With Christmas fast approaching it's time to think about that very important Christmas list. It's not always easy to know what to buy for your children, so I want to encourage you to think about gifts that will allow your children to get outdoors and be active. With computers, technology, video games and social media becoming increasingly popular, it is more important than ever to introduce our children to the joys of getting outdoors and being active. If our children learn to love the outdoors while they are young, then they are less likely to choose a sedentary lifestyle when they are older.
I've been a asking for ideas for Christmas gifts over at the facebook group, and with your help, I've compiled a list of my top 10 Christmas gifts for active families:
Spending time on the trampoline is honestly one of my favourite memories from my own childhood. I spent hours upon hours perfecting my 'tricks'. Apart from the obvious enjoyment and cardiovascular benefits of jumping on a trampoline, there are numerous other health benefits including increased coordination, core strengthening and lymphatic drainage (perhaps a little motivation for you to get on and bounce with your children?). We bought one for our children last Christmas and it was definitely a worthwhile investment, if you're thinking of getting your own then there is a good range of trampolines at Big W.
As with the trampoline, we bought a swing set and I have loved watching Mr 4 and Miss 2 spend time swinging, climbing and sliding on the slide. There are many variations out there and prices can vary substantially depending on what you want, I think the basics are always good though: a slide, a swing, a see-saw, and perhaps monkey bars or a ladder.
Bikes (and trikes for the little ones) are a great way to keep the children busy, active and improving their balance and coordination skills. A trip down to the local bike path also makes for a fantastic family outing. I know my little ones are getting so quick on their bikes now that it won't be long before I can jog or ride behind them, something I'm really looking forward to.
Sand Pits are great, especially for young children. I have ours set up near our clothesline so that when my daughter was younger, I could set her up in the sand pit where she could happily play while I hung clothes. I have found that although the wooden sand pits are larger and look the best aesthetically, the smaller versions with a lid (like the old fashioned shell styles - which I have seen at both Kmart & Bunnings) are the most practical for keeping insects, leaves,water and animals out. We use the shell for sand and the one pictured for a baby pool, which brings me to..
5. Baby Pools
A baby pool is a great way for kids to cool down on a warm summer's day. Fill it with bath toys, containers, watering cans and whatever else you can think of, the kids will have a wonderful time experiencing some water play and tactile fun. Just remember to always supervise your children constantly, and tip the water out as soon as you are finished. One final tip for baby pools is to use the non-stick bath stickers on the bottom to prevent falls when getting in and out of the pool.
It might sound like this is a present solely for Dad, but a BBQ ends up being a great way to get the whole family outdoors. Mum gets a night off cooking the meat, the kids can play outdoors whilst dinner is being cooked on the BBQ, and the whole family can enjoy eating and spending time out in the fresh air. An old fashioned BBQ Is a great way to spend a balmy summer's evening.
7. Camping Equipment
What better way to get outdoors and be active, than to sleep outdoors? Camping gear is on our personal wish-list this Christmas. Hubs and I used to love a good surfing & camping holiday in years gone by, but we haven't been camping as a family yet so we are keen to give it a try. I am hoping there will be some new sleeping bags and camping mattresses under our tree this year!
A sand and water play table is a great way to keep your toddler entertained while the older children run around. We used to keep ours on our deck and like the baby pool, it's great for a warm summer's day. We had the exact model pictured above and what I particularly like about it, is that it is lightweight and easy to move around as required. This style of table suits children from standing age (around 11-12 months onward, supervised of course), right through to about 3 years old.
Scooter are another great way for children to be active and practice their balance and coordination skills. Start off with a nice three wheeler for younger children, then as they get older and faster, they can graduate to a two-wheeler, and eventually the razor-style scooters.
Some of my fondest memories from childhood were playing backyard cricket with my family. Bare feet in freshly cut grass, the smell of barbeques cooking, I really believe that these moments helped shape who I am today - my love of the outdoors and enjoyment of physical activity. Put a cricket set under the tree and you have an activity the whole family can enjoy, and probably some of the neighbours too.
So there you have my Top 10 gifts that will encourage your family and children to get active these holidays! Happy Christmas shopping!
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