It’s getting near the end of summer, and that means there are a lot of us who are trying to pack as much family time into the remaining days as possible. Within the next couple of weeks, vacations will be ending, kids will be heading back to school and the relative lull of summer will, sadly, come to an end. So here are a few activities you can pack into your schedule before the end of the season — with the added bonus of contributing to your healthy lifestyle.
Go to the zoo
A trip to the zoo has a lot of benefits. The kids will enjoy it. For parents, it’s a great way to step away from the screen and get outdoors for a few hours. Most of us spend the majority of our days seated at our desks, looking at our screens, thinking about work. But taking a Saturday to do something you don’t usually do can be revitalizing and give you a mental break from your day-to-day routine. And the walking will give you the added benefit of increasing your physical activity. Plus, it’s educational!
Take a bike ride
For those of us who bike regularly, we tend to see it as a “workout.” While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can sometimes make it feel like just another item on your to-do list. But do you remember what it was like when you went biking as a kid? When kids ride bikes, they don’t do it for the exercise — they do it because it’s fun! Sharing in this fun and taking your kids out for a ride is a great way to get your body moving while also spending quality time with your family. Plus, it can help remind you what exercise is really about — having a good time and enjoying all that your body can do for you.
Often cooking feels like a chore and it can be difficult to find the time to prepare nutritious meals. But taking the time to cook with your kids can make it a very different experience. It’s an opportunity to talk to your children about healthy eating, and to instill in them an understanding of food preparation and health that can be beneficial to them as adults. It can also be a chance for you to mentally reconnect to your own relationship with food. For many of us, most of our meals are rushed. We cook and eat as quickly as possible because we have busy schedules and little time for meals. But taking the chance to mindfully prepare a meal can help you to remember how good it feels to truly nourish your body.
Volunteering often requires a certain amount of physical activity, and giving back is certainly good for both your body and mind. Take your kids to volunteer at a local urban farm/garden or gardening club. Depending on the age of your children, you could consider volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. You could also volunteer with an animal rescue organization or a retirement community. There are so many great possibilities.
Remember all the games you used to play as a kid — hopscotch, four-square and freeze tag? Go to a park or your backyard and take some time to play with the kids. For games like hopscotch and four-square, you can use sidewalk chalk. This is great physical activity, the kids will love it, and it will give you a chance to just be silly — which, as adults, we don’t get to do nearly often enough.
Plan a day trip
By the end of the summer, many of us have already taken our summer vacations. But there’s no reason you can’t take a weekend day and visit someplace a little outside your usual territory. If you live near a lake or a beach, it’s the perfect opportunity to pack a picnic and enjoy the water. Or head to a state park and plan a day of gentle hiking, if it’s age appropriate.
Take your kids outside and gather rocks to paint. Searching for the right ones will be good physical activity; the rocks should be smooth and large enough to get creative with. Painting them will give both you and your kids a creative outlet that’s a little out of the ordinary. Use them as paper weights or garden decorations.
You may not have multiple days to go camping in a local park, but you can still enjoy some of the best parts of camping right in your own backyard. Take a night and go outside, tell ghost stories and enjoy the stars and fresh air. If you have an outdoor grill, you can make a perfect camping-style meal. Or you can make healthy treats inside and enjoy them under the stars. If you’re feeling intrepid, you can even pitch a tent and sleep in the great outdoors.
Summer may be coming to a close, but it’s not over yet! There’s still time to build some quality memories with your family, while also benefiting your health on both a physical and mental level.
— Sarah Cooke