10 Strategies for Active Family Living

 

soccer

If your family is not very active already, then beginning to change that status will not be any harder than making up your mind. Being an active family often requires very little money, but does require dedicated planning.With a sense of determination, and a little creativity, you can transform your family routine from mostly solitary and sedentary activities into a more healthful and physically fit group.

Physical activity is important for both children and adults, and being active together, as a family, benefits everyone. Adults need 2 1/2 hours a week of physical activity, and children need abut 1 hour or 60 minutes every day.

Here are a few tips to strategize making your family more healthy and physically fit.

  1.  Set specific activity times

Determine time slots throughout the week when the whole family is available. Devote a few of these times to physical activity. Try doing something active after dinner or begin the weekend with a Saturday morning walk.

2. Plan ahead and track your progress

Write your activity plans on a family calendar. Let the kids help in planning the activities. Allow them to check it off after completing each activity.

3.   Include work around the house

Involve the kids in yard work and other active chores around the house. Have them help you with raking, weeding, planting, or vacuuming.

4. Use what is available

Plan activities that require little or no equipment or facilities. Examples include walking, jogging, jumping rope, playing tag, and dancing. Find out what programs your community recreation center offers for free or minimal charge.

5. Build new skills

Enroll the kids in classes they might enjoy such as gymnastics, dance, or tennis. Help them practice. This will keep things fun and interesting, and introduce new skills!

6. Plan for all weather conditions

Choose some activities that do not depend on the weather conditions. Try walking around a shopping mall, indoor swimming, or active video games. Remember the Nintendo Wii? Enjoy outdoor activities as a bonus whenever the weather is nice.

7. Turn off the TV

Set a rule that no one can spend longer than 2 hours per day playing video games, watching TV, and using the computer (except for school work, of course). Instead of a TV show, play an active family game, dance to favorite music, or go for a walk.

8. Start small

Begin by introducing one new family activity and add more when you feel everyone is ready. Take the dog for a longer walk, play another ball game, or go to an additional exercise class.

9. Include other families

Invite others to join your family activities. This is a great way for you and your kids to spend time with friends while being physically active. Plan parties with active games such as bowling or an obstacle course, sign up for family programs at the YMCA, or join a recreational club.

10. Treat the family with some ‘fun’ physical activity

When it is time to celebrate as a family, do something active as a little family reward. Plan a trip to the zoo, park, or maybe a trip to a nearby lake as a family treat. Amusement Parks offer lots of walking and some fun rides, too.[that’s a real treat that also depends upon financial affordability-after bills are paid, fridge is stocked with food, and cars have full tanks, etc….]

Physical activity as a family, though it seems like a dying art these days, should be re-imagined, revisited and serve as a reminder to us that family is so important to our existences as social human beings. Family is extremely important as an indicator of the social climates in which we live. “So goes the family, so goes the nation.”

Enjoy time spent with family, and let’s help families stay healthy for as long as we have them with us. Time is so precious. Don’t wait until it’s too late-have some family fun and engage in physical activity, too. The best times spent with family, when they become a fond memory, should include those times when: playing baseball with Dad, cooking or baking a cake with Mom, riding bikes together with cousins, etc…

I know that I have the best memories associated with each of these times, and we were having fun together. Think about it!

 

Here’s How to Create Family Fun At the Dinner Table

fam tableMaking Family Mealtimes Fun

 

Sitting down together for a meal whenever you can is a great way to connect with your family. Keeping it relaxed is key to making sure you are getting the most out of this time together, including talking, laughing and choosing healthy foods. Here are some tips from families for making meals more relaxed in your home:
  • Remove distractions. Turn off the television and put away phones and tablets, so that your attention is on each other.
  • Talk to each other. Focus conversation on what family members did during the day, for example, what made you laugh or what you did for fun. Other conversation starters include:
    • Give each family member the spotlight to share their highlight, lowlight, and “funnylight” from the day or week.
    • If our family lived in a zoo, what animals would we be and why?
    • If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
    • If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one food to eat, what would it be and why?
      Your Table, Your Tips:  “With children you have to keep offering them a variety. You can’t just offer them something once & because they didn’t like it the first time give up…You’ll be surprised that after a few tries often children will change their minds. Mine did.” – Lisa, mom of 4 boys from Virginia
  • Pass on traditions. Tell children about the “good old days” such as foods grandma made that you loved to eat.
  • Let kids make choices. Set a healthy table and let everyone, including the kids, make choices about what they want and how much to eat.
  • Let everyone help. Kids learn by doing. The little one might get the napkins and older kids help with fixing foods and clean‐up.
  • Make-your-own dishes like tacos, mini pizzas, and yogurt parfaits get everyone involved in meal time.
  • On nice days, opt for a change of scenery. For example, go to a nearby park for a dinner picnic.
  • Reserve a special plate to rotate between family members, for example on birthdays, when someone gets a good grade, or any other occasion you’d like to recognize.

Pass these along, will you? If you would like to add more to this list, please leave a comment.

Leaders: Change Makers who Empower Change Agents

 

US DOE

Change is spoken about in education more and more each day. Herein lies the problem: Talk and opinions get us nowhere. We need to stop talking and spend more energy acting. Education has to change dramatically, but how this is initiated should no longer be a contentious topic for discussion or debate.

Many people agree that the structure and function of most schools across the globe no longer meet the needs of students in the digital age. A quiet revolution is gaining steam as more and more teachers and students push back against the very policies and mandates forced upon them. You need to decide whether to conform or to carve out your own path to provide your students with the education and learning experiences they deserve.

It Starts with You

Meaningful change always begins at the individual level. This is also where it is sustained so that it becomes embedded in the school or district culture. All educators and students must realize that they have the capacity to lead change. School leaders support this work by removing barriers to the change process, eradicating the fear of failure, providing autonomy, and empowering teachers to drive change at the classroom level. Your hardest but most gratifying work might be empowering your colleagues to change.

To help your colleagues see themselves as change agents in education, try these strategies.

  • Real change comes from colleagues modeling expectations for others. Lead by example even when it might be a lonely practice initially.
  • Share current research and practices that support the change you are championing.
  • Encourage colleagues resistant to change, especially administrators, to attend professional learning opportunities with you. Get them involved in quality professional development related to the change effort. Beg, barter, or plead to get your colleagues to attend and learn with you. If that doesn’t work, make sure you present what you learned at any recent learning experience either during a faculty meeting or one-on-one sessions.
  • Tackle fears head on to alleviate concerns.
  • Help others see the value of the change on their own.
  • Clearly articulate how the change will improve professional practice, resulting in improved student learning and achievement outcomes.
  • Be patient. Treat each colleague like a student and remember how satisfying and rewarding it was when you helped that student succeed.
  • Get your students involved. Schools should be designed to meet the needs of our students, but if they are not given a seat at the table and allowed to be a focal point of change efforts that ultimately affect them, you’ve missed a golden opportunity. There is no better way, in my opinion, to convince others to change when educators can see firsthand the impact it has on kids.
  • Work on building better relationships. This can open people to embracing change that they might otherwise have resisted.

The role of a change agent is to provide relevancy, meaning, and authenticity in the teaching and learning process. It hinges on our ability to provide an environment and activities that unleash our students’ passion for learning and allows them to create artifacts with the tools of their choice to demonstrate conceptual mastery. Additionally, it relies on a bold vision to grant students and educators the autonomy to take risks, learn from failure, and then adapt as needed. Meaningful change will happen only if we begin to give up control and establish a culture built on trust and respect.

Never underestimate the power that you have to make your school, district, and the entire education system better. Be the change that you wish to see in education, and others will follow. After all, real change comes from colleagues modeling expectations to others, not from those with titles.

Either we walk the talk of change or we should stop talking. Words without action is called: rhetoric!

Leaders: Be change makers who empower others to act as change agents paying it forward!

When Was the Last Time You Really Examined your Life?

When we’re little, journeys are easier to make. We skip our way through woods, happily chasing butterflies and turn over rocks with curiosity and delight. Our novelty-seeking instinct is in charge, and the right brain emotions of fear and disgust take a back seat.

As we get older, the journey becomes more difficult. We stop chasing butterflies for fear of falling on our knees. We stop peeking under rocks, fearful of what we’ll find. Sometimes we consciously place these rocks to hide what we aren’t prepared to face.

And yet, in the words of Socrates, “An unexamined life is not worth living”. By staying away from the darkness, and disconnecting from failures and grief, we also blind ourselves to what is strong and beautiful within us, and fail to shine our light upon the world.

Here is a three-step guide to help you take the journey inwards and make sense of your life, so you can start living each day with authenticity and wholeness.

Step 1: Have the Courage to Look Deep

It takes courage to expose ourselves to memories that may be tender and hurtful. Our motivational systems are geared towards avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. And yet,the past is the path to our inner child. It’s the part of us that stores our wholeness—our dust and sorrows, but also our gifts and hopes. As 20th century American novelist William Faulkner wrote in Requiem for a Nun, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Step 2: Have the Perspective to Look Wide

When we start exploring our past, we may come upon a lot of negative memories, thanks to our inherent negativity bias, and to the fact that we hang on to emotion-laden events. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman says that this is how our “remembering self” pieces together the story of our lives. If we wish for an unbiased and empowering story, we need to step back and ask ourselves: “Am I focusing on a single aspect of my early years?” “Is there something I’m not paying attention to?” Consciously jogging our memory allows us to remember positive events that may have washed over us, and then savor them to strengthen their place in our stories.

Step 3: Have the Curiosity to Look Again

Often we can be quick to jump to conclusions when making sense of our past. Connecting the dots gives our brain a dopamine kick—regardless of whether we connected them correctly or not. So it’s essential to look again. And again. We’re incapable of entering the vast unknown of our subconscious mind, and making sense of it in haste. It’s the work of a lifetime—and approaching it with the same curiosity with which we once roamed the woods can be the most liberating experience of all.

If your mind keeps going back to the past, or your mojo’s gone missing and you can’t progress towards your goals, perhaps it’s time to take the journey inwards. For in those mystic streets and alleys of your past, you’ll find your freedom. Freedom not of your past, but from the tentacles that kept you attached to it. Freedom not from your story, but from the fear that keeps you from embracing it. And freedom to take in life’s pains and joys, yours and those of others, and find meaning because of your past, and not in spite of it

 

 This article was originally published in Happify and reprinted in The Muse before appearing here.