When the temperature dips way below zero and the days grow dark early, it’s difficult for mothers of young children to find fun, active things to do indoors. After all, winter sports like skating, snowshoeing, sledding or skiing are impossible with a baby and a difficult option with a toddler.
According to Health Canada, obesity has drastically increased over the last 25 years and over half of Canadian children are not active enough for optimal growth and development. So, it’s never too early to teach your children that physical activity should be a normal part of their lives.
The best place to start moving is right in your own home. Find a large enough space where you and your children can move freely. It’s as simple as turning music on and having a dance party. I can personally attest to how much fun they are. We hold daily dance parties in our home. I get to spend quality time with my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter doing something that we both enjoy, while I burn calories and get my heart rate up. Our dance parties have become a family affair because even my husband joins in and our five-month-old smiles and kicks her legs in joy while watching us from her bouncy chair.
If you need more structure and guided instruction, try a kid-friendly dance or exercise video that you and your child can follow together. You can choose a high-impact workout with a focus on movement and coordination or a low-impact workout, like a yoga, where the focus is on stability, balance and strength. Just make sure that you pick one that is age-appropriate for your child.
Fitness DVDs and online videos are also a great option for the mother of a newborn. They can help you get back to your pre-pregnancy shape while you bond with your baby. Look for postnatal workout videos that incorporate exercise that is equally beneficial to you and fun for your baby so that the workout feels like playtime.
Outside the home
If you’re getting cabin fever, there are ways to be active outside the home with your children. For mothers with babies, consider stroller aerobics. “The biggest challenge that I have is finding a way to work out while looking after Jude all day," says Melanie Atcovitch, a Montreal mother who has also tried baby-and-mom dance classes and baby yoga with her seven-month old Jude. "Stroller aerobics is the perfect fit since I get a workout, and I can bring my baby.”
The outdoor temperature may not permit you to do it at your local beach but there's nothing stopping you from swimming indoors. Babies love water, so it’s an ideal activity for a mother and her little one. As for older children whether, it’s swimming lessons with their parents or a free swim where the entire family can participate, swimming is fun and has proven health benefits.
Visit an indoor playground. Filled with bright-coloured large tubes and tunnels, slides, mats, climbing walls, hand rings and ball pits, these indoor mazes are where you and your child can burn off energy in a safe, kid-friendly place. If you worry that your child may be too young for these large play-centres most have specifically designed play areas for children under three years old.
During the winter months it’s easy to slip into hibernation mode. Instead of lounging lazily at home in front of the television or computer, get yourself and your children physically active. In doing so, you will teach them to develop good habits and instill in them a lifetime of health.