I recently attended a talk at the Sport Science Institute of SA, a place that our kids totally loved visiting. The talk was part of their new initiative, The Kidz on the Move Programme, a programme to get the kids of Cape Town moving. They have begun a series of talks for interested parents, who want to get their kids moving and keep them moving…
Se7en+1 Concerns About Getting Our Kids Moving
How Much Exercise Do Your Children Really Need? The benchmark for young children, under six is three hours a day of movement ranging from light through moderate and including vigorous movement and for kids older than six, at least an hour a day. Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean “school sport,” it can be any exercise, simply playing outside.
Active Children Mean Active Teens: Without a doubt, I think we all want active teens. I do believe that kids that get used to moving and grow up within an active lifestyle, will continue that lifestyle, especially if that exercise serves a purpose. I know a long walk a couple of times a week does wonders for clearing my own head and making me feel better about the world, and I am convinced that it does the same good for our teens.
Physical health is linked to Cognitive Health: The child that is physically fit does better in school, the more exercise they do the easier it is for them to self-regulate and so perform better in a learning environment. The counter example of this is that the overweight child exercises less and has less cognitive ability, feels down and so exercises less and so the cycle continues.
Punishment and Sport Can Never Belong Together: This was so beyond my realm of comprehension that I am glad they explained it, frankly it goes against everything about exercise that you would want to install in a child. A child can be punished using sport as the tool, by depriving them of sport practice, which is essentially the exercise that they need to be the best they can be, or pushing them to endure too much and they lose their love of the sport. Just as I would never use reading as a punishment, it would never occur to me to tell a child that they couldn’t exercise… but clearly it needed to be said.
Slide credited to the speaker: Dr Cathy Draper.
Sedentary Behaviour Throughout the Day Loses the Benefits of the Exercise: And we all know that sedentary behaviour actually means screen time. They recommend a maximum of two hours of recreational screen time a day. Naturally if your child is spending large parts of it’s learning time on a screen, you may well have to adjust that number down. Basically if your child is doing their hour a day of exercise and spending the other 23 hours a day on a screen then your child will lose all the benefits of that hour of exercise.
Screen Time is a Habit Learned Young: Excessive screen time is associated with unhealthy eating, inactivity, low self esteem, bullying, lack of sleep, less cognitive activity, psychological distress and difficulty connecting with peers, increased aggression and … well after hearing that… why would anyone let their children near a screen ever!!!
Kids Are Not Getting Enough Sleep: And the biggest thief of sleep is of course, screen time. The blue light associated with our screen time deprives us of good quality sleep. Numerous studies have shown that late night screen time wether it is interactive or passive screen time, leads to disrupted sleep.
Kids Need Better Role Models: Active parents tend to have active kids, simply because it is a lifestyle of exercise. When excercise is fun, kids enjoy it and they naturally keep at it. It is up to parents to be responsible examples with their screen time habits and the earlier they begin their children with good habits the better.
The Talk Was Followed by a Panel Discussion
The panel discussion was really an open forum for parents to ask professionals from the Sport Science Institute general questions about their children and exercise.
They spoke about how nutrition plays a key role in a child’s overall health and study after study has shown that family rules work. If a family commits to healthier eating habits over all then the children will follow the example off their role models. Resist the lure of screen time and get active instead.
One of the first questions tackled was what about too much exercise: Competitive sport is so intense that children at younger and younger ages are experiencing burnout, watch your kids for signs of burnout, watch for fatigue, withdrawal… and injury. Do everything you can to keep it fun, and especially for the child that hates exercise, get creative and find their happy exercising space.
Early specialisation does not mean that a child will succeed in a particular sport, they need wider activity for a broader range of skill and activities. If your child wants to do a heap of activities and if they love it, then go for it.
Another trend, concerning parents is that high schoolers are encouraged to drop sport in order to study more, particularly children in their last year of school. But numerous studies show that reducing exercise, reduces cognitive ability and so reduces rather than improves grades.
The Key message was: Start exercising early and as much as possible, be good role models for your kids, reinforce good behaviour and get kids outside… we are all far too quick to trade convenience for health. The best way to make sure that your kids are moving is to get them outdoors… and that is a whole ‘nother blog post.
I have to say this kind of talk would be very useful for parents whose kids are in a school environment and involved in competitive sport, they had a very balanced well rounded approach to kids and sport, with the kids’ interests being the priority. The talk was very much geared towards children who are in a school environment, where activities are created throughout a child’s day to keep them busy, and to provide a balance of things to do. As a homeschooling mom, I find I don’t provide activities so much as opportunities, it is a slightly different angle… but I think it is relevant. My kids have participated in organised sport, they aren’t olympic athletes and found that when they got to certain age the fun definitely stopped and competitiveness became more important than participation. For a while our kids attended the local gym and loved it, but when the coaches started painting their nails while the kids watched movies we knew it was time to get out and look for exercise in our everyday life. I personally hope that by providing my kids heaps of opportunities to have an active lifestyle, that when they are adults they will continue to walk to the store, walk to the library, go for a hike on weekends and so on. Hopefully a lifestyle of exercise will be so ingrained in them that when they don’t have a daily walk they will feel as if something is missing from their day and they can recognise what it is and adjust their routines to include it.
This is not a sponsored post, I was invited to the talk so that I could introduce our readers to The Kidz on the Move programme. SSISA hopes to offer more talks for parents in the future, so if you would like to be kept up to date, please email firstname.lastname@example.org They offer a regular Kidz on the Move programme during the week, and will be offering a holiday programme from 3-6 October. More details at: https://www.ssisa.com/project/kidz-on-the-move/
Another week and another hike through the Cape Point countryside. It is spring in our part of the world and the fields of flowers are magnificent… we really wanted to take a closer look. We weren’t the only ones out enjoying the warmer weather and we managed to spot dozens of animals that we don’t normally see when we are hiking around…
We had done parts of this hike before but not all of it and it turned out to be a really pleasant walk all the way… crisp cool weather helped, and after the initial fifteen to twenty minute uphill it is pretty much flat and easy walking. We went up above Olifantsbos… the path splits inland towards Sirkelsvlei or seaward towards the old submarine lookout, we headed towards the Submarine Lookout, along the top of the rocky slopes and overlooking the Atlantic ocean… it is about an hours walk until the path turns downwards and you can join The Shipwreck Trail and head back along the beach towards Olifantsbos.
Always take your time to look out for wildlife. They are well aware of you… but it is quite easy for us to walk right by them, blissfully unaware. We were totally surprised by wildlife, it was an exceptional day out for us… and as much as we saw… so we were being watched.
There is nothing easy about beach hikes, nothing at all… if you have to hike on a beach with kids then choose a wind free day. Children are short and get the brunt of the sand blowing in their faces. Even if it is wind free, beach hiking is difficult… either you are rock hopping which requires careful attention all the way or you are wading through sand… if you are wading through sand then a top tip is to find the paths the animals take and follow their footprints… they are good at finding the slightly harder ground and following in their tracks always proves to be the easier route as well as fun, especially for little legs.
Otherwise take the time to stop and look at the sights to see and if you have a good map then you will know exactly what you are looking at and you may be able to find out a couple of details to expand the story of it all and to explain what you are looking at.
Take a rest…
Have a play…
Before heading home…
The Fabulous Flowers
It is the season for fields of flowers and you don’t have to go too far to find them… there is something quite magical about endless fields of flowers, that becomes fascinating when you get up really close to them… not only is each flower quite unique but they are all microworlds, their own little miniature habitats… filled with bugs and creepy crawlies. There is a lot more to fields of flowers than meets the eye, so we set out to explore them.
The Wonderful Wildlife
And every family has one… that dares to be a little different…
So today was Heritage Day in South Africa, a significant day in the South African Calendar and synonymous with Braai Day. I thought I would post our recipe for Stokbrood, or stick bread… is there anything better than cooking in the great outdoors.
I have been making bread on a stick my entire life and it something that my kids really love doing… and it is the easiest thing in the world to do, while cooking over a fire. We begin with our basic bread recipe…
Basic Bread Dough
Place a kilogram of flour in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the flour and put a Table spoon of sugar and a packet of yeast in the well. Then pour a cup of warm water into the well and leave covered for about ten minutes. Your yeast will froth up… After ten minutes add enough warm water and a pinch of salt so that you can pull the flour into a ball of dough, then knead your bread for about ten minutes.
For stick bread you need to have a slightly firmer dough than usual. Cover your dough and leave it to rise for about an hour. While your dough is rising send everyone off on a walk to find a suitable stick. Once your bread has risen you can break it up into enough chunks for everyone to make their own bread.
Let everyone knead their little ball of dough a little bit and then roll it into a rope… and carefully wrap it around their stick.
And then patience is key… twisting and turning and waiting… and chatting.
There you go… fun times on the fire… you can eat it plane off the fire, or add lashings of freshly made butter and honey.
Add some corn on the cob and some mushrooms and you have a ready made feast…
That’s it… have a fun weekend and happy cooking in the great outdoors.
So it was my birthday this past week… and we celebrated in style, my kind of style. It has taken years, literally, but I have finally figured out how to do the birthday thing. I know when you have many small people to take care of that often your birthday is the last thing on your mind… but if not for yourself, but for the people that love you… they really do want to celebrate you and we can all get a little more gracious regarding receiving their blessings…
Se7en tips for a Great Birthday
Tell your Friends: They love you dearly, and just have forgotten your birthday… the year I didn’t mention my birthday to anyone, and the father person was away traveling, was the loneliest of all. It was the year no-one said happy birthday. I realised too late that it was self-induced misery, and now I will say to friends something like, “It’s my birthday next week.” Really, your friends want to know…
Invest in a Calendar: You can go one step better than telling folks it is your birthday, and get yourself a pretty birthday calendar and fill in all your friends’ birthdays so that you can say Happy Birthday to them when the time comes.
Get to See Your Friends: You don’t need to have a massive party, you don’t need to co-ordinate a million schedules, just ask a friend or two over for coffee and then enjoy it. If all your friends are on the far side of the world and a lot of mine are… then at least chat with them… you will feel better for it, there is a reason that the people we love dearly are our friends…. they uplift us.
Decide on a Non-Negotiable: You will have to do things on your birthday that you may not like to do… that’s life, especially life with many small people, but there are many things that can be avoided… no housework on your birthday (for the win)… the world will not fall apart if for one day you don’t do housework. Make sure there is absolutely one thing that you can do that makes you happy and make sure it is on the to-do list for the day. It may be a bath, a hot cup of coffee, it may be a nap, for me it is a play on the beach, make sure it happens… everything else can actually be caught up later. Also, Tell Folk What You Need. Once you have decided what it is you need, make sure your family know what it is… if you need a cup of coffee and they secretly plan a banquet then things are not going to run smoothly for you… just saying!!!
When folks Ask How You Would Like to Celebrate: “Nothing” is not the best response… I told my kids that I didn’t think we needed to do anything for my birthday… turns out they really wanted to do something to celebrate and persisted… they rephrased it and asked, “What would be my favourite day?” That was easier to answer: Time on the beach, a lingering lasagne lunch in the great outdoors, and friends to catch up with. They made it happen.
Let Folk Spoil You: I don’t normally drink cream soda floats, though they totally remind me of my childhood. When my kids wanted to spoil me with cream soda floats, I didn’t refuse, I let them get totally onto it. They had such fun spoiling and what mother wouldn’t enjoy their crazy joy!!!
Don’t Get sucked into the Whole Gift Panic: So many folk, myself included battle with finding and thinking about the perfect gift, so much so that by the time we have thought of every possible gift scenario and like none of them, the day has arrived and it looks something like: Too little too late. We can all fall into this panic. The father person is brilliant at spoiling me and yet recoils in horror at the mention of my birthday… this year I told him to totally remove “birthday” from his plan for this week… and he totally got it. Not every gift has to be the best gift on earth… sometimes a bunch of flowers or a chocolate are the most perfect treat, and say happy birthday far better than discovering that the gifter anguished for months.
Don’t Ignore it, it Won’t Go Away: Trust me on this… if you leave it until the day or worse the day after, then chances are that you will have regrets. Avoid those regrets. Birthdays are meant to be enjoyed and sometimes circumstances can make them seem like the pits… but often times there is something to be said for just accepting it and making a plan of action. Even a teeny tiny little plan in the middle of a long day, can turn an ordinary day into a birthday of note.
So yesterday, with a late night celebrating of Hood #1’s birthday the night before we all might have managed to miss, if not sleep right through, our slot on breakfast TV. But I have a link… If like us you might have missed it, you can watch it again over here…