Keeping Your Toddler Active

Thursday, September 29, 2016

It was a few months ago when I realised that we were spending way too much time inside watching Cbeebies, and not enough time outside keeping active and getting fresh air. I'd read a worrying article which stated that on average three quarters of children spend less time outside than prisoners, and it really struck a chord with me. As parents, we are meant to set a good example to our children, but we were spending day after day at home in the living room, playing with the same toys over and over again and watching far too much television. I knew that things needed to change.

Since then I've really focused on keeping Zach active; something that is actually not very hard as he never stops moving. Whilst he is so energetic now I know that if I let us fall into bad habits while he is still so young it would be hard to change them when he is older. In fact, research by ESP Play, a leading manufacturer of children's play ground equipment, showed that currently 1 in 3 children between the ages of 2 and 10 are overweight, which is quite frankly a terrifying statistic, and something I definitely don't want for my son.

I've found that for us the key is getting out of the house. Going outside every day, even if it is just for an hour, has made a huge difference. Not only is Zach keeping active, but he is sleeping better as he is burning off all of his energy, and we have a stronger relationship thanks to all of the quality time we're spending together. There are so many different things you can do with your toddler to keep them active, so I thought I would share a few of our favourites.

Ways to keep your toddler active:

Go on an adventure

Whether you're just popping to the local park, or going somewhere further afield, getting outside and away from the house on a little adventure is a great way to keep active. Zach loves to run around so we often head to the beach or the forest for the day where we can let him loose - big open spaces are great for toddlers because it means they can explore freely as there is no need for them to be strapped into a pushchair or reins.

Getting away from everything, so that you're fully surrounded by nature, is a great detox to the bright plastic toys and annoying tv shows which seem to dominate life with a toddler. I think it is so important to teach children that they can have fun without those things, and I like to encourage Zach to use his senses; we like to collect things, like stones or conkers, listen to the animals, and look for beautiful flowers.

Play at the park

Another great way to get outside and keep active is to play at the park. Zach absolutely loves hitting up the playground; he's a super climber so he likes to brave the heights on the climbing frame before hurtling down the slide, again, and again, and again. When he's bored of that he'll want to go in the swing, which means I get a bit of a work out too while I push him, and then it's straight onto the roundabout!

Join a class

Joining classes is a great way of keeping toddlers active, especially in the colder months when it's harder to get outside. Zach has swimming lessons and Tumble Tots every week, and he absolutely loves them. It gives him a chance to burn off some of his energy at the same time as making new friends and learning a new skill. I've also noticed a huge difference in his development since he started his classes, and by taking part in activities he is picking up social cues such as when he needs to follow rules, or take turns.

Join the National Trust

I feel like joining the National Trust is one of those moments when you suddenly feel like a 'real adult', but we have really made the most of our memberships this year, and I would really recommend getting one. Locally we have a few National Trust properties, all of which have amazing grounds to explore and are an easy way to get outside and keep active on a slow Sunday afternoon. They cater so well for children too, which really makes a difference when you're heading out for the day.

Go to soft play

I absolutely hate soft play. The food is awful, the equipment is dirty and there is always a child pushing Zach out of the way BUT it is a great place to go to when the weather is awful and you want your toddler to keep active and burn off some energy. I know that we will be going a lot during the winter months, and I am sure Zach will absolutely love it.

Go swimming

As I mentioned above, Zach has a swimming lesson each week, but we also try to fit in another session just us two. We have so much fun splashing around in the pool and playing games, and it is so wonderful to see him build up his confidence in the water. It is such great exercise, a really important life skill AND something you can do during the colder months. Perfect!

Going forward I hope that the school we send Zach to in the future will hold the same values we do. Encouraging fitness is so important, and sadly, further research by ESP Play found that on average students spend 68% of their PE lesson stationary. Using this information they have gone on to design playground solutions which further testing has shown that there is a 19% increase in activity when schools use their equipment - that sound's pretty good to me! I hope that the school we send Zach too will have their equipment, as well as the right attitude towards the importance of keeping active.

How do you ensure your toddler stays active?

*This is a collaborative post with ESP Play*

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