On my morning commute today, I read an article in the paper about how poorly Canadian kids are doing at getting the daily recommended amount of exercise. It is suggested that kids need at least 40 minutes a day of physical activity. Really? 40 minutes? and only 4% of girls and 9% of boys aged 6-19 are accomplishing it! That’s kinda depressing.
I admit, my kids absolutely love the tv and video games. I’ve seen a few tears when I’ve said no to a movie. That’s the culture we live in now. Technology rules. I too, am a tv addict. The difference though, is that my whole life isn’t spent in front of the tube. In fact, we have a “no electronics” rule when we go tripping. Yes, it would be easy to allow Luke and Zach to bring along their iPods or the portable dvd player, but why did we go then? It is my opinion that if you make tripping a technology free zone from the very beginning, there will be no arguments later. I’ve found that if you’ve said yes to something even once with your kids, you’ve set a precedent that they won’t forget. It will be a struggle and a fight every time going forward. So what can they bring?
We don’t bring much in the way of toys when we go camping. They will bring an action figure and a toy car, and of course Zach brings Lambie. My advice is not to bring so many toys that you lose track. A couple of things keeps them from feeling deprived, but they value them more. And get this…they use their IMAGINATIONS to occupy their time. I know this sounds crazy, but it’s true. Trees, rocks, slugs, bugs, snakes, frogs and dirt, dirt and more dirt. These are all fabulous distractions. Let them get dirty, don’t freak out about keeping them clean and dunk them in the lake every once in a while. This is what I remember about being a kid. They hadn’t even released Walk-man’s yet when I was my boys’ age. We had a 13″ black and white tv and no cable. It can be done!
You know what else is nice? YOU get a chance to use your imagination too. On our last trip, I wove a frog catcher with some grass and a stick and Zach spent hours catching frogs. Luke and I built birch bark canoes (from fallen wood, not off of a live tree!) and grass and then guess what we put in them…storm troopers and frogs! My point is, the opportunities for exercise and exploration are all around us. We should be ashamed that our kids aren’t able to squeeze 40min of exercise into a day. You don’t have to wait for your next canoe trip to get them outside. Walk them to school, play at the park, get a wagon and pull your groceries instead of giving them a first class lift home in your trunk! They grow up so fast, and you’ll remember the time you’ve spent together, but will you remember what happened on this weeks episode of American Idol?