“No, you can’t have another snack. It’s bedtime,” I say to my son.
“Nope, I can’t play ‘baby owl’ right now,” I tell my hooting daughter. “I’m making your lunch.”
“No! You’re all done with screen time for today,” I say to both my kids, despite their desperate pleading.
As parents, we say “no” to our children a lot.
But there’s one request I try to always say yes to.
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“Mom, can we play catch?”
“Mama! Want to go for a walk?”
“Let’s play soccer, Mom!”
When my kids ask me to do something active with them, I almost always say yes. Here are six reasons why:
Often if we’re walking or biking together, my son will open up to me in ways that he might not otherwise.
1. It's bonding time.
Being active with my kids is a great way to bond with them. It changes up the dynamic, and often if we’re walking or biking together, my son will open up to me in ways that he might not otherwise. Because we’re doing something physical, he’ll often let down his guard and share things he might not otherwise tell me.
2. Time spent outdoors is good for all of us.
My own favorite childhood memories all took place outside, whether I was riding my bike, roaming backyards with my friends or building snow forts. I feel better when I’m surrounded by trees, fresh air and Vitamin D, and so do my kids.
3. It breaks up the day.
Often if we’re having a tough day together, getting outside and being active breaks up the energy. I’ve found my kids are much less likely to bicker when we’re exploring the neighborhood on our bikes or taking a walk on the beach.
4. It keeps our bodies healthy.
Exercise, whether it’s walking, running or yoga, is so good for our cardiovascular health, our flexibility and our bone density. I hope that by modeling being active, my kids will hold onto the habit of exercise as they get older. As an older mom, it also means a lot to me that I can almost keep up with my kids.
5. It's a stress reliever.
Beyond keeping my physical body healthy, exercise is one of my most important tools for relieving stress and keeping depression and anxiety at bay. Sometimes a quick game of soccer on the lawn or a bike ride can help me shake off a gloomy mood—for me or one of my kids.
6. There are many ways to be fit.
Exercise wasn’t always part of my routine. I was an uncoordinated kid who would do almost anything to escape gym class. I want to teach my kids, by example, that there are many different ways to keep their bodies healthy. I want them to know that you can stink at volleyball but be a yogi with excellent balance. You can loathe running but love martial arts. By joining in and staying active with my kids, I hope they soak up these messages.