Luckily for us mommies, little children naturally like to move. It is usually getting them to stop that is the problem.
How do you sustain that desire to wiggle as your children grow? I have not yet raised a child past the age of 4.75 so I can't speak from a mommy standpoint. But I did grow up in a house where both parents valued the idea of physical activity.
My mother is a Type I diabetic, and needs to stay active to keep her diabetes under control. Some would say that she overdoes it (she just broke her foot two months ago- the bone popped because she walks so much!).
My father coached football for most of my young life and loved to be outdoors. I have vivid and fond memories of riding bikes, playing handball, throwing baseballs, and bumping volleyballs with my dad. It is how we communicated.
Every night after dinner, since we had no TV, our family would go for a walk. In most families, this would be a leisurely stroll, ambling along while chatting. My parents would powerwalk through our neighborhood, fists pumping. After many years, my sisters and I got smart and starting riding our bikes. It was way easier.
My parents made us do all of our own chores. We had a sizeable house and yard, so Saturday chores would literally take all day. All day. We hated it. It was horrible. But now I see the value in what my parents taught us. We were too tired to misbehave on Saturdays, and our family got to spend the day together. On our weeks off, we would take a long bike ride with a picnic lunch.
For three-quarters of the year, my mom would often lock the door and tell us not to come inside. We had to play outside all day long. We could come inside in the winter, most days.
Anyway, we were an active family. We were tighter-knit than I thought at the time. My parents knew that a worn-out, well-fed kid was a better-behaved, better-disciplined kid. All three of us girls have "caught" a lifelong love of physical activity. As a mother today, I feel like I am swimming upstream in a culture that promotes laziness and inactivity. I have to be very intentional about making sure the children get outside play time each day. I, against every anal-retentive, type A- bone in my body, let them make forts and jump inside until their little hearts are racing and content. I finally won the battle to get a big trampoline outside, and they bounce on that thing every day. They put coats on in winter and string a garden hose up there in summer.
The dirt is good for them. The water is good for them. The sun is good for them. The Xbox? Not so good. Cartoons? A beautiful and lovely tool for a stay-at-home mommy, but not a crutch or babysitter. Well, not a crutch or babysitter most days.
I want them to want to love to move their bodies for the rest of their lives. God has been so good to our family to give us three healthy children who can move. He has given me, and Beau, good health at this point. Our bodies are made to move- to feel strong, and powerful, and fit. We are made to enjoy the whole earth, not just our beds, couches, and carpets. As keepers of the home, it is our job to nurture and protect the health of the little bodies and hearts the Lord has entrusted to us. I don't want to teach them that "exercise is necessary". I want them to know "God has gifted us with healthy bodies and we are so thankful that we can run and jump and swim!" I want them to love to move for the sake of moving. And I want our family to love to do this together.
One of Beau's favorite quotes is from Plato- "One can learn more about a man in an hour of play that in a year of conversation". Playing with our children can round out the picture of who they are and who they will be. What a gift to be able to do this!
How do you play with your family? How did your family nurture your playful side as you were growing up? Will you do things similarly with your own children?
Happy Friday, dear friends.