVs from bedrooms in the hope this will encourage the children to play. But as a mum it is my experience that to keep children happy and active you need to create an environment that encourages the children to do so, really the easy option is to just sit and watch the box.
Yes, it will take a little time to set it up, but a box of bits and pieces and a games play list will help to encourage creative play and its amazing how quickly mum or dad can go back to their household chores if needed.
Some of my old favourite indoor games are:
- Simon says….Jump on one foot while waving your arms.
- Music chairs.
- Hopscotch up the hallway….use bits of ribbon as your markers instead of chalk.
- Create an obstacle course. Crawl under tables over chairs and use an egg timer.
- Twister games - try making up your own mat.
- Turn the music on and play Freeze dance or tie ribbons to pencils and do some ribbon dancing.
- Play indoor basket ball with rolled up newspaper and a bucket… line up some chairs and you just sit down throw the ball into the bucket and retrieve, easy and exhausting.
- Play limbo…put a broom between two chairs then crawl, walk under and put a little music on to get the feel.
You could even put a theme to the play and have an Hawaiian hour; every one wears sun glasses, puts on sunhats, plays with hula hoops, makes fun fruit cocktails and turn the lounge room rug into a pretend swimming pool. Then afterwards snuggle up under a blanket and read great stories about Hawaii and other countries.
The internet is a great source of inspiration for ideas, it doesn’t have to be fancy or messy just FUN!!
The main thing is to make it fun for everyone
We as parents are our children’s role models. Yes it will take a little planning and make a little mess but life’s about living and at the end of the day ask yourself one question:
When my children are older will they remember how clean the house was or how much fun we use to have on wet days playing games inside with mum and dad?
Cheryn Johnson is the fitness leader at Molong HealthOne. For more information on programs give Cheryn a call on 6392 3400
(A joint Australian, State and territory Government initiative)
For tips, go to www.healthykids.nsw.gov.au