Does this sound familiar?
- On a Sunday afternoon, Matt took his son to the sporting goods store for a new baseball bat and cleats. The boy was a year bigger and stronger, and he was eager to see how that translated on the field.
- On Thursday, they received a message from the local Little League commissioner: Practice would still begin over the weekend, but kids were encouraged to take the proper precautions for the coronavirus (COVID-19), like washing their hands thoroughly and staying home if they felt sick.
- The next morning, a new message: Practice was on hold for two or three weeks, and games would not start until over a month later, on April 20.
- Three days later, another message: With the guidance of the national Little League board, the season would be delayed until May 11. The start of practice and games? Unknown.
From the time the first cases were diagnosed in the U.S., the situation has often completely evolved from one hour to the next. At the time of this writing, most of our kids have been shut out from their school gym classes and extracurricular activities, with no end in sight. As parents and coaches, we know this response to the pandemic is necessary and proper, but it doesn’t make it any less daunting.
Whether our kids are serious athletes or just love to get out and play with their friends, cutting physical activity out of their day for two months or longer is not an option. So, how do you keep them active but coronavirus-free in these uncertain times? Here are a few activities you can consider.
Play outside: If you have an outdoor space, encourage your kids to use it and have fun. Encourage free play. Have a catch, play a game of Wiffle Ball, hop on the swing. Given the difficulty of this situation for everyone, parents should try to be patient and perhaps a bit more flexible in what they allow kids to do—all exercise is a plus at a time of near quarantine. As difficult as it may be, resist the urge to let the kids from down the block come over to play. We’ll only “flatten the curve” if we all play by the rules and do it as a team.
Enjoy nature: Perhaps the only lucky bounce we’ve had since the outbreak started in the U.S. has been its timing. We recently celebrated the first day of spring, temperatures are inching up and the flowers are beginning to bloom. Take advantage of that and head to a quiet place no one else knows about, where social distancing is not an issue, and enjoy a hike with your kids.
Take a bike ride: There may be no better way to beat the cabin fever right now than to hop on a bike. A supervised family ride is a great way for young kids to learn their way around the neighborhood and learn about safety. Get your fresh air but keep a healthy distance from other riders.
Virtual fitness: The gyms are closed, but many fitness-centric businesses are offering live classes at discount rates. Find one that looks like fun for your kids – by taking it, you can support a struggling small business in the process. There is also no shortage or workouts and fun activities on YouTube to keep you moving. Be certain any new activity your child attempts is appropriate for their age and ability.
The home gym: Now is as good a time as ever to put the dusty Nautilus machine in the basement to use. Use this pocket of spare time as an opportunity to teach your kids the basic principles of weight training. This should be done with careful consideration for what is appropriate and safe for their particular age and ability and may require supervision.
Watch classic games: While it’s not a physical activity, there’s plenty of value in exposing kids to the legends of their favorite sports. With virtually no new contests of any kind to air, the dozens of sports channels on our cable packages have turned to broadcasting classic games and documentaries about great athletes and teams. School your kids on the aspects of these athletes’ games that set them apart. Point out the lost arts that players mastered to win games in the old days. Teach your child history before they go out and make some of their own.
Learning doesn’t just happen in classrooms: keep your kids engaged and active through play and games. When schools reopen—and they will—your kids will return to their classrooms with happy memories and healthy bodies.
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