Does Kids’ Extracurricular Mean Sacrificing Personal Fitness?

How much time do you spend in a hockey arena, dance studio, or soccer pitch just waiting for your child?  I would estimate at least 60 minutes each.  Have you ever calculated how long it takes you to drive to each of these locations? Next add up the number of activities each child is involved in, then multiply this by the number of kids you have.

Now stop!

God knows, do not continue this calculation because you will lose your sanity when you realize how much time you spend each week sitting and waiting and driving. You are a parent after all, and this comes with the territory.  If you are like most parents, you even enjoy some of it.  You check in about the kids’ day at school during your drive and then enjoy seeing them learn new skills during their lesson. All good stuff. But the truth is, if you could have your kids participate in extracurricular while you did something of value for you at the same time other than catch up on texts, converse with other parents, or sit and drink an overpriced coffee, would you not chose to do so?

The thing I do least which I know I should do most, is exercise.  The thing I often lament while my children are off getting fit, having fun and honing new skills, is that I am not!  I crave even a fraction of the time I used to have to devote to my personal fitness and athletic interests.  Unfortunately in our our grown up lives involving children, a home, and a job, the time and energy we used to have in abundance for these worthy pursuits sadly gets whittled away.  Motivation and discipline are often less of the issue than the logistical juggling.  The truth is, if there were opportunities to exercise or take a class while my children were doing the same, I would jump at the chance!  I do enjoy watching the kids, but I would gladly work in some exercise too if the facilities existed.   We live in a cold and snowy winter climate 70% of the year, so going for a good sweat-worthy run or walk outside is often not possible. Dring the warmer months, frequently I and many other parents, bring our gear and hit the trails.  But why aren’t there other options that are not weather dependent and more widely appealing?  Not everyone is a runner after all.  

What if there was an area we could go, like a meeting room in an arena or a corner of the soccer centre, where we could spread out a few yoga mats and throw down some sun salutations or core exercises?  Maybe there could be a place we could hook up our TRX’s and do a nice little strength circuit?  With all of the boot camp providers out there I am surprised that none of them have tapped into this underserviced market!  Even some adult classes offered at the same times as the kids’ activities would be fun on occasion, although I realize that this solution requires more facility space than is readily available in the city I live in for sure.  I know I am not the only parent who wishes for this.  I frequently hear other parents express this same frustration as well. 

Perhaps the concept of family fitness, where family members of all ages can partipate at their individual level, should become the preferred format that is adopted by recreation providers.  Martial arts studios do a great job of this.  All family members can learn the martial art at the same time, and often these organizations even cap their fees after you pay for a family of four.  This is good value for those of us with larger families!  Of course, this idea only makes sense with some types of activities, but even offering the space for other family members to engage in independent exercise is making the most of what would have been largely wasted down time.  Let’s be honest, we could all a fewer excuses to be less active.  

Perhaps then, we as the parent consumers of these programs and masters of our schedules, should start asking for these provisions for exercise?  Maybe it is time to take back some control and get something out of the time we invest in our kids.  Rethinking the status quo would go a long way to improving quality of life for me and others in my parent peer group.  And it is saying something bigger too.  It is sending the message that yes, our kids are important, but so are our families.  That means the parents too.  Having our children see us prioritize our health this way will teach our children through our example.

Wouldn’t it be great if getting our kids involved in activities did not have to mean sacrificing our own fitness and wellbeing?


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