Today, 11th October is International Day of the Girl #IDG2017. I was honoured to be asked to sit on a panel at the Bloomsbury Institute last night to discuss the challenges that girls face today and how we can help them to thrive. I was a little nervous to say the least. Bloomsbury is a grand venue where book shelves packed with works of importance line the walls. Seeing my book on sale for those attending the event was another ‘pinch me’ moment. My fellow panellists were: Emma France; Global and Strategic Development Director of mothers2mothers. Proceeds from the evening went to mothers2mothers, a non-profit with a mission to create a generation free from HIV and to create healthy families and communities in Africa. Anna Williamson; TV presenter, life coach, counsellor, NLP practitioner and best selling author of Breaking Mad – the insiders guide to conquering anxiety. Our discussion was chaired by Harriet Minter; journalist and broadcaster, founder of the Guardian’s Women In Leadership section and host of The Badass Women’s Hour on Talk Radio. I needn’t have worried. …
I quite often blog, tweet and post on instagram about what we get up to as an #activefamily and how I’m proud my children are #activekids. They do seem to love exercise, yes, sometimes I have to give them a bit of encouragement but they don’t usually take much persuading. I was curious to find out how they really felt about their own activity and exercise in general so I decided to ask them.
My last #activekids blog was all about the benefits children gain from being active. It proved very popular and set my stats on fire! I admitted that it can be hard to tempt my own children away from their screens sometimes, especially my older boys. There are however tricks I use to help me and I wanted to share some of them with you. They’ll be blissfully unaware that you have a plan! It’s always best to be one step ahead of children, isn’t that always the way with parenthood?! So, when you want to be active as a family, how do you get them to switch off, leave the land they’re building on Minecraft and put on their trainers and join you?
My kids love their ‘screens’ as much as anyone else’s. Getting them to turn off their devices and come out on a dog walk isn’t always an easy task. Once they’re out, they love it and don’t want to go back home but sometimes it does take a bit of effort, imagination and ‘motherly persuasion’. It would be much easier to just let them carry on sitting, transfixed but I know how important it is for kids to exercise. There are so many benefits and I’m not just talking about avoiding obesity.
Keeping active when you have kids can be really hard. Carving out time for yourself to get out and do some exercise is a daily challenge. I often use the hashtag #activefamily because I’ve discovered that one of the best ways to get my daily dose of activity is to make it a family affair. This is particularly the case during school holidays and there are a lot of those! With a bit of imagination you can turn any trip into a work out for every member of the family, without them even realising what you’re doing!
We can learn so much from children. When I say, “Stop, look and listen” I’m not talking about how to cross a road; I’m certain adults know more about that than children. No, I’m talking about something entirely different. Are you like me? Always so busy, rushing around, trying to cram as much into each day as you possibly can? A successful day is one when everything is ticked off on the long to-do list? Children have an entirely different agenda, they see the world through completely different eyes. Today was a good reminder to me that we all need to slow down, stop, look and listen. We’re missing so much …
How adventurous are you when it comes to family activities? On our recent holiday to Croatia we signed up for a day trip kayaking through a gorge. At the start, all kitted out in life jackets and helmets we gathered to get the brief from the skipper. He told us with glee about the waterfalls we’d kayak over and how one in particular was really BIG. I started to wonder whether the whole idea was crazy, especially with three kids and seriously considered just retreating to the safety of our lovely swimming pool.
Do your children enjoy exercise? Are they doing enough? Sometimes we have to nurture a love of exercise in our little ones. The current activity guidelines for children age 5 to 18 are that they need to do at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. This should be of moderate to vigorous intensity so needs to be something that gets their heart racing and makes them out of breath. On three days a week this should include an activity that strengthens muscles and bones. Under 5s should be active for at least 180 minutes a day but this can include lighter activities too. Have a look here for the NHS guidelines and suggestions about how to achieve this.
Kids, kids, kids! I have 3, they’re amazing. I love them to bits and would do anything for them. When they were younger they were so dependant on me. They needed help to dress, eat or wipe their bottoms! I thought as they got older they would need me less but I’m actually finding the reverse. I’m more acutely aware how my behaviour influences theirs. I feel even more responsibility to help them develop into nice young people ready to go out into the world alone. They’re spending more time away from me and I wonder whether they’re acting in the way that I’m trying to equip them to. How do they deal with conflict? Are their manners good? Are they considerate of their friends?