Being active as a family is a terrific way to improve relationships, build memories that will be cherished for a lifetime, explore the world, and learn new skills. There are several factors to consider when planning for a family activity, and the composition of your family will largely guide your decisions. Give some thought to the physical abilities of your family. Do you have infants or toddlers in your family? Is there someone in your family that has mobility challenges? You must also consider any budget considerations that may impact your activity choices. However, there are sure to be budget-friendly and free options for an active life at home and in your area! Let’s discuss the top 5 action items you need to consider to get your family physically active!
- Family Conversation: Gather the family and have an open, honest conversation about what types of activities are of interest, and which ones can be done as a family. Keep in mind; this doesn’t mean that other activities can’t be done as individuals. This is intended to be a way to spend healthy, active-living time together as a family. Whatever family activity you choose, it has to appeal to all and be accessible to all. Use a poster board or sticky notes for everyone to contribute their ideas. Work through all the ideas, weigh the pros and cons of each one, and narrow it down to three or four activities that every family member can agree to try.
- Do Your Research: This can be done by parents or assigned to competent children. Do the desired activities exist in your area? How much do they cost? Are there activities that are similar and would serve as solid alternatives? Consideration of the activities location, transportation, equipment needs, costs, and other important factors can be noted and then evaluated as a family. Be realistic in your choice of activity to avoid any disappointment.
- Trial Runs and Back-Up Plans: Once you have listed the finalists, plan a date for each activity. Take the time to consider each activity’s logistics and equipment needs for all family members. Plan for success by avoiding any snags that may come up during the activity; avoiding hiccups in the project will increase your odds for success.
Give it a Go!: Now it’s time for the fun of being active as a family! Encourage everyone to give each activity an honest try, without resistance. Remember, your family is still exploring its options, so there is room for feedback. Spread the activities out over a few weeks to allow for rest and reflection. Afterward, spend time together reflecting on the fun and in looking after any aches and pains!
Assess and Adapt: Meet again as a family, and pull out that flip chart paper or sticky notes. Allow everyone an opportunity to voice their impressions of all the activities that you have tried. Everyone gets an opinion; activity as a family will be impossible to entrench into your lifestyle if there is resistance or resentment. Eliminate any activity that was not thoroughly enjoyed by the entire family and consider other options. Did any of the activities exceed someone’s ability or result in an injury? If there was an activity that everyone found enjoyable, discuss how it can become a regular part of the family’s lifestyle.
Even if a family outing is not a huge success, it is time spent together, which has meaning and value. Don’t get discouraged and keep seeking opportunities to enjoy an active lifestyle as a family.