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The Fit Mom’s Guide to Playground Workout Hacks

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The Fit Mom’s Guide to Playground Workout Hacks

Unfortunately, the playground isn’t your playground anymore.

You’re only there to let the kids run wild in a place that’s not your living room. It’s more than just a way to burn through pent-up energy, though. Having your kids play outside can provide them with an incredible number of benefits, from increased vitamin D levels to better grades at school.[1] And, hey, it doesn’t hurt that a super-long stint at the playground might inspire a few extra-long naps later in the day.

The only problem is you might feel a little left out of the feel-good exercise that’s happening all around you. You could, of course, partake in the sliding, swinging, and dangling from monkey bars, but you might also prefer a more concentrated, grown-up workout.

We have the solution you need so that everyone can benefit from outside time — playground workouts tailored to mom. Here’s a guide to playground workout hacks for the fit mom:

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Bench Jumps

They’re called box jumps at the gym, but do you see any CrossFit boxes anywhere? That’s why these are now called “bench jumps”. Find a bench or playground step that’s a reasonable jumping distance off of the ground and jump up, landing with both feet on the platform. Step down carefully and repeat.

Slide Tricep Dips

Find the least popular slide on the playground and go to town on your triceps:

  • Put your hands on the slide, plant your feet flat on the ground in front of you, and bend your knees.
  • Slide your body forward so that your booty is off of the slide and your arms are behind you.
  • Dip down so your elbows are at a 90-degree angle, and then push yourself back up with your triceps.

Swing Squats

You’d be hard-pressed to find a toddler who doesn’t love being pushed in the swings for what can feel like forever. Make better use of your time behind the ropes by dipping down for a squat between each push you give. If your child never tires of being pushed, you’re in for a serious leg-and-butt workout.

Swing Push-Ups

Here’s a move for when your child grows out of the swing. Put your feet into the seat and your hands on the ground, arms straight so that you’re in plank position. Lower your upper body down toward the mulch and back up and voila. You’ve just done one push-up.

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Stroller Press

Not all of your workout moves will take place on the playground itself. This is one that you can perform on the way to or from the park if your kiddos travel by stroller. Find a sloped pathway to push your stroller up — with one hand. Bend your arm and focus on your chest muscles, because that’s what we’re working here. And while you’re pushing and undoubtedly talking to your child, he or she will benefit, too, because social interaction helps children learn.[2]

Monkey Bar Abs

Your core is super important to your overall physical health since it, you know, supports your spine.[3] Therefore, you should find a set of monkey bars, grab on, and hang. Then, lift your knees up to your chest and really work those muscles. When you master this move, you can lift your straightened legs all the way up so that your body is in a 90-degree angle. Then, you can move onto tapping the monkey bar with your toes.

Stair Jumping Lunges

Your local playground probably has at least one set of stairs with a safety railing — for you, this railing is a way to balance as you go into an intense set of jumping lunges.

Start with one leg on a step. This one should be bent so that your back leg is straight and you’re in a lunge position. Then, jump up, straighten your arms and, while you’re in the air, switch legs so that the back leg is now bent forward on the step. Like we said, that railing is going to give you support in a move that’s seriously intense.

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Fireman Pole-Sit

Again, beware of sliding children before settling in for this move. You’ll simply put your back against the pole for support and slide down into a seated position with legs at a 90-degree angle and hold. The longer you can hold it, the more intense of a burn you’ll feel.

Jungle Gym Plank

Find a section of the jungle gym where there’s a bar that runs parallel to the ground. Grab onto the bar with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and step your feet back until you’re in a bona fide plank position. Hold it for as long as you can and you’re sure to feel your abs engage.

Ladder Toe Taps

Grab hold of the vertical bars of your playground’s ladder and tap the highest horizontal bar you can with your toe. Then, switch legs as quickly as you can, tapping the same bar. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Elevated Bridge Jumps

The bridge from which your kiddos can survey the entire playground is now your spot to get in a bit of explosive, leg-toning cardio. Stand just next to it with your arms overhead, and then jump up as high as you can, and try and reach the top railing. Do this as many times as you can for a 30-second stretch, working your way up to a full minute of high-intensity jumps.

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Creative Cardio

The best part about taking your kids to the playground is not just watching them play but joining in — chances are, they love it when you do. So, for a bit of heart-pumping cardio, organize a game of tag or red-light, green-light, or any other playground game that gets everyone’s feet moving.[4] We promise the rest of your workout will pale in comparison to this — the part where you get to play with your loves.

These moves prove that it’s possible to build a workout outside of the gym and we have a sneaking suspicion that once you start, you’ll be able to incorporate some creative moves of your own. More importantly, you’re breaking a sweat and giving your kids the fun, carefree playground memories that they’ll cherish for the rest of their lives.

Now we call that a win-win.

Reference

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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