How fit are your kids? Do you make fitness for kids an integral part of their daily lives? In today’s guest post by Ashvini Naik, a fitness blogger, she tackles the challenges faced by children and parents everywhere.

She also shares some practical tips on how to ensure that your kids develop a lifelong fascination for fitness.

This is a part of the Guest Post series on my site. Welcome to my blog, Ashvini!

“Mumma! Can I go out to play now that I’ve finished my homework? PLEASE!”

Isn’t that one of those things you’ve started missing dearly as a millennial mom? Our splashes from nostalgia, sadly, don’t resonate much with the life of our kids today. Gated colonies, apartments or independent villas are where most of us stay. And many of these are situated in a hub of classes for art & music & private tuition.

Sports outside school is very much in a ramshackle state unless you’ve got your child enrolled into a Karate or swimming class. Learning to stow your phone password away while your tiny friend isn’t looking is one of your tasks for the day. “Aah, woman! And you talk about fitness, huh?” Isn’t that what you’re already trying to scream at me?

I cringed every time the husband tried to bedazzle our daughter A with virtual versions of cricket & badminton on his mobile apps. We’ve moved past the era where we had a proper classification of indoor & outdoor games. The latter have reclined into the former over brilliant yet dumb gadgets. At times, a ready-to-eat cereal bowl with a glass of Tetrapak ‘fruit’ juice is your breakfast recourse.

And Oh, I so feel you. Preparing for the day in a jiffy ain’t easy. When a typical day begins with such morning madness & descends into an epoch full of exhaustion, “WHERE IS THE TIME FOR FITNESS?”

Did I just hear you? Oh surely! I did, my friend.

But an equally gloomy fact is that some of us learn our lessons the hard way. Just like me. My childhood quite devoid of exercise, limited play time followed by laxity with a proper diet during my teen years boomeranged real soon. Weight problems, body image issues, acne & a cartload of stress ultimately seemed like my teenage souvenir. Though not morbidly obese, I had to struggle to lose weight frequently (as & when I found my self-image biting the dust).

But just like they say motherhood comes as a wake up call to a lot of women, I finally saw the dawn I was waiting for. That happened when A was born. I saw discipline like never before & vowed to keep myself resilient to the kind of schedule I was about to endure, no matter how packed the baby made it. So, with that I decided I was going to give every possible shot at A’s fitness from the start.

I’d honestly never want to shake you up with the kind of alarming health stats, but yes, the rate of childhood obesity & diabetes is staggering. And India stands second at childhood obesity in the world. Here’s what I really want to share about why our kids need to get fit. By fit, friend, I don’t mean athletic. A kid’s fitness would largely assure better immunity & great physical & mental endurance. Come on, what else could keep us moms this happy?

6 FAB Ways to make Fitness for Kids a Priority for Life!

1. Let gadgets be gadgets, not pacifiers

Kids, naturally, are picky eaters until they get used to the caretaker’s cooking. It’s damn easy to succumb to the pressure his/her dining tantrums put you through & then pull your phone out to rescue.

I had found myself in the same ropy situation when A was an infant & she’d just twitch in her high chair every time a morsel headed over to her mouth. For a couple of days, I showed her some cartoons on my phone as if I had understood that her tantrums were only craving negotiation. It wasn’t until my brother-in-law emphasized the art of sketching gripping narratives for babies in a quiet & welcoming ambience. And it didn’t take me long to start feeding her sans a gadget with the windows & door opened. Soon very responsively, A marveled at the kind of love storytelling induced. 4 years since then, she’s still been in awe of stories & loves telling them herself.

Entice them with outdoor play activities from the beginning. They’d always cherish the outdoor world like nothing else whether it’s from a baby carrier, pram or their camaraderie with newly found buddies. It’s OK to let your WhatsApp, Instagram or FB alone for sometime. Else it wouldn’t take your munchkin really long to think that gadgets are the most important things to attend to. And trust me. You’ll never have to boggle your head about reducing your kid’s screen time.

2. Make them a part of your kitchen

The kitchen is, surprisingly, an underrated learning habitat for your child if you start early. Your children often lurk around you so that they could chivvy you into landing some snacks (often the forbidden ones! 😉 ) And what if you know you could just milk that opportunity? Subtly explain to them the perils of fast food. Involve them either practically or verbally while you cook some healthy delicacy. Do not force, yet encourage them to lend help. It’s a win-win as they passively learn the goodness of eating clean & unadulterated version of their favorite snacks.  If not a helping hand, you’d, now, at least have an awesome kid to explore new things for.

I’ve, most of the time, involved A whenever I baked her some cookies, cake or concocted some innovative variants of macaroni with homemade ingredients. It, all the more, empowers you with happenstances to tell them about healthy substitutes which help us eat better. For example, the relevant differences between baking, steaming, boiling & frying. Or even the significance of juicing real fruits than guzzling down a processed juice pack.

Never mind if you work full time round the weekdays. Try reserving the weekends for the kitchen affairs.

3. Live by example

The little one will have something meaningful to look forward to, if you refrain from the re-runs of “At your age, I’d walk to school.” He/she shall only ignore you if you try to testify something that you can no longer prove. Embrace a healthy lifestyle as much your health conditions happily let you. Take to doing physical activities together like an early morning walk/jog or Yoga.

Fortunately, today, there are several schools in India that teach YOGA as an integral part of the curriculum. If you’re lucky to have the school near you, try to walk your kiddie all the way than delegating school transport. And when it comes to food habits, nothing can prod your youngster to avoid junk food binging if he/she finds you despising it as much yourself.

Mom and Daughter in blue working out

4. Be a Sport

Playing has never been about winning or the fright of injuries. Let your precious children learn that every game is the synopsis of life. We lose, win and/or get hurt. The order & frequency matter the least as long as we hope & try.

5. Let your gifts do some talking

Another great way to kindle an ever lasting verve of fitness is to try giving more of play-related goodies to your little member. That could be as simple as a skipping rope, a badminton, cricket or rugby kit.

6. Tell them it’s not OKAY to body-shame!

Irrespective of the generation that just went by or is schooling right now, body-shaming has always been the ugliest part of school life for many children. Though most of the time our physique is largely defined by the kind of lifestyle we pull off, it’s diabolic to poke fun at or torment a peer with judgemental advice who’s not necessarily in a great shape. It’s, after all, fabulous to teach your kid to be compassionate & empathetic apart from being fit.

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So, here’s me wishing you a really fit life & happy parenting. Cheers to fitness!

About the Guest Blogger: Ashvini Naik

Ashvini is a former corporate software trainer-turned-blogger. She blogs about fitness, health and parenting. A perennial writer at heart, she decided to pin her experience with healthy living onto the board. Having put fitness on the back burner for most of her teen years & even later, it wasn’t until she became a mom that she began taking health as the biggest deal of her life.

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Featured image of kid doing fitness by Oksana via Shutterstock
Pin image active sport girls by Alex katkov  via Shutterstock