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Winter Fitness For Kids

Posted by Patience on January 8, 2010 at 7:00 AM in Family Activitieshealthplay
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sunset play

We are headed straight into the dark of winter. It is the time after the holidays when the dreaminess of snow and celebration is officially over. We instantly all come down with a wicked cabin fever, especially the kids. If you have small people bouncing off of walls at your house, here are few ideas to burn some of that built up energy.

Run the course. Build an obstacle course out of pillow cushions, dining room chairs, table cloths over tables, etc. Have kids, climb, crawl, cross over at their own pace and then time them to really get them going.

Dance Party. Shake what yo mama gave ya! Clear the furniture in your living room to create an instant dance floor. Turn on some music way too loud and get moving. Dancing is a great way to connect and burn some calories together.

More is more. When it isn't bitterly cold, the right weather wear or an extra layer might be the only thing keeping us from a winter walk or quick game of tag. Break out the gloves and scarves, give your kids a chance to run around in the fresh crisp air even if it is just for a few minutes.

Old school fun. Bring back the simple and fun games of your childhood and play with your kids. Play an indoor game of hide-and-seek, twister or have a tickle fight. Simon Says is great way to have kids doing jumping jacks or jogging in place for crazy amounts of time. It's like your own kid aerobics class.
When all else fails, you can break out the hula hoops in the garage.

Break out. If everyone is about to go looney, head to your local children's museum. They almost always have at least one gross motor skills exhibit. Winter is also the perfect time to enroll your kids in a karate, gymnastics or swimming class at your local community center.

What are your fitness tips for kids surviving until the warmth returns? Give us all your best ideas in the comments.


Learning In Losing

Posted by Patience on November 4, 2009 at 10:03 AM in play
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go fish

It was an epic battle battle of Monopoly. Jack had been begging us to play for weeks but honestly I was dreading it. Jack had been losing at lots of games lately and it was starting to really bother him. I think he thought this might be his chance to show the world (i.e. his brother) and himself what he can really do. He's a good little negotiator and is already sporting some business sense in these early years.

Jack had built a nice little empire of properties while Josiah turned down most opportunities to purchase real estate. Josiah was being cautious, waiting for the right moment but I could tell even he was starting to get nervous. Then he landed right on the jack pot, Park Place. He had acquired Boardwalk a few turns ago in a deal with Jorge. He immediately sunk every last penny into houses and hotels. Everything was stacked, the stakes were high, he just had to wait.

"Oh, I am so sorry Mom that you have to pay me but the rent is $350, I'm so sorry." Jack said with the most sincere heart. I smiled and paid my dues while quietly hoping Jack would win. The next turn Jack rolled the dice, counted nervously and instantly buried his face into his hands, Boardwalk. He landed on Boardwalk. He knew it was over, the heartbreak was just too much. We did the math, trying to keep him alive in the game while he sobbed.

"I lost everything!" he cried. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure what to say. I just rubbed his back, agreed and listened. I wondered how I could have navigated this parenting moment better. The competition was too much but he wanted to try so badly. I kept thinking how hard it is sometimes to be little and have someone bigger, faster, stronger ahead of you. Being the middle child myself, I know this part of learning, growing, being shapes who you are.

Tell me what do you do in moments with your children when losing feels so big?
How do you handle games, competition, and the like? Do share in the comments.


How to Play with Kids

Posted by Jen on October 7, 2009 at 9:00 AM in Jenplay
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Have you seen the caterpillar book? from andrea scher on Vimeo.

My friend Andrea recently posted this adorable video with her son Ben & her husband Matt playing together. I loved it for a hundred reasons--the best being it's such a great example of how to really play with kids. Knowing how to play with kids is one of those things that is supposed to be an obvious skill--I mean, what's to it, right? You sit, you laugh, you play. But as any parent who has wearied of the knock-knock joke will tell you, it's not always automatic, it's not always easy and it's not always fun.

Here are three tricks you can try to fake yourself out if play doesn't come easy to you.

Set the timer. By putting yourself on the timer, you take yourself off the clock and give yourself permission to not get a single thing done. For you list-makers out there, this approach also lets you thinking of your playtime as something on your to-do list that you can check off later.

Do nothing. This is the answer to all that ails you if you are play challenged and feel at a loss when faced with playtime with a three year old. Go where that child is, lie down on the floor and do nothing. Go ahead, close your eyes if you want to. Take a snooze. I promise within ten seconds that three year old figure out exactly what to do with you while you lie there and wait.

Follow his lead.
What's so brilliant about the video above is that Ben (the three year old) is completely in charge of the play. He bangs on the piano and Matt matches both his intensity and his mood. Kids are constantly being asked to follow along, so nothing thrills them more than when during their playtime you as the parent reveal that you're willing to take a turn at not being in charge.

What are your secrets to playtime with your kids that doesn't leave you bored or distracted?

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