Bring Back Play

Easter is over. Thankfully! I have eaten myself into a chocolate flavoured oblivion over the past week. Consequently, I feel absolutely rubbish. I am currently trying to detox a bit, get a handle on the sugar withdrawals and, overall, just get back to being healthier.

I started running this time last year and loved it. I ran 5k, 3 times a week, from last April until... maybe Hallowe'en, when I started back at work after my parental leave. Then the evenings got too dark for me to run alone outdoors. And then it got too cold. And then I got out of the habit. After that it all seemed like too much work. And now it seems really daunting to get out and try again.

But I want to. I need to. I want to be fit and healthy for my own sake and also for my children's sake. I want to be around for them for as long as possible. I want to set a good example too. I want them to see me eating well and exercising not devouring cake and complaining about my expanding waistline.

I want them to be fit and healthy too, of course. So, when I saw the recent Safefood campaign about childhood obesity, it stopped me in my tracks and made me think about the levels of physical activity my children are actually getting. It also served as a timely reminder that I need to get moving again myself.

With a long Winter of rain and cold weather, there have certainly been days on end where the girls only left the house to get to and from Naíonra - in the car. I'm sure they do some physical exercise in preschool - but certainly not the EU recommended 60 minutes.

Though the children are indoors a lot in the colder months, Devo and I try to be mindful of how they are playing. We don't allow Sábha to watch much television. Lile has no interest in TV whatsoever, but can sit for ages drawing. We don't have an ipad and I only allow them to play with apps on my phone in waiting rooms or when I absolutely need 5 minutes to do something that requires quiet children. {I'm not very good at sharing my phone ;) }

I don't think they are totally sedentary a lot, but I can't say for sure how many minutes of physical activity my girls are really getting on rainy days. The Safefood information hub is a really handy resource for helping me figure out how much they might be getting and also gives lots of suggestions for things to do - even on miserable days- to get children moving more.

Thanks to a stay at home Daddy who likes to be active, I'm pretty confident that, most days, my children are getting enough exercise. He brings them to the beach and to the park. He walks them to the shops - uphill all the way. He brings them out on their scooters, even though he ends up carrying the scooters most of the way home. He brings them on playdates to friend's houses where gangs of children just run around in circles together for hours. Lucky girls.

On weekends we always try to make a special effort to get out into nature for a long walk. It does all of us the world of good and it wears the girls out, so that they sleep well too. I definitely notice that on the days when the girls have been indoors all day, they don't sleep as well as they do when they have been out and about.

But Ireland is Ireland, and there will always be rainy days so I'm going to make a conscious effort to bring some active play into our home too. Maybe a daily-disco before bed! 

It will be fun for all of us and will hopefully go a long way towards keeping both of my girls from being one of the 1 in 4 children who are overweight or obese in Ireland.

I'd quite like to keep myself away from that statistic too!


  1. It's such a difficult one this: I succeeded with my eldest child - and she is now a gymnastics coach! Smiley is pretty sedentary, but then that is pretty common for the wheelchair bound! But she does have an exercise bike, floor play and goes swimming regularly. My son used to be active, but now prefers surfing on the sofa to any other activity, I am really hoping that that will change. x

    1. I think it's much easier with small children as being in motion seems to be their natural state! In fairness, Smiley has a pretty good excuse, but it sounds like she's doing rather well regardless - probably better than me! I have no idea what I'll do when my girls get to their teenage years - that will be a challenge. How wonderful that your eldest is a gymnastics coach! Top marks for you!!

  2. A timely post just after Easter and a good reminder to us all ;) I have similar plans for myself and the family (not the running 5K bit though, unfortunately) but walking the lovely lane way beside our house, getting outdoors more and... something I have let slip lately.... leading by example... just as you plan to do!

    1. If there was a lovely lane nearby for me to walk - you'd better believe I'd be doing that rather than the running! But yes, the 'leading by example' is an important one, I think. If exercise is a regular habit - they might miss it if they stopped!


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