One of our family rules is that each kid needs to participate in at least one organized physical activity. It can be any one that suits them, but they have to pick at least one.
Since school takes up a large part of their day, knowing they have some sort of scheduled physical activity during the week feels like it’s the right solution to ensure my kids are staying active. Of course they still have free time when they can play outside however they like, too. We’ve found that when they’re involved on a team, they actually tend to choose more active play when they do have free time as if it’s some sort of formula where play leads to more play. Though it can be difficult to fit playtime in around all the other activities during the school year, by getting creative and establishing a routine, you’ll be sure your kids are healthy and thriving all year long.
Over the years, my boys have played soccer, baseball, basketball, and tennis. They’ve taken karate, hip hop, and gymnastics. All three have been involved with a running team. One was on a swim team. They didn’t do all of these activities all at once. We might have a busy schedule, but we aren’t that busy.
So how do you figure out what is the right activity for your kid?
Some parents start with what they know. The sports they played as a kid. In our house, Coach Dad is currently coaching three soccer teams this season. In the past, all three of our boys have played. Currently, only one is choosing to, though another hasn’t ruled out playing next season. We’ve gotten some interesting reactions from people when they find out not all of the kids are playing soccer, with them asking how Coach is taking it… he’s taking it just fine because our kids are still getting in plenty of play time, even if it isn’t in his favorite sport.
Which is why you should ask your kids what activities they want to try. While some of the activities my kids have participated in are pretty much what you think of when you think of youth sports, I hadn’t thought that they’d have wanted to try others, like tennis or swimming or hip hop.
Make sure you listen to what they don’t want to do, too. Maybe your child isn’t all that enthusiastic about any activity in particular, but if they’re set against certain ones, you can find a compromise. No one wants a fight every time it’s time for a practice, game, or meet. That might be a form of exercise in itself, but it’s not one I’d recommend.
Check out the details. How many days a week are there practices and games? How long are those? Can you logistically get your kids where they need to be when they need to be there? Do you know other kids on the team so you can carpool?(you can get away without this one, but it definitely makes it easier if you and another parent can help each other out) How long is the season? How much does it cost to play? Are there additional fees each week or month or game? What sort of equipment and uniforms are required? Is there a short camp or set of lessons your child can try before committing to a full season? Will they still have plenty of time for free play with their friends?
Accept that you might not find the right fit right off the bat. Allow your kids to try different activities. While we tend to make our kids finish out a season once they’ve started, we’ve allowed them to switch activities later. Sometimes they go back to a previous sport and other times, they don’t. But allowing them the freedom to choose has kept my kids enthusiastic about their activities.
Hopefully, after trying a few different activities, your kids will find somethings they love, which will help keep them playing. And no matter what activities they choose, we need to make sure kids are getting the nutrients they need. CLIF Kid Zbar® is a go-to around here. They are perfect for growing kids and come in flavors kids love, like chocolate chip and iced oatmeal cookie.
You can find more about my kids’ favorite snack on the Clif Kid Facebook Page and check out their Come Out to Play video, which encourages our kids to play the way we did as kids.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.