4. Encourage exercise every day
This is a biggie! We hear about it in the news all the time, but many parents and kids struggle to exercise regularly for a myriad of reasons. The city brings its own challenges with fewer open spaces in which to exercise. However, exercising includes anything that involves standing on your feet. Kids can help with chores around the house, put music on for an impromptu dance fest and use stairs instead of elevators. Try to play active games, take family walks, and use the free parks and courts in your neighborhood. Sign up your kids to play sports through their school or local community.
As much as screens can be detrimental, there are numerous free applications that guide you through exercise routines that even kids will enjoy (see the 7-minute workout apps, amongst others.) and there are many options online or on TV too. Most of these can be done easily in a small space, so no excuses. The CDC recommends 60 minutes of exercise per day for kids. It may sound like a lot, but each spurt of exercise or walking during the day counts. Try asking your kids how they feel right when they’re exercising or have just finished. Chances are they’re feeling pretty great. If they associate feeling good with exercise, they may be more inclined to do it again. Check out the CDC website for more information:
5. Limit their screen time
While screens are an integral part of many people’s lives today, the AAP recommends only 1-2 hours of screen time for kids daily, and absolutely no screens in the bedroom. Too much screen time can lead to attention problems which may affect their performance in school, lead to problems with sleeping and increase obesity. When your kids are using screens, consider the following: Don’t allow eating in front of screens as it can lead to mindless overeating and even encourage choosing less healthy options. Educate your kids on the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Screens should not be present during homework time as they are too distracting and can even be stressful if kids feel the need to check social media repeatedly.
6. Manage their stress (and your own!)
Let’s face it, kids and adults all have stress in their lives. Friends and school issues can trigger stress in kids, as well as too little downtime. Stress can lead to overeating and negative feelings, amongst other issues. Keep open communication lines with your kids so you understand their problems. You can minimize school and social stress by helping them stay organized for school and encouraging activities where they excel. Create a checklist of homework, chores etc. that they can check off daily to track their accomplishments. Encourage them to read, take a walk, exercise, listen to music or simply talk to you to help provide some relief. Try to end every day on a positive note. Reading to younger kids or just giving a hug can go a long way. In addition, try to control your own stress levels around your kids.
7. Encourage outdoor time
With all the amazing events and sights in New York, it only takes a little effort to get outside, explore with your kids and expose them to new experiences. Getting off the bus/subway one stop earlier with your kids will give them outdoor time and exercise too. With the rise of bike paths in and around the city, cycling is another healthy option in the warmer months. Make sure they have the right clothing for outdoor activities and seek out safe places to play or meet friends. Recent studies have shown that lack of exposure to outdoor light can lead to nearsightedness, so make sure to have a good balance of outdoor time built into your activities.