Raising Active Kids in a Tech World

Mary apple picking

Mary apple picking

I’d like to think of myself as “outdoorsy” and I love nature. But I spend a huge part of my life indoors. Even when the weather is nice! (it’s called working a 40 hour work week). After an hour commute home by bus, I am seriously lacking in energy. My husband has supper ready and after we eat, I’d be happy to lie on the couch and read or watch TV. It’s not that I don’t want to go outside; it’s just that I feel like I might have to have Mary put me in the wagon and drag me home…

So I’ve figured out the way to stop my energy from being sapped – don’t remain seated after dinner! Mary and I tidy up, and then we’re out the door. She’s been very excited about the construction of a new park in our neighbourhood, and even though there’s one right beside our house, we have been walking to the new park together. Mary is happy to play for an hour or so, and I get some much needed fresh air and a bit of exercise.

We’ve recently hit a milestone in our park outings. Mary walked there and back all by herself. I couldn’t be prouder. On previous outings, my daughter had developed the interesting habit that as soon as her legs felt a smidge tired, she dropped dramatically to the sidewalk and asked to be carried or pulled in the wagon. It took several weeks to build up to this moment. I would keep asking her to walk just a little bit further, until it was no problem at all. Isn’t that exactly how adults have to reach health and exercise milestones? A little bit at a time. Slow and steady wins the race.

I am happy to see that my artsy daughter is appreciating the outdoors and getting some exercise. It’s all too easy to plop her at the table with paints or in front of the TV if I am feeling low energy, but just as adults have to commit to exercise for their health, so do kids.

I remember as a child spending lots of time outdoors, and I still see lots of kids in the parks and playing recreational sports, so I am wondering if anyone has an opinion about whether tech toys have decreased, or increased, the exercise levels of their young kids?

Mary enjoys watching TV and she will play an educational game or two on the tablet, but we try to limit it as much as possible (in a past post, I noted that parents (including myself!) should limit tech as well – http://cheomoms.com/parenting/parenting-and-technology-aka-mummy-put-down-your-phone/).

Although I don’t think tech toys like tablets or smartphones should be used 24/7, for kids or adults, I don’t think tech use has hindered her ability to have a normal active childhood, complete with balancing on play structures, rolling down grassy hills and going apple picking in the fall.

Everything in moderation? What are your thoughts?

Samantha lives in Stittsville with her husband, Jon, and their daughter, Mary. Samantha works full-time for the federal government and also enjoys writing part-time. She is a contributing writer for Ottawa Parenting Times Magazine and Ottawa West End Living.