Jul 15

8 Fun (easy) Peanut Butter Snacks for Kids (try #8 at your next BBQ)

8 fun and healthy peanut butter snacks for kids.  These fun recipes are easy for parents and fun for kids and include the long time favorites like ants on a log and new, exciting ones like peanut butter hot dogs, and banana sushi.  Fun and healthy peanut butter snacks that parents can give their kids with confidence.

1. Ants on a Log

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This simple snack is perfect for the child with an active imagination.  Simple cut celery stalks into 3-4 inch sections.  Inside the stalk fill with peanut butter. On top of the peanut butter place 3-4 raisins.  You child will have fun helping create this fun peanut butter snack and enjoy pretending the raisins are little ants.

2. Peanut Butter Toast

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Easy to make and delicious.  Just toast a piece bread to perfection and then slather with peanut butter. Watch it melt gently into the bread and enjoy your child adoring this treat.

3. Peanut Butter – Banana Sandwich

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The name says it all.  Just slather some peanut butter on your favorite bread then slice up a banana and cover the bread.  Your child will love the sweet taste of the banana and the creamy texture of the peanut butter.

4. Banana/Peanut Butter Sushi

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Perfect for introducing your child to sushi.  This is simple recipe that your children will love.  Grab a whole wheat tortilla, nutella, peanut butter, and a banana.  Spread nutella and peanut butter on the tortilla, lay the uncut banana down.  Roll the tortilla up around the banana.  Then slice into rolls.  This is a delicious snack for children and adults.

5. Peanut Butter and Apple Slices

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There is something about the sweet watery taste of apples mixed with the savory sticky flavor of peanut butter that make this a favorite snack in our house.

6. Double Chocolate Peanut Butter S’mores (not so healthy)

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Okay, Okay, Okay . . . this one isn’t so  healthy, but it is delicious and your children will love making it.

7. Peanut Butter and Graham Crackers

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Simple but awesome.

8. PB&J Hotdog

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Okay. . . this is just awesome.  If your child loves hotdogs (like mine) or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches . . . this is the perfect snack for you.  Grab a hotdog bun spread some peanut butter on it, place a whole banana inside it, and top with your favorite jelly. Try this at your next BBQ or with your kids for lunch and tell me the reaction!

Did I miss a favorite peanut butter snack of your? Share it below in the comments.

Image CreditsAmancay MaahsRoss BurtonCatherine RoyHeathere WilloughbyTowerGirlEmily CarlinRachel HathawayKitchen Life of a Navy Wife

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Jul 12

12 Amazing Vacation Spots for Runners (how many have you ran?)

Planning a family vacation this summer?  Don’t let that stop you from getting a stellar family workout, hike, jog, or picture.  Here are our choices for the top 12 running trails you should visit as a family during your summer vacation!

FREE 30 Day Bleacher Workout Click Here!

1. McKenzie River Trail – Eugene, OR

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A fun place for the kids to hike with bridges winding paths and plenty of hiking, biking, and running trails.

2. Appalachian Trail – Georgia

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With 2,179 mils of trail you will have an easy time finding a great place to run here.

FREE 30 Day Bleacher Workout Click Here!

3. Kalalau Trail – Kauai, Hawaii

11 miles of picture perfect beach running.

4. Poison Spider Mesa – Moab Utah

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11 miles of picture perfect beach running.

4. Poison Spider Mesa – Moab Utah

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A beautiful 13 mile loop for the more adventurous family.

5. Tahoe Rim Trail – Incline Village, Nevada

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165 mile trail with beautiful views of Lake Tahoe.

6. Alafia River State Park – Brandon, Florida

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Creek crossings, ponds, swamps, and more!  A fun adventure for families.

7. Ice Age National Scenic Trail – LaGrange, Wisconsin

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Green pastures and rolling hills covering a total of 1,200 miles.

8. Palo Duro Canyon State Park – Canyon Texas

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120 miles long and 800 feet deep, this is the second largest canyon next in the US to the Grand Canyon. A fun and challenging place to run.

9. Shut – In Trail – Asheville North Carolina

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18 mile trail with a challenging 3000 foot climb.

10. John Muir Wilderness – Bishop California

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212 mile trail with inspiring views of mountains, trees, valleys, lakes, and rivers.

11. Central Park – New York, New York

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With miles of trails a great place to enjoy city and fitness.

FREE 30 Day Bleacher Workout Click Here!

12. Golden Gate Park – San Francisco, CA

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With so much to see and do this makes the perfect destination for families.

Do you have a favorite running destination we didn’t include?  Share it below!

Image Credits: apsbikerNicholas A. TonelliBrianRob HyndmanJeff MoserLuke LienauElliott Blackburnk.steudelmlhradioAnh DinhJim Trodel

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Jul 01

Mastering the Family Walk (5 tips for amazing family walks)

Having children has been the excuse of many parents for weight gain in later years. In fact it has been found that women and men statistically start gaining weight at 38 and 44 respectively,  this of course coincides perfectly with the time that many parents start having multiple children.

Parents are also facing increased pressure to have fit kids, with this generation of kids being the first in history that is NOT expected to outlive their parents.  Yep, you heard that right . . . if you have children today there is a chance that they will not outlive you . . . due to . . . DRUM ROLL . . . obesity.  Below is a quote from a USDA Congressional Testimony in 2004:

In the past 20 years, the percentage of children who are overweight has doubled and the percentage of adolescents who are overweight has more than tripled. If we do not stem this tide, many children in this generation of children will not outlive their parents.  USDA

Its true kids are fatter, parents are fatter, and children may not even outlive their parents!  Fitness and health are FAMILY MATTERS it is not enough to assume that kids will make healthy choices on their own, and it is no longer acceptable for one member of the family to start a diet and exercise routine alone . . .FITNESS and HEALTH MUST BE FAMILY MATTERS.

Mastering the Family Walk

Walking a an activity that the entire family can do together.

  • An easy paced walk of 45 minutes can burn 202 calories.
  • Adults and children can both enjoy a walk.
  • It can help kids enjoy the outdoors.

Unfortunately as parents we get busy, we come home from work exhausted and tired and the last thing most of us WANT to do is head back outside with our kids who are crying or tired. In Texas it is usually over 95 degrees in the evenings during the summer and I generally have little motivation to get outside for a walk.

However, walking as a family provides a number of benefits that are hard to ignore. Zen Family Habits lists the following 5 benefits that walking as a family provides:

  1. Great exercise
  2. Nature is the best medicine
  3. Reconnect with spouse and kids
  4. Replace bad habits
  5. Engage your community/nature

With the obvious benefits it is clear that getting out with the family is a great way to exercise and spend a little time with the spouse and kids.

5 TIPS FOR MASTERING THE FAMILY WALK

  1. Be patient: realize that many children can be stuck in old habits. If you do not have a habit of walking as a family then expect for the kids to throw a fit in the beginning. Don’t give in to their resistance just continue with a “family walk routine” . . . soon enough your kids will begin to understand that this is the new norm and they will begin to look forward to your family walks.
  2. Provide a healthy snack: setting aside a special treat for walk times is a great way to get the kids out the door. Now you should make it a fun and healthy snack. For our kids we give them fruit snacks or fruit leather. This works to create a positive experience for them as we walk and it also allows them to have something to occupy their hands as we walk.
  3. Have a destination: set your walks aside as times that coincide with trips to places the grocery store, a friends house, church, the movie store, etc . . . this way your kids have a destination in mind and a goal set aside for the walk. We live about a mile a Neighborhood Walmart so we usually set this as our destination and we walk there to buy milk or fruit.
  4. Make it easy on yourself: having the right gear can make all the difference. This means using a stroller that fits your family needs, is easy to push, or having the right bikes for your kids. Taz uses a balance bike which, of course, we refer to as his BIG BOY bike. This generally gets him excited to get outside and show off how big he is. We also give Taz the garage door opener and tell him it is his “job” to open and close the garage door.  This gives him a purpose and a job on the walk.
  5. Make your kids a part of the process: If your kids are ANYTHING like mine than they have a mind of their own and love to think for them selves (a good thing later in life I’m sure). To help with this “gift” we try to include Taz in as much of the decision making process involved in going on walks as we can. We stop at a park on the way home, we let him bring a special toy, we bought him a special water bottle that he can spray on himself to cool himself off with when it is warm. Each of these things helps to allow him to feel like a part of the family decision making process and helps the walk go smoothly.

Starting any sort of new routine is hard. Getting kids out of the house and in the stroller or on the bikes can be especially hard if it is new for them. Don’t fret, don’t quit, just make the process fun and enjoyable for them and let them be a part of the fun. Bring music, bring snacks, bring toys, make being outside with the family an enjoyable process.

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Jun 26

READER SUBMISSION: Fit Mama (mother of 2, date night workouts & family runs)

reader-submission-Jennifer-300x187Before I give the floor to Jennifer let me just say that her story is truly inspiring!  We met Jennifer and her husband a few years ago while living in Houston.  They had just had their first baby (we were still baby-less) but they were always inviting us out to do fun and active dates.  They are an awesome and active couple and continue that now with two kids.

Jennifer just ran a half marathon in 1:45 and get this . . . she had never run more than a mile just 1 year ago!

Would you like to share your story to inspire other?  Just contact us here: contact @ simplefamilyfitness.com

Okay take it away Jennifer:

Briefly introduce yourself? Name, age, athletic or workout history (have you always enjoyed working out)

I’m Jennifer. I am 27 today! (Happy BDay Jen!) I have typically been active my whole life. I never played any serious sports, but I did participate in Dance Company, Ballroom, and Cheer in High School. In college I focused on Cheer for a while and then mainly on competitive ballroom with my now husband, Christopher. I have always enjoyed working out or at least feeling semi- in shape but I’ve never been a crazy fanatic or motivated enough to wake up at 5 am. I also never ran more than 1 mile before April of 2013.

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

I have 2 kids, a girl (age 3) and a boy (age 2)

 

What is your latest athletic achievement or latest race etc .  .  . ?  What is your next goal or race that you would like to complete?

My latest race was the American Fork Canyon Half Marathon in Utah. I ran it in 1:45 which beat my goal of making it in under 2 hours. My next goal/race is the Spudman Triathlon in Burley ID in July.

 

Do you run or workout with your kids? If so, how do you keep them entertained while you workout? If not, what do you do with them during your workouts?

 

I definitely work out with my kids! In the winter, they are climbing on top of me while I do pushups and crawling under ‘the bridge’ while I’m in downward dog.  In the winter I work- out indoors a lot. I bike on my stationary bike during naps and pass the time with some guilty pleasure Netflix shows. I also love P90X and Insanity.

Once summer hits though, I move outside. I pull my kids in a bike trailer, or push them for a run. If I need to do a workout without them I get up early and do it before my Husband has to leave, or we get a babysitter and do a workout together and call it a date.

I often run to a park/splash pad, let the kids play for a while and then run home after. It makes it easier to do a longer run pushing 2 heavy kids in a stroller, and they enjoy it more too.

 

Does your spouse workout with you as well?  If so how do you plan workouts that you can do together?

He does. Maybe not as much as I do right now but he’s getting there. We try to work out together. We aren’t so much at the same pace in most physical activities but we make it work. We like to have date night workout sessions! Or morning family runs.

 Do you generally workout alone or do you have a group of other families or parents that workout with you?

I try to find friends to work out with. I’ve found a few to run with and different friends to bike with.. still trying to find a swimming buddy.  Working out is always better with friends! If not though, I just turn on some good tunes or my favorite is listening to podcasts.

Do you have a cute or inspiring story of your children noticing you working out or trying to emulate you working out?

 

Yes! My oldest, will periodically put on her work out clothes and insist she needs to ‘go for a run’ She loves to do yoga poses with me, or as displayed below, ‘turn on the work out video mom, I’m ready to work out.’

Both of them love to copy whatever I’m doing. Namely pushups. They try really hard to figure those out!

What has been the biggest challenge to getting or staying in shape with kids and a family?

I suffer from Hyperemisis Gravidarum (HG) during pregnancy. Its a pregnancy condition in which. if not for medical help and interventions ( home IV”s, Zofran Pumps, PICC lines etc) I would die. It sounds dramatic, but I’m serious. It’s horrible and I am basically on deaths door for 9 months. Then after a very long recovery and all while trying to nurse (which I typically do for at least a year), I don’t typically get back into the swing of things until about 10 months post partum. But after a year and a half of being basically inactive, it is like starting all over again. Its hard and takes time and a lot of motivation.

 

What tips do you have for other parents just starting out trying to workout with a family?

 

Keep at it! Like I said, I never ran more than 1 mile before I had both of my kids. It was SO hard to start running, especially when pushing them. They aren’t light! Every time it gets a little easier, and even a short 2 mile run with your kids is GREAT! Invest in a gym if you don’t want to have your kids around, and drop them off at the daycare! Or invest in good equipment, a jogging stoller/bike trailer etc and go exploring together!

Either way, just keep active. You might feel tired at first, but eventually you will feel energized and your body will crave it!

 

Lastly, do you have a favorite recipe, nutrition, or workout tip that you would like to share with others?

 

Most recently I read ‘It Starts With Food’ and I liked a lot of the points in it. My main efforts have been to increase my vegetable intake. I have always had a hard time with veggies and I really want to instill a love for them in my kids! Eat veggies for breakfast! It might feel weird at first but you will feel more energy and it will help in pointing your day toward better dietary choices.

Wanna give Jennifer some kudos?  Share your thoughts below!

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Jun 19

Playgrounds turned Ghost Towns (Why Don’t Kids Play Outside Anymore)

My workout today consisted of an 800m swim in my community pool and a short 8 mile bike ride around town.  Nothing too fancy, but during the entire time that I was out I could count the total number of kids that I saw outside playing on one hand.

In a recent study published by The Telegraph in April 2014 they found the following depressing information:

  • 1/4 of children spend less than 30 minutes playing outside PER WEEK
  • 80 per cent of parents admitted they have never taken their children star gazing or fishing
  • 60 per cent said there is now more for them to do indoors

Read the entire article HERE.

400 Acres of Parks and No Children

I live in a beautiful town in North Texas that maintains a total of 400 acres worth of parks including trails, nature preserves, pools, splash pads, and playgrounds. This number doesn’t even include the neighborhood parks and pools contained within the majority of the HOA communities within the city.

We live in a community of about 500 homes with an elementary school and playground and a community pool perfect for swimming.  We generally head over to the pool somewhere between 7:30 – 9:30am.

Here’s the kicker . . . we have only ever seen 1 other person in the pool with us.

During my 8 miles ride today I went through the largest park in town, past my neighborhood pool, through a green belt, and through 2 other neighborhood parks.  During this ride the number of children that I saw could literally be counted on one hand.  I did see several elderly couples walking or feeding the ducks.

So, Where are All the Children

Retro photo of Far west town

It is summer in Texas which means all the children are out of school but it also means temperatures are warm.  In North Texas the summer temperatures in June reach about 95 degrees in the early afternoon.  In the morning time the weather is only in the upper 70’s.  Getting out in the morning is the best time in this area to avoid the heat . . . so weather is a poor excuse for not being outside in the mornings.

There are approximately 30,000 children under the age of 18 in our town.  Where are they? They have parks, they have money, they have time, they have the weather . . . but they aren’t going outside.

“The inactivity—particularly of outside, large-muscle, physical activities—is being replaced by other things.  It’s not like kids who are inactive are sleeping all the time. But it’s a lot more sedentary activity, like watching TV or playing [on a] computer. That is a double whammy because not only are they not getting the large muscle activity that they used to get when they were outside playing all the time, they’re doing something else, and that’s a cultural thing, not just a physical thing.”

-William Kull, president of the Red Apple Foundation

This 2008 study found that not only were children spending less time outside but that there was also a change in culture occurring in our society inciting them to spend less time outside and more time on indoor activities.

Nature Deficit Disorder

Author Richard Luv has dedicated his career to the study of “research confirming that direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults”. You can find his book:“Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder” HERE.

“Within the space of a few decades, the way children understand and experience nature has changed radically. The polarity of the relationship has reversed. Today, kids are aware of the global threats to the environment—but their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading. That’s exactly the opposite of how it was when I was a child.”

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So how do we get our kids back outside and prevent them falling victim to “Nature Deficit Disorder”? Three simple actions will make the difference and start the role getting our kids back outside and fill our parks once again.

  1. Example
  2. Mandates Unnecessary 
  3. Fun is Key

These suggestions come from a 2009 study published by Heartland.org where they studied the responses of 60,000 children ages to 6 – 17 regarding physical activity.  You can view the article here (this is where the quotes below come from).

Example

Parents can set an example for their children.  The researchers did not notice a decline in adult activity and thus suggest that parents should bring their kids along with them when they are outside:

“By instilling a love for outdoor recreation in youth, parents and role models not only help their children immediately but also set a long-term precedent for a healthy life.  The decrease in outdoor activity has accompanied an increase in obesity, ADHD, and depression. Outdoor recreation has been shown to improve achievements both in education and in health.”

 

Mandates Unnecessary

The researchers argue that government mandates will not work in improving or increasing outdoor activity.  While awareness campaigns can aid in increasing public knowledge of obesity and other associated outcomes of a sedentary lifestyle making a rule and expecting children to just fall in love with physical activity will not work.

“They think they’ll just make a rule and people will fall in line. That’s not the way it works. You have to motivate people, and that’s a tougher challenge.”

 

 Make it Fun

Introducing children to outdoor activities in a way that makes it fun will aid them in desiring to continue to go outside.  This is not the job of schools and should be done at home.  If schools mandate situps and jumping jacks (which aren’t fun for kids) than kids may stop wanting to be outside.  Instead try some of these fun outdoor games for kids or these pool games to help kids love playing in the pool.

Try simply taking your child on a nature walk, play rescue games or princess games with your kids.  Go outside and look at the stars.  Its not a science . . . its just being outside that counts.

“Kids are outside because it is fun, not necessarily because it’s good for them. The fun habituates them to a healthier long-term lifestyle.”

 

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Motivating Your Friends to Take Their Kids Outside

As a reader of SimpleFamilyFitness you already know how important it is to be outside with you kids you are already a fit mama or daddy.  The important this is to just relax and have fun.  Don’t use your children as an excuse for not being outside  . . . instead use them as a catalyst for being outside more.  Not only will it keep your house cleaner but it will prevent obesity, wear them out, and build a new generation of children who love the outdoors.

Do you have friends who don’t take their kids outside?  Try these tips to get them outside:

  • Join or start a Facebook group for moms and dads that posts activities for kids
  • Post your activities on the SimpleFamilyFitness Facebook page to motivate others
  • Google search “activities for kids in  . . . ” with your city name
  • Invite them to your community park for a picnic
  • Take them to the Zoo
  • Find a splash park and invite them to play

Generally speaking people want to be active and enjoy being outside.  Inspiring others by simple invitations can be enough to get them moving and outside.

Do you have tips to get your friends or tips for keeping you kids moving?  Share them below.

Image Credits: Matt WierPostdlf

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Jun 11

10 Running Games for Kids to Get Them Off The Couch and in the Yard

It seems that children, by nature, tend to love being outside and playing.  However, as they are introduced to video games, tv, music, naps, ipods, etc . . . they tend to set being active and outside to the side and start to embrace a less active lifestyle.  Helping children to again love being outside and running can be pretty easy and in general is simply a matter of the parents actually taking the kids outside. We have discussed the role of parents in creating healthy habits in children here. Below is a list of 10 running games for kids that parents can use to help their children love the outdoors and begin to embrace running.

For a fun read regarding the importance of helping kids embrace nature and outside play check out this book: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Defect Disorder, By Richard Louv it is an insightful and informative read on the topic and will help to encourage parents to implement outdoor and running games for kids.  Read it for free HERE on Google Booksor BUY here on Amazon.

10 Fun Running Games for Kids – From Couch to Yard

  1. Red Rover – this simple “old school” game can be played with children of all ages but you will need at least 6 children or so to actually make the game work. To play set up two lines of kids standing parallel to each other, clasping hands.  One line says “Red Rover Red Rover Send _______ on Over”.  The childs name that is called leaves their line and runs full speed at the other line and tries to break the chain of clasped hands in the other line.  If the child does not break the chain, they become part of that line.  If they do break the chain, they go back to their line and select a player from the other line to join their team. This is a fantastic game for all ages.  Taz played at 2 years old with his older cousins and had a fantastic time. Though the kids are not running the entire time they are outside and do have to run intermittently.
  2. Tag – Everyone loves tag.  Kids seem to be able to play tag without ever stopping.  To play simply choose one child to be “IT” they run around and try to tag the other children.  When a child is tagged, they become “IT”
    1. Freeze tag – this is a variation of tag where those who are tagged must freeze and are not able to move until another child unfreezes them by tagging them or going under their legs. The “IT” child wins if they are able to freeze all the children.
    2. Shadow tag – Shadow tag is really the same as tag except that instead of tagging the person the “IT” individual tags the childs shadow.  Tag is a great running game as it is really an endless game that requires a lot of running for the child and can really wear out an active child.
  3. Capture the Flag – a great organized way for kids to play this game involves two teams with separate sides and forts.  Each team has a flag (this can be a shoe, shirt, or anything small).  Teams try to get the flag from the other side without being tagged.  For more detailed rules click here. Children do have to run a lot in this game so it is good to help kids begin to enjoy playing outside.
  4. Relay Games – this is where parents can really use their creativity.  Find a large field, bring some toys and create games for kids that require running. Wheel barrow races, water balloon toss, obstacle course, etc . . . really parents can use their imagination all you really need to do is set very loose ground rules that include running or jogging, and allow the kids to use their imaginations to run and burn energy.  This is a good way to introduce children to running without them even knowing it.

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    Taz Playing Baseball

  5. Soccer – the important thing about playing soccer with kids is that at first you don’t stick to closely to the rules.  Just bring a cheap soccer ball (or any ball) for that matter and let them practice kicking.  They will learn how to run and develop coordination all at the same time. We were shocked the first time we actually gave Taz a soccer ball and let him go loose at the park.  He took off! It was as if he always knew how to play. You can pick up a ball for a couple buck at Walmart or Academy Sports.
  6. Red Light – Green Light – a great game for younger children.  It works best if an adult is able to play and kindof lead the game.  The person who is it stand with their back to the other kids.  They turn their back to the kids and say Green Light allowing the kids to take steps toward the IT person.  The IT person turns around at any time and says RED LIGHT.  The kids must stop moving. If the it person notices movement the child must go back to the starting line. A child wins if they make it all the way to the IT person.  This does not involve an enormous amount of movement but will help kids develop an interest in movement games.
  7. Kick the Can– Kick the can is an amazing game for kids and adults alike.  It is best played with older kids and at night.  Rather than try to exlpain this fun game I will refer you to this website here to read the rules. This game involves a lot of movement and running and kids will really enjoy it . . . I still do!
  8. Races – I realize this is pretty generic but kids love to race.  They love to win and they can all be taught how to lose graciously. You can get creative as a parent and build fun racing courses or just race specific distances.  You only need 1 child for this and can have them race the clock or you can have a lot of kids play.  If you buy a cheap set of cones you can set up little racing courses and require the kids to bear crawl, army crawl, run backwards, etc . . . at each cone and time them one at a time.  I have always been amazed at how easy it is to get kids running when you make it a race.DSC_0338-e1402492147690
  9. Duck Duck Goose –  this running game really needs no introduction.  I will say that if you are playing with younger kids (under 4) I have found that it is important for parents to just let go of the rules and let the kids have fun running and playing together.
  10. Sardines – sardines is like reverse hide and go seek that is way I included it on this list.  Rather than just one person hunting for everyone – everyone hunts for one person so there is much more running by everyone.  Younger children can play this game but I have not tried playing with anyone under about 5 years old.
  11. Go to a Track, Baseball, or Soccer Fieldokay I guess you get a bonus game – we have talked in other posts about how important it is that parents bring their kids with them when they go running.  This may sound oversimplified but I have experienced it time and time again with my own kids, nieces and nephews, and friends kids that to get kids out and running all you really need to do is provide them with the space.  They will develop their own games they will use their imagination and they will run and play.  Just find a park with a nice field and let the kids go wild.

If these games are incorporated into a childs life at a young age they will become habit and kids will begin to seek outside time to be able to play.  However, if you are just starting out or trying to help a couch potato child learn to love the outdoors . . . just be patient.  Don’t give up after just trying one game.  Start with one game and move on if your child doesn’t enjoy it.  Just get them outside and be patient as they learn to run and play.  It is just like teaching them to like new foods.  Provide the opportunity and let them develop their preferences.

What Running Games do You Play With Your Kids?

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of every running game out there for kids. But this is a nice range of games for various groups and ages.  The important thing is to get outside and try these games today.   If the weather is bad you can play some of these games indoors too.  Remember, the important this is to spark the interest in fitness and activity.

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May 20

Every Kid IS Different BUT They ALL Like Vegetables (6 things parents screw up when their kids are born)

As children our taste buds are more sensitive, and so many foods are new in flavor and texture for little ones.

They have every reason to be hesitant around new foods while they are learning and growing. However, this is not an excuse to give up on a seemingly picky eater. Children do need time to accept new foods, but by 2 or 3 years old if you are introducing a variety of good foods repeatedly and choosing good foods yourself they will like a good variety of foods.

They may not like everything, but they will like a lot more than you might have thought. If your children won’t eat ANY vegetables there is a good chance there were things you should have done differently when they were growing up. . . . and you can start doing some of these things now to reverse their tastes.

Taz first impression of vegetables was not favorable. Now, 3 years later he loves them!

Taz first impression of vegetables was not favorable. Now, 3 years later he loves them!

  1. Introduce vegetables before you introduce fruit. When you are first introducing solids to a 4 to 6 month old start with vegetables first. Let them try all the vegetables before you start adding fruit to the diet. If they only take a couple bites then start spitting it out, don’t force it. Try some more vegetables, and continue to re-introduce the one they didn’t like. There is no reason to worry about quantity of food or to rush this process. You will still be either nursing or giving formula at this time so they will be getting all the nutrients they need.
  2. Offer baby foods multiple times. If there are certain vegetables that they aren’t as interested in as infants continue to offer the vegetable over and over. Don’t ever give up and black ball a food. Just because they don’t like a food initially doesn’t mean they won’t with time. Mix with fruit or rice cereal and continue to introduce. Do not force, but continue to introduce each week.
  3. Offer whole vegetable multiple times. If your baby didn’t like sweet potatoes from a jar no matter how many times you tried, still try a sweet potato when baby graduates to whole foods. Just as you offered baby food over and over, the same process needs to be followed when introducing the actual vegetable. Textures will be completely new, and they may love pureed peas but hate the actual pea because the texture is new.
  4. Offer at least 10 times, in the same way! A food needs to be introduced upwards of 10 times before you give up. It is very important that it is offered the same way each time, and not mixed in a casserole or other form etc. New foods take time to get used to and kids are learning about the entire food world all at once. You do not need to force a child to try the food item every time, but have it at the table and put some on your child’s plate.
  5.  Model behavior. If you won’t eat it they won’t either. It is very important that you are offering fruits and vegetables with every meal. They need to see you eating the foods on the table. If you never eat them they will pick up on your food aversions. If you don’t eat vegetables then the first place to start is with yourself. Allow yourself to try some vegetables you haven’t tried in years. Try the food several times, and try preparing a different way then you had it as a child.
  6. Don’t tell your children they must finish everything on their plate. You can ask them to try everything at least once, but food shouldn’t be forced. Parents should choose the WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE of meal times and food. Children should choose HOW MUCH and IF. Follow this rule and your children will have a great nutrition start. Young children naturally eat the number of calories they need each day. As they grow and are distracted with TV and forced to finish everything on their plate they quickly learn to ignore internal cues for satiety (the full feeling). Once we get good at ignoring the full feeling, it is so easy to overeat.

Children are so impressionable when they are young, and they roll we play in the first few years has lasting impacts. Help your children start with a strong nutritional foundation. Helping them like a variety of foods will make easy for them to eat a diet full of all the vitamins and minerals they need. It is never too late to start. If your children are older, focus on the last three suggestions to help them expand their food preferences. And most importantly, if you are a picky eater… start with yourself!

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