Just Go Outside and Play!

Fun Ways to Stay Active With Your Kids

Remember the old days when you used to relish the idea of a game of hide-and-seek or be the first one to initiate a vigorous round of tag? As children, our bodies were toned to endure the long running games; our limbs were accustomed to the bouncing and skipping that we used them for every day. Back then, fitness was so fun that we never knew we were keeping our bodies in shape; we were just so happy to be outside.

As adults, we soon forget our childhood games – the activities that allowed us hours of enjoyment with friends and family. We often get so busy that we forget that it is all right to play as a child plays: carefree.

“We love to play Frisbee and ride bikes around the neighborhood,” says Kelley Hunsicker of Irmo, S.C. “My husband and I are summer people and we like to just go out and play. We usually have a lot of the neighborhood in our yard playing – kids ranging in age from 6 all the way through 19 years old. Lots of activity and play goes on here.”

Hunsicker and her husband have the right idea. Children love it when a parent is involved in whatever activity they are doing. Whether it’s a race for who can swing the highest on the backyard swing set or shooting hoops in a game of basketball, parents and children will find themselves having fun and getting fit.

Red Rover, Red Rover, Let Mom Come Over!

Here are some family-oriented games to keep a parent active:

  • Play a game of catch.
  • Have a hula-hoop contest.
  • Play a game of hot-potato Frisbee.
  • Set up a badminton net in the backyard.
  • Hit the tennis courts.
  • Swim together at the local pool.
  • Initiate a game of hide-and-seek (gets the adrenalin pumping!).
  • Hop on a Pogo stick and count the bounces.
  • Try out those new Rollerblades (or dig out the old four-wheelers!).
  • Have a race with some scooters (in a safe place free from traffic).
  • Remember hopscotch? Sure to get the heart pumping!
  • Basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer or tetherball.
  • Go to the park and climb, swing, slide, teeter-totter and just RUN!.
  • Ice or road hockey.
  • Climb a tree or two.
  • Play a round of dodgeball.
  • Set up a scavenger hunt.

The best thing about all of these activities is that they will inevitably end up with someone having a great time. When you were a child, did you ever have a terrible time playing outside? Children have a way of always having their bodies in movement. As adults, we could learn a thing or two by watching how our children play – both young and old.

“It’s fun when my mom and I go outside and play basketball,” says Robyn Davis of Lawrenceville, Ga. “She gets all goofy, like a kid. It seems like she forgets for a little while all the stuff she has to do as a mom and just has fun.”

Remaining active in our adulthood has many added benefits. It creates a bond with our children when we interact with them, and it keeps us young at heart (it also keeps our heart young!).

Think Like a Kid

“I think the key to having fun as an adult like we did as kids is to think like a kid,” says Lauri Berkenkamp of Strafford, Vt., author of a series of books titled Go Parents! “Make it be all about you, even for a little while. The great thing about kids is that when they are playing hard, they are totally focused on what makes them happy and really don’t give a darn about how others feel or think or react. They are seeing how big a splash they can make off the diving board, not worrying about how fat someone might think they look in their bathing suit.”

Berkenkamp reminds us how self-conscious we can be when we “grow up.” If we just let loose children’s way when they are immersed in something, it would be a lot easier to enjoy the same kind of fun. “Find something that you remember you really enjoyed doing as a child and see how it goes,” she says. “You don’t have to revel in an afternoon of ‘Marco Polo’ in the pool if it isn’t something that is fun for you.”

A Blast From the Past

Sometimes, the old-fashioned games of our youth, those our children have never heard of before, can be the most fun for the whole family. Children love to capture moments from our past – to be a part of something we enjoyed when we were their age.

So, how about a game of “Kick the Can!” Remember that old favourite? Here is how it is played:

1.                 One player is “It” and tries to keep the can (empty soda can) inside a large chalk circle, while everyone else who is playing tries to free the can by sneaking up and kicking the can outside of the process.

2.                 The can is set in the centre of the circle by the player who is “It,” who then closes his eyes and counts to 100 while the other players go and hide. When he is finished counting, he tries to search out the others and tag them.

3.                 Whoever he tags must stop where they are and not move. If a player reaches the circle and can kick the can, he calls out, “C!” The can is then reset in the centre of the process, and the game continues from the beginning.

4.                 The second time a player kicks the can out of the circle, he yells out “A.” The first player to kick the can for the third time earns the letter “N” and yells out “CAN” to win the game.

5.                 A new “It” is named. For “It” to win, he must tag all the players before the can is kicked three times.

It’s a simple game that can be enjoyed by kids – and adults – of any age. It’s sure to bring back memories of days gone by, get your heart pumping, make you laugh out loud in sheer enjoyment and leave a lasting impression on your children, who will get the opportunity to see the child in you.

So the next time you hear the words “I’m bored,” tell the kids to “just go outside and play” and tag along for fun!

Leave a Comment