As a parent, we are always trying to expose our children to new things. In the past year, my daughter has participated in gymnastics, soccer, swimming, Spanish lessons, and ballet. We have tried to alter the seasons so that she is only in 1-2 activities at a time, but we sign her up for these activities to challenge her in new ways, encourage her to move her body in different ways, enrich her mind, and spark her interests.
She has loved all the activities but enjoys the change in environment when she switches from one activity to the next. Currently, she is really enjoying her return to ballet and tap, but I believe part of the reason is getting to wear ‘fancy clothes’. She embraces ‘looking the part’ with a ballerina bun, tights, a leotard, and tutu.
As a physical therapist, I evaluate a lot of patients. During my evaluation, I always ask “what are your hobbies?”, “what do you enjoy doing most?” or “what do you do for fun?”. Many patients seem stunned when I ask them this question, almost as if they never considered doing something ‘fun’ as a regular part of life.
For all the reasons that I mentioned above that we make time for our kids to do new and fun things, we should also make time for us to do new and fun things! Maybe they aren’t only fun, maybe they are also hard and scary and slightly embarrassing, but the same is true for what we ask of our children-our children just focus on the fun part!
If you are glazing over what I am writing, trying to think of what you do actually enjoy doing, ask your kids. They are honest and often expose you to truths that you may be blind to. For Mother’s Day, my daughter’s school had her fill out a survey about ‘me’ and then again for my husband on Father’s day. I was amazed at my daughter’s observations. When asked what her mom’s favorite dessert was, she said ‘baklava’. The teacher, surprised, asked me later if this was true, and I said yes, though I am not sure I was aware of it before my daughter responded that way. For my husband, my daughter answered that his favorite movie was ‘Moana’ which made me smile because that is what he enjoyed most watching with her.
When I asked my daughter what she thinks I enjoy doing most, she said “going on walks, bike riding, and reading’. This is the season of life we are in and I do enjoy doing these things regularly during the week.
I challenge you to ask your kiddos this question and if the answer is not what you want it to be, change it! If your child answers ‘watching T.V’ as your favorite thing to do, but you want it to be ‘walking’, start by incorporating walking into your daily or weekly routine. Enlist your kiddos to join you and watch the dynamics in your household shift toward your priorities!
If there is something you enjoy doing that is less active, challenge yourself to find ways to integrate more activity with it. For instance, if you love taking pictures, find a hike to a new location to photograph. If you enjoy watching television, spend part of the episode working in squats or upper body exercises.