Brrr! The weather’s starting to get chilly (I hear it’s actually snowing in places other than Georgia… color me jealous!). The kids are spending more time inside – where does that leave fitness and movement?
Let me tell you what happens in our house if we don’t find a way to burn off that energy: bedtime somehow gets prolonged. A whirling dervish races up and down the hallway whilst screaming in a pitch heard by dogs in the next state. My son repeatedly tries to ride the puppy. Lots of crashing into walls. Frustrated family members grow impatient.
All it takes is a few minutes a day and some creativity to radically change the misdirected energy into focused fun. Here are some ideas for indoor activity:
Invisi-ball. This is a great game for imagination and it saves fragile knickknacks to boot! I start by choosing an imaginary ball – any size – and tossing it to my son. As we catch or volley throughout the game, either of us can change the ball type at any time to keep it interesting. We throw invisible beach balls, softballs, and everything in between. It’s fun to let some hit me in the head and knock me down, miss some. and catch some impossible ones!
Animal relay. This is fun if you have a long stretch of room to travel. Each turn is performed as a different animal: crab walks, frog hops, bear crawls, etc. You can either race your child or tag team the animals and take turns.
Mirror. This is a playful exercise for coordination and motor skills. Remember to keep it simple – the idea is not to stump your child but help them achieve their goals, feel successful, and of course have fun! Stand facing your child and take turns doing different movements while your partner mirrors them. The longer you play, the faster you get! This game has lots of silly potential
Runaway bug. If it doesn’t creep out your child (or as I used to say when I lived in New York: “skeeve” him) pretend a giant bug just crawled up his leg. Each body part the bug travels to is the part that gets the wiggles and the only part the child can move. The game ends with free-play movement – shaking the bug off your whole body.
Yoga ball rolls. I bought a giant yoga ball with some exercise infomercial system years ago and it is probably one of the most used items in my house to this day. For me, it’s an intense addition to my bodyweight and interval training. For my daughter, it was a giant dinosaur egg when she was younger. For my son, it’s an awesome sensory experience. There is no wrong way to roll around with this versatile piece of equipment.
Obstacle Course. Indoor obstacle courses do not have to feature running around cones and climbing walls; there are many tame ways to enjoy a friendly competition inside. Stepping over items and crawling under chairs are just two ways a course can be manageable and still fun. If you have any party streamers leftover from a past celebration, be sure to tape it across a doorway for the final destination of the course. Who doesn’t like running through a finish line and tearing the ribbon?
Dyna-Band pulls. These can be used as a tug of war exercise with your child, or draped over a doorway to do some challenging yet fun pulls. My son likes the feeling of things wrapped around his neck, so I always have to be extra present and aware when we bring out the Dyna-Bands. This is not something he can play with unsupervised.
Yoga. Yoga is great for relaxation but also offers much in the way of movement. My son never wants to do yoga with me when I ask him. Yet, every single time, I’ve sat next next to him in his room and just started some poses. I show him pictures of someone doing a yoga pose and ask him how to do it, pretending I simply don’t understand. Before I know it, he not only shows me the pose and joyfully does it with me, he asks for more! Yoga is fun, as long as you adapt it to your child’s abilities.
What kinds of energy burners are popular in your house? I don’t even want to tell you that when I was a child my best friend and I used to take sleeping bags and race down her stairs in them. Shhhh… I don’t want my kids to hear. Because THAT’S got ‘Emergency Room’ written all over it