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A Happier and Healthier 2017

It’s January, the time all good Americans regret everything they’ve eaten over the past two months (three if you want to fess up to Halloween candy) and vow to lose that extra 5…10…20…50…100…200 pounds this year. So we join the gym, sign up for Nutrisystem (is it my eyes or is Marie Osmond getting really blurry? Her face is a smudge; her body looks great, but, yeah, a smudge) and resolve to do it differently in 2017. That’s all well and good and I hope we reach our lofty goals.

kids tv timeBut what about the kids? Yes, I went there! What about the kids?

I doubt there are many 10 year olds making New Year’s Resolutions, but there are plenty of 10 year olds in the US that are wearing spandex pants. The American Heart Association reports that 1 in 3 kids in the US are obese. And even the ones who are still rocking skinny jeans spend wwwaayyy too much time sitting on their bums, ruining their eyes and thumbs and souls on their new tablets. Okay, I threw that soul thing in; but come on, people. No way it’s good for them.

What is good for them is for you to resolve to help them be healthy in 2017. And that means better food and more exercise, whether your kid is overweight or not.

Provide them with vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lots of water. Don’t put your kid on a “diet” – you will be introducing them to a lifetime of food issues. Do start acquainting them with more nutritious foods and quit giving them pop. Yeah, I’m from Indiana. That’s what we call it. I saw a three year old sucking Mountain Dew out of a 64 ounce cup the other day. The cup was taller than the kid.

Equally important to nutritious foods - take your kids outside and get some exercise! I watched an interview the other day with an author who has written a book called How to Raise a Wild Child. He said that American kids spend an average of 7 hours a day staring at screens. Seven hours of screen time a day!!! O-M-G. I find it really disheartening that we need a book to remind us to tell our kids to play; really play…get outside, get dirty, use your imagination, breathe in some fresh air, blow the seeds off a dandelion, wade in a creek kind of play.

Taking that jiggle out of your wiggle doesn’t have to happen at a gym. Grab your kids and go for a walk, ride a bike, row a boat, toss a ball, do cartwheels. Build a tree house, plant some flowers, pull some weeds. Feed the birds, go fishing, play with the dog, and make snowballs. Get out the umbrella and splash in some puddles. There is a whole world out there full of beautiful sights, smells, and textures. Kids need to know that not everything is doom and gloom and snapchat. Playing outside is good for body and soul.

This entire train of thought started running this morning while I was writing copy for the new swing sets that are going on the Family Leisure site. So let me earn my euros and point out that a swing set is a great way for your kids to get outside and get some exercise. When I was growing up, swing sets were basically tetanus-inducing rusty metal lean-tos with sharp edges. Swings were splintery boards, chains pinched your fingers, and when the sun was shining, you were guaranteed to get an arse burn from the slide. Seriously, mid-century modern was not a good look in a swing set.

Today’s swing sets have wooden frames that are designed to last until your kid is bringing his kid over to play and feature plastic and metal components that are sturdy and weatherproof, designed for outdoor use. They come with their own “tree houses,” sling swings, built-in sandboxes and rock climbing walls. There are accessories like outdoor games and chalkboards, as well as play telescopes, periscopes, telephones, and steering wheels, all designed to exercise your child’s mind as well as his or her body.

So ring out the old, ring in the new; let 2017 find the whole family happier and healthier and spending a lot more time in the great outdoors! Happy New Year from Family Leisure.

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