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‘I’m bored!’: tips to keep kids moving while stuck at home all holidays

This article was originally published by Deakin’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition.

With formal sporting activities cancelled and limited space and equipment at home, a Deakin University health behaviour expert has some solutions to help keep kids off screens and moving these school holidays.

Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) Research Fellow Dr Lauren Arundell said that with many parents working from home alongside kids with energy to burn, there are still many ways to stay active, curtail boredom and avoid too much screen-time.

“There’s no doubt that this will be a challenging school holidays for families, with children stuck at home and many parents trying to work. There are, however, some easy ways to entertain the kids and burn energy at the same time,” Dr Arundell said.

“Physical activity is important for our physical health, our mental wellbeing and mood, as well as our ability to focus and concentrate.

“It’s important to schedule time to move every day – perhaps at set times like 9am, midday and 3pm – or the last 10 minutes of each hour.

“Families may like to post a list of activities up on the wall or fridge, or create a ‘lucky dip’ tub of activities to choose from, so parents aren’t scrambling for ideas. At the end of the week families can vote to see which activities everyone enjoyed the most.”

Dr Arundell believes this is an opportunity for parents to create a positive and enduring relationship with physical activity and active play for children.

“This is a great time for parents and carers to demonstrate the importance and benefits of being active each day – by making time to move with our families we’re showing that no matter what the circumstances and challenges, it’s important to prioritise our health and wellbeing and maintain daily physical activity,” she said.

Items like hula-hoops, trampolines, basketball rings or bikes and scooters to ride up and down the driveway are also excellent ways to move during the day. New ways to be active are also emerging.

“Many sporting groups and gyms are streaming or recording sessions so families can watch and participate from home,” she said.

“However, parents and carers need to limit sedentary screen time for entertainment as much as possible, particularly with many schools moving to online classrooms. There is also the potential that this could be the new normal for some time after the holidays, so it’s a good idea to set healthy habits now.

“Research has found high levels of screen time can negatively impact children’s physical and psychosocial health and wellbeing, as well as their academic outcomes.”

Dr Arundell suggests the following 14 activities to keep the entire family moving at home:

  1. Family circuit – each family member comes up with movement that everyone does for one minute. Repeat five times.
  2. Limbo – use a broomstick and see how low you can go.
  3. Use train tracks or building blocks to create a trail of shapes that you need to hop/jump/skip through or over.
  4. Stretching – yoga in the lounge.
  5. Target practice – use chalk to draw a target on a sidewall or fence and throw a ball or socks for points.
  6. Down ball – draw on the driveway with chalk or use sticky/electrical tape to mark out the playing space.
  7. Tennis – tie a ball to string and hang it from a tree branch.
  8. Use floor boards/decking boards to practice balance walking, cartwheels, dance travelling (chasse, skips, jazz runs).
  9. Scavenger hunt – find 20 things, such as something blue, starting with P or triangle shaped.
  10. Treasure hunt – hide objects around the house and time how long it takes to find them.
  11. AlphaBody – try to make each letter of the alphabet with your body.
  12. Make up a dance to your favourite song or learn a new dance routine.
  13. Balloon volleyball – how many taps before it hits the floor?
  14. Hallway races or time trials – keep a leader board and see who has had the greatest improvement after the holidays.
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Dr Lauren Arundell
Dr Lauren Arundell

Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Faculty of Health, Deakin University

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