Exergaming, or games that involve physical exertion, refer to any game programs that involve exercising or moving your body as you play. A familiar example might be the Wii, a game console that lets you play tennis, duel with swords, bowl, golf, and much more by moving your body along with the controller to manipulate your avatar on screen. Other good examples would be Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero.
Now, with children's health professionals telling us to limit our children's screen time and limit video gaming in lieu of social activities, once consideration could be to change out normal video games for games like these. Exergames have been shown to provide exercise and some health benefits for kids, but that isn't the only benefit! Recent studies are showing that exergames can be a gateway to sports and other physical exercise!
Did you know that children who participate in active video games are more likely to get involved in active, non-gaming activities? I know I didn't! I came across a study published in Global Pediatric Health, a periodical dedicated to children's health, that explains this phenomenon. According to this study, 23 out of 24 kids who had not participated in an active activity before this family fitness exergaming program decided to join non-gaming exercise activities! Exergaming can increase motivation, feelings of physical self-worth, and sports competence.
What's exciting is that exergaming programs are getting more and more popular, which means they are easier to access. If you're looking for ways to get your kids into a more active lifestyle, exergames could be a great transition from couch potato to active kiddo. Consider getting an exergaming program for your kids, or for your family to enjoy together.
By Trixie Trampoline
References: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4905161/ https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/exergames-a-new-step-toward-fitness-201203084470 https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=100998
Have you noticed an increase in sedentary practices in your family this winter? According to a 2016 study done by Cambridge University, children fail to get enough active exercise during the colder winter months, and this can impede both mental and physical development. It's easy to understand why cold weather would limit a child's active hours, but as parents it's important we remember to keep them active. So, I've compiled a list of indoor activities that can be done either in the home or in the community, to help improve our kids activeness during winter weekends!
- Swimming. Any local indoor swimming pool can make a great outing, and a great workout, for your family.
- Trampoline Park. A local indoor trampoline park is a great place to have some fun and get your kids moving!
- Family Game Sites. There are many great websites that have short 3-5 minute work out and dance videos geared towards kids. Some of my kids' favorites: GoNoodle, Mini Groov3 Workouts, Darebee, Fitness Blender, Whip Nae Nae Cardio. They're all free and easy to use, and a few videos in a row can make a great family workout!
- Roller/Ice Skating Rink. Get your kids' legs moving by taking them to an indoor roller skating or ice skating rink.
- Just Dance. It's as easy as pulling up YouTube and clicking any Just Dance video. For younger kids, search for Just Dance Kids. The choreographed dances are a dance party workout the whole family can enjoy!
- Martial Arts Class. If your kids need some structured and scheduled workout times, try enrolling them in a community martial arts class! It's great exercise, as well as teaching kids discipline and self-defense.
- The Floor is Lava. This classic kids game can easily become a great workout! The house becomes an obstacle course as kids jump from safe place to safe place without touching the floor. Make sure to define what is off-limits (i.e. tables, bannisters, counters) before you start play. If you're not comfortable having kids jump across beds and couches, put pillows, towels, blankets, or soft toys on the ground as the safe points.
- Tape Lines. Using any painters tape, mark out 5-10 lines (each one foot apart) on the floor. Label one the start line, and give your kids some jumping challenges! See how many lines they can jump over in different ways (frog jump, swinging arms, running jump, etc.) and see which way gets the best jump. See how many lines they can jump backwards, or on one leg. Every time you play, kids can think up new ways to jump to get past the most lines.
- Movement Chain. This game is great for creative families with at least two people. One person chooses a simple movement (like two jumping jacks, spinning around clockwise once, or flossing). The next person in the chain must do the first movement, and add their own. Keep going until you're all worn out and the chain is too long to remember anymore!
- DIY "Laser" Obstacle Course. All you need for an epic exercise game is a hallway, some tape, and streamers from the dollar store. Tape the streamers across the hallway (or room, if you're really ambitious) in elaborate criss-crossed patterns, leaving gaps just big enough for your kids to wriggle through. Have kids try to complete the course without touching/pulling down the streamers! It can be a great strategy game, as well as some creative exercise.
- Cleaning Race. The 10-Minute Tidy is something I dreaded as a child but have come to love as a parent. Set a timer for ten minutes and assign children to a room(s). Kids have to clean as much as they can (including windexing the windows, dusting picture frames, organizing bookshelves, or other deep-cleaning) in the provided time. Putting kids in separate rooms means you can reward whoever gets the most done in the time given (the winner can earn extra computer time, the right to pick tonight's movie, or to go first on the game, etc). The faster they clean, the more exercise they get!
- Choreography. Dancing can be fantastic cardio, but kids don't always know how to move. Find a music video to an active song and have kids try to copy the dancing in the music video. Keep playing until they have learned the dance, or are too tired to keep playing!
- Wheelbarrow-, Crab-, and Bear-Walk Races. Holding these three positions takes a lot of core and muscle control, so races like these are a great way to work out your kids. Mark the start and finish line down a hallway, or arrange furniture into a course!
- Rock Climbing. Check with your local rock climbing locations for their age restrictions! Not all are little-kid friendly, but many welcome kids aged 8-10 and older. Rock climbing can be a fun, strategic challenge that helps them stretch their legs.
- Minute to Win it. Find a few of these crazy game show blueprints and play with your family! Whether you're eating an oreo off your forehead, bowling with a tennis ball swinging like an elephant nose, or stacking cup pyramids, these games are a great way to get your kids active for a family activity.
By Trixie Trampoline
Note: Please keep any activity within the physical limits of the participants and stay safe!
If you were to Google what random holiday is today (which, I'm sure you do every day…), you'd read something interesting. January 17th is Benjamin Franklin Day. It's also Hot-Buttered Rum Day and National Hotheads Chili Day. Most disheartening, is that January 17th is also celebrated as Ditch Your New Year's Resolution Day. It's only halfway through the first month of 2018! That's it? That's all we've got, eh? Wrong. Don't doubt yourself! Introducing new habits to your life can be frustrating and difficult, but if you really want to accomplish your goals now is not the time to stop trying!
According to psychologists, the whole "15 times makes a habit" thing is an old wives tale. Doing things 15 or 21 times (the two most common time-frames stated for habit-setting) isn't a significant enough period of time for most habits to form. In fact, one study informs us that it can take as few as 66 and as many as 250 days before a behavior becomes a habit -- something you do everyday without really thinking.
You started out this year with a goal. You've adapted those dreams into SMART goals that you can achieve in measurable steps. Now comes the hardest part -- it's time to keep going! Don't give up, even if you aren't on track. It's okay, so long as you do a little better today than you did yesterday.
By Trixie Trampoline
References: https://www.checkiday.com/1/17/2019 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-happiness-project/200910/stop-expecting-change-your-habit-in-21-days https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/02/how-long-it-takes-to-form-a-new-habit/
We've said goodbye to 2018, and many of us have started setting goals for the new year. Be it weight loss, healthier eating, exercise more, starting that dream job, stop that bad habit, New Year's Resolutions are often something that keep us going those first few weeks in January, and then tucker out before March. But did you know that there's a way to help your resolutions stick?
In a psychology class a few years ago, I learned a goal-setting technique that I have used for every goal I've set since, and I want to share it with you to help you keep those 2019 goals! It's called the SMART goals technique, and following its guidelines can help you make realistic, achievable goals.
The biggest problem with most New Year's Resolutions is that they are vague, general concepts with no specificity and no accountability. Using the SMART technique can help you express those concepts in a tangible, more sustainable way.
S - Specific. It's hard to stick to vague goals like "exercise more." What exactly do you want to achieve, and how?
M - Measurable. If your goal is to vague, how will you know when you've achieved it? Set a goal that is measurable, so you can track your project and feel each small achievement as a step towards your ultimate goal.
A - Be Accountable. It can be so easy to give up a New Year's Resolution after a few days or weeks. Pick an app, a friend, or a prize that can help you take accountability for achieving (or failing to achieve) daily, weekly, and monthly goals.
R - Realistic. Sometimes we dream a little to big, and we end up disappointing ourselves. Set yourself up for success by setting realistic goals. Don't think of it as settling or giving up on a big dream, rather as an attainable step towards the ultimate goal.
T - Timeframe. If your goal doesn't have a time frame, are you really going to be motivated to finish on time? New Year's resolutions are often set with vague timeframes like "this year." What does that really mean? Choose a realistic, attainable timeframe in which you can reasonably feel you've achieved something.
If you're making SMART New Year's Resolutions, you won't be thinking of it in terms of "this year I'm going to lose weight" (to use a common New Year's Resolution for an example). Instead, set a smart goal: I'm going to lose 25 pounds at a healthy rate of half a pound per week. This means your goal is specific: you are going to lose 25 pounds. Your goal is measurable: you can measure each half pound as a successful step towards the ultimate goal of 25 pounds. Your goal is realistic: 25 pounds in a year is a realistic goal that takes into account healthy weight loss practices. Your goal has an obvious time frame: you've broken your goal into weekly progress points that you'll finish in 50 weeks (about one year). The hardest one for me is accountability, but a smart goal will motive you to keep you accountable. If you don't hit that half pound mark every week, you know you aren't keeping up with your goals.
Think about your own New Year's Resolutions. Are they SMART? If not, don't despair! It's only January 4th, and there is plenty of time to adopt this technique for the goals you've set. Think them through, and you'll be more likely to rock 2019 and achieve those goals!
Happy New Year!
By Trixie Trampoline
Kids need exercise as much as adults, but it can be difficult to keep your kids active, especially during these cold winter months. According to the CDC, children need at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise daily! Though most schools provide about 45 minutes of recess a day, it's recommended that children include aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening exercise 3 days per week each. I know it can be difficult to get your kids off the couch, but here are some ways to keep your kids active during winter break!
- Sledding. You read that right! Sledding can be a great workout for your kids! Children who steer use their core and arm muscles, and of course, the bigger the hill, the harder the climb back to the top.
- Ice Skating. Believe it or not, ice-skating can be a big calorie burner! In fact, it's an aerobic, muscle strengthening workout that can burn up to 300 calories in 30 minutes. While you're probably not worried about your child's calorie count, you'll certainly appreciate how much energy your kids can expend racing around the rink.
- Swimming. Just because it's winter doesn't mean your kids can't enjoy the benefits of a local indoor swimming pool! Let your kids expend their pent-up energy swimming, and they'll get a heart-healthy aerobic exercise in. Just remember to bring a blow dryer and dry your kids hair thoroughly before heading back out into the cold!
- Jumping. Not all kids like playing in the cold and snow, but don't despair! There are plenty of indoor recreational options, like an indoor trampoline park! Jumping can provide aerobic and bone-strengthening exercise that can be beneficial for children's' health, without having to spend too much time in the cold.
- Snowball fight! Anything that gets kids running around can be a great workout, and snowball fights are no exception. Throwing snowballs and running around the yard can work major muscle groups, so don't discount it as a beneficial activity! Remind your kids not to throw at each other's heads, and to avoid any ice, and they're sure to enjoy themselves while getting some good exercise.
By Trixie Trampoline
We've all experienced the unyielding annoyance of that one song that's stuck in your head. Playing over and over again, that song can drive you crazy! I don't know about you, but for me this time of year is the I've-got-a-song-stuck-in-my-head Olympics. Christmas carols are catchy, and they are everywhere. So it got me wondering: how can I get song out of my head?
Turns out it's a pretty common question! Those songs that get stuck in your head, or "earworms," occur when our brains are unoccupied, like when you do chores or go grocery shopping. Several major studies have been conducted by psychologists and neuroscientists since 2012. According to this research, there are a number of things you can try:
- Bake Cookies. Concentrating on a task or project can help busy your brain until you forget you had a song stuck in your head. The trick is, don't listen to music while you do this! If you idley listen to music while you work, you may get a new earworm while working to dispel the first!
- Talk to a neighbor. Striking up a conversation is a great way to distract your brain from the Christmas carol that won't go away!
- Go Sledding. Exercise takes a lot of focus, so it's a great way to force your brain to think about something other than the earworm. Picking a form of exercise that's more fun than chore can pull your mind off the song entirely, until you're having too much fun to think about anything else.
- Listen to the full song. Believe it or not, research suggests that listening to the entire song can actually get that song out of your head. The theory is that your brain gets an earworm because it can't figure out how the song ends, or what comes next. Listening to the entire tune can help your brain file it away, and the earworm will most likely stop bothering you.
By Trixie Trampoline
Soon, Thanksgiving will be over; the turkey will be carved, the yams devoured, the pie pans emptied of all but the crumbs. Now, I'm the type that is perfectly content to eat the same plate of leftovers for a week. However, my S.O. isn't such a fan. This year, if only so I'm not the only one to eat the leftovers, I've been looking for some delicious and easy meals that can be made using nothing but Thanksgiving leftovers! Check out some of these must-try recipes:
- The Ultimate Thanksgiving Sammy. This throw-together sandwich is the perfect treat for that day-after lunch. Butter both sides of two pieces of your favorite bread (I like to start with toasted bread, but it's just as good without). I think this sandwich is best when everything is nice and warm! Gather together about ⅓ cup mashed potatoes, with a few tablespoons of gravy, slices of turkey, some stuffing, and some cranberry sauce. Spread cranberry sauce on the top of the bread, and gravy on the bottom. From the bottom, spread the mashed potatoes, stack the stuffing, and then the turkey goes on top. If you like, you can add a creamy cheese like mozzarella or muenster.
- Turkey Pot Pie -- My family is forever over-estimating the number of pies we can make and eat for Thanksgiving, and the result is always a few extra portions of pie crust dough. In an empty pie pan (or a casserole dish, if you can't find a clean pie pan!), spread a layer of pie dough. Fill with slices (smaller pulled pieces and cubes would work too) of turkey, spooned balls of mashed potato, gravy, and leftover green bean casserole, and stewed carrots. Cover with another portion of pie crust dough, cut slices (steam vents so the dough can get crispy) in the top and bake at 425 F for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
- Upside Down Thanksgiving Casserole. This dish is a great place to utilize all of your leftovers by making a second family meal with it. Pour any leftover gravy into the bottom of a casserole dish. Cover with a layer of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes mash, leftover veggies (I'm a fan of carrots or corn, but this is a great way to reuse your green bean casserole!), turkey slices, and cranberry sauce. Top with cheese and cover with stuffing. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until stuffing is good and crispy and the casserole is heated through.
- Leftover Brunch. You've heard of fried chicken and waffles, right? Well, this is the Thanksgiving version: Cranberry turkey and waffles! For the waffle batter, you'll need about 4 cups of leftover stuffing, which you'll want to crumble up. Combine with 1 cup mashed potatoes and 2 eggs. Heat up your waffle iron and cook until they easily come up, about 6 minutes. Top the waffles with slices of turkey and cranberry sauce, and plenty of gravy!
- Turkey Dinner Chowder. One of my favorite tricks for making chowders and thick soups is leftover mashed potatoes, and Thanksgiving provides the perfect leftovers for a slew of soups. One that will utilize a large portion of your leftovers is my thanksgiving soup, or turkey dinner chowder. You'll need about 2 cups of leftover gravy, 2 cups of milk, and 1 stick of butter in a large stock pan. As the butter starts to melt and the milk begins to steam, add mashed potatoes to the mixture one scoop at a time, stirring until combined before adding the next scoop. You'll want 2-3 cups of mashed potato. Continue adding until the mixture reaches a creamy chowder-like consistency. Add ½-1 cup sweet potato mash in the same manner. Pull or slice your leftover turkey into bite-size chunks. Add 1-2 cups of turkey and ½ cup of corn to the chowder. Re-season to taste, and serve with oven-warmed stuffing on top.
- Turkey Noodle Soup. When you've finally picked your bird clean, don't throw it away! Use the bones to make a stock for a homemade turkey noodle soup. In a large stock pot, place the turkey bones, 2 quartered onions, and the sprigs of any leftover herbs (like rosemary or thyme) and cover in lightly salted water. Bring to a boil, and cook uncovered for 3-4 hours. Skim regularly with a sieve to remove unwanted fat from the broth, and add cold water as needed to keep the ingredients covered. When the stock is finished, add diced carrots and celery to broth and boil for about 4 minutes. Add 1-2 cups of uncooked pasta and boil for 8, or until the noodles and vegetables reach their desired softness. Add salt and pepper to taste.
By Trixie Trampoline
Thanksgiving is just a week away, and I couldn't be more excited. My family spends the day together in the kitchen, making pies and sides while the turkey roasts away in the oven. Over the years, we've tried many, many different recipes on our Thanksgiving Bird. If you need some inspiration, or just want to try something new, here are my family's three favorites!
Recipe One: Bacon Herb Bird
If you love fresh herbs and delicious, juicy bacon (who doesn't, right!), then this is the bird for you! You'll need one cup (2 sticks) of butter, half a pound (about half of a normal sized package) of bacon, 2-5 sprigs of fresh thyme, and one clove of fresh garlic. I would recommend not using a smoked or maple bacon because the flavors might not come out as yummy as you think. Have a few oranges and onions to fill the bird.
Make sure to leave your butter on the counter for a good hour beforehand, so it's soft enough to work with. DO NOT MELT THE BUTTER. Pull the fresh thyme from the stems and roughly chop. Mince the garlic -- or put it through a garlic press, if you have one. Cut the bacon into bite-sized pieces; I prefer small cubes, but thin slices or large chunks will work too.
In a bowl with plenty of room, combine the ingredients.
Now for the turkey. On each side, make a small incision in the turkey's skin at the height of the breast, the rear of the bird, and in the leg. Slide a clean finger into the incision and slide your finger between the skin and the meat, creating a pocket. Take your newly created bacon herb butter, and fill the pocket. The goal is to cover as much of the turkey as possible. You will use the entire mixture on a 15-20 lb bird.
To finish, lightly salt the surface of the turkey skin. Fill the turkey's cavity with raw garlic, chopped onions, and orange slices.
Bake the turkey according to instructions.
Recipe Two: The Apple and Rosemary Bird
If you're looking for a lighter, fresher taste for the center of your table, you'll love this fall harvest apple and rosemary recipe. You'll need 2 cups of apple juice, 2 red apples, 2 onions, 5-7 sprigs of fresh rosemary.
Give the apples and onions a rough chop and insert them into the turkey's inner cavity. Make sure to remove the neck and innards before you stuff the turkey! Stick three or four whole sprigs of rosemary in as well. I like to do this in an order, so the mix is even; apple, onion, a sprig of rosemary, apple, onion, a sprig of rosemary, and so on.
With the remaining sprigs of rosemary, pull the leaves off the stem and give them a rough chop. Keep the pieces big so they don't dry out too much as they bake. Rub the turkey skin with a bit of oil, lightly salt, and then massage the rosemary into the skin.
Fill the base of the roasting pan with 2 cups of apple juice, so the apple flavored steam will coat the turkey as it roasts in the oven.
Bake the turkey according to instructions.
Recipe Three: The Zesty Turkey Cranberry
If you like your meat to have a fruity zing, this delicious twist on classic favors may be a new favorite. You'll need 4-6 oranges, half a pound (half of one regular sized bag) of cranberries, 2 onions, fresh rosemary, 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter. Make sure to leave the butter on the counter for at least an hour so that it's soft enough to work with. Remember, DO NOT MELT THE BUTTER.
This recipe has similar steps to recipe one, but a very different flavor profile.
Cut the butter into large cubes and add 2 cups of cranberries (about a quarter of a pound), and 2-3 sprigs of rosemary (just the leaves). I would recommend keeping the cranberries frozen until the second you start mixing, so they stay whole and juicy for baking into the turkey. If you don't want to cut the butter, this recipe works just fine, but having the butter in chunks does help to disperse the cranberries evenly through the mixture.
On each side of your turkey, make a small incision in the turkey's skin at the height of the breast, the rear of the bird, and in the leg. Slide a clean finger into the incision and slide your finger between the skin and the meat, creating a pocket. Take your newly created cranberry butter, and fill the pocket. The goal is to cover as much of the turkey as possible. You will use the entire mixture on a 15-20 lb bird.
Chop up the oranges and onions. Fill the turkey's cavity with the remaining sprigs of rosemary, the other half of the cranberries, the chopped onions, and the orange slices. To finish, lightly salt the surface of the turkey skin.
Bake the turkey according to instructions.
Whatever recipe you choose, I hope you have a great thanksgiving!
By Trixie Trampoline
The crisp fall air is quickly waning to the bitter chill of winter, and it's time to start thinking up birthday party ideas for your winter darlings. As we get closer and closer to the winter holiday season, may birthday parties transition into holiday parties. They get more extravagant and more overwhelming to plan because so many birthday parties are indoors. I've never been one for Christmas or Turkey Day Birthday parties, so if you're running out of non-holiday ideas, here are some whimsical winter party ideas that are easy to plan and harness the magic of the season without reusing last year's Christmas decorations.
- Hot Chocolate Bar. Hot chocolate is the perfect beverage to be at the center of a birthday party. You can buy a host of flavored cocoa, or start with different bases (my favorite is coconut milk heated and poured over fresh chocolate, but whole milk and water are great bases too). You can provide a selection of toppings, from marshmallows to whipped cream to chocolate candies or peppermint shavings. Make it a tea party by providing tea cups and saucers. Serve sugar cookies, biscotti, or other dip-able sweets. Older kids will love chatting over cocoa and munching on cookies.
- Sledding party. If you live anywhere that gets a lot of winter snow, consider an outdoor sledding party! Tell your guests to arrive with all of their snow gear, and the bring their favorite sled. Walk to a nearby sledding hill and let the kids go at it, and they'll entertain themselves. If you feel the need for more structure, consider races or contests (for example, who can make it the farthest down the hill). When the kids are exhausted from snowy fun, take them home for hot cocoa and cake.
- Ice Skating Adventure. A great compromise for any group who wants to play in the snow but wants to stay indoors where it's warm, an ice skating adventure is a great way for your party-goers to play! Whether you choose a seasonal outdoor rink, or an indoor rink that's year round, your guests will love strapping on some skates and enjoying some time on the ice. Cake and ice cream turn the adventure into a birthday party, making it a rather simple outing that everyone will enjoy.
- Slumber Party. This is a classic for a reason, and winter time is my favorite time to hold a slumber party. Make sure every guest has their own place to sleep -- if you're really going for it you can set up a blanket fort, individual tents, or even small air mattresses. Pile pillows, blankets, and other comfy accoutrements around the party area. Snacks, movies, or classic slumber party games (truth or dare, twister) can personalize the evening so everyone enjoys themselves. Consider a movie if the party goers need something to do.
- The Lumberjack. Plaid, chili, bears, and trees come together for a fantastic party in the lumberjack. Decorate the house like a woodsy cabin, decorate cookies like bears or trees, and have kids dress in jeans and plaid shirts. If you're kids are older (at least 8), consider taking them axe throwing. It's a growing trend, and proper axe throwing establishments are safety conscious and easy for everyone to enjoy.
- Mall Scavenger Hunt. If you've never heard of the concept, a mall scavenger hunt involves teams walking around and taking pictures with specific items. If you need some ideas, there are many websites with detailed lists, like the one here: (https://icebreakerideas.com/mall-scavenger-hunt-lists-ideas/). Lunch, a scavenger hunt, and a movie are a great way to enjoy an indoor party!
By Trixie Trampoline
Fall has come to town, and with all the rain and chilly weather parents are starting to feel the cabin fever as kids are stuck inside more and more. You've pulled out the jackets and the rain boots, but there's only so much you can do to get your kids outside in this weather. I don't know about you, but stir crazy kiddos on a long cold weekend is not my idea of a good time. So, I looked around for some family-friendly indoor activities that are sure to help entertain the kids' hands, minds, and bodies on rainy weekends.
- See the Stars. Take the kids to a local planetarium! My local planetarium is a great place for kids to explore with their hands, from exhibits to special weekly programs. When their minds are occupied by the stars, they're sure to enjoy themselves.
- Get Painting. Visit a nearby paint-your-own-ceramics studio and let your kids get their fingers in some paint. Not only will they get some hands-on fun, but they'll get to keep a beautiful piece of art all their own.
- Water babies. Hit the pool at your local high school during open swim hours. Swimming is great exercise, and games like sharks and minnows and Marco Polo can entertain the kids for hours.
- Explore. Kid friendly museums are a great place to play. Not only do they provide a learning environment, they provide hands-on fun! Whether your kids are into science, natural history, art, or technology, there's sure to be a museum nearby that's the perfect place for some educational fun.
- Jump around. Trampoline parks are a great indoor activity for active families. There's plenty of room to play, and your kids have a great outlet for their energy!
- Be a friend. Take your kids to volunteer at a local dog shelter. Though not all volunteer opportunities are kid friendly, many animal shelters have special times for their animals to play with kids, take walks, or even just cuddle. It's an afternoon activity that will benefit both your kids, and the lonely pups!
- Whip up a snack. Sign your kids up for a cooking class! Some structured fun that results in a snack will be a real kid-pleaser.
- Next Quarter. Send your kids to a nearby arcade with some coins, and they'll have plenty of lights and sounds to entertain them. Arcade's are good, clean fun!
- Be Bookworms. Though it won't help with excess energy, taking your kids to your local library is a lovely outing that will provide your kids with hours of entertainment -- especially once they get home with new books.
- The $3 game. Take your kids to the local dollar store and try out a game that has become a family favorite! Pick a theme (like fall, snacks, snowmen, halloween, the beach, etc) and have kids find three items that fit that theme. For example, if the theme is fall: something to keep you warm, something spicy, and something that makes you think of leaves. Each child will get a completely different three items, and when they're finished, they swap randomly by drawing names out of a hat. Then, your kids will have three new toys to play with. It's a great game that kills an afternoon!
By Trixie Trampoline
As parents, planning a birthday party is all about activities, food, and decorations. Our efforts are focused on the event: does it look good, will they like the food, will they have fun, is it safe, do I have enough for them to do. But here's a question for all you party-planners out there: What do kids want to get out of this party? What do they expect? Well, I've interviewed a group of kids from ages 6-12, and I have a few answers for you!
I asked kids three questions: 1) do you like birthday parties? 2) what was your favorite birthday party? 3) what will you do for your next birthday party? Here are their answers:
"I hate birthday parties… unless they have a pinata! But not with the cheap candy they sell right under the pinata. They have to have the good stuff you actually want to eat. Walk your butt over to the good candy aisle and get some real candy! I love beating pinatas."
-- Kelly, age 12
"My favorite birthday party was Batman's party because people brought me Batman toys to go with my Batman's party! My next birthday is gonna be a turtle party and it's going to be great."
-- Jericho, age 9
"This year I didn't have a party. I went to Taylor Swift instead! Both are amazing and I'm not sure if I'll pick Taylor Swift or a birthday party next year…"
-- Liberty, age 11
"Last time we did a Ben Lomond swimming pool birthday party, because I love swimming. This year, I want Red Versus Blue cosplay on trampolines! I like birthday parties… so many reasons I don't even know where to start. I get to see friends i haven't seen in a long time."
--Gabriella, age 12
"What was your favorite birthday party? When I was seven. What did you do? I forgot. What do you want to do this year for your birthday? I don't know. Do you like birthday parties? Yeah. What's your favorite part? I don't know."
--Samuel, age 10
"My favorite birthday was the one I had the last year. It was a swimming birthday party. I loved it cuz I got to spend time with my friends that I haven't saw in a long time, and that we had lots of pizza. Next year I'm thinking we could probably go to Lagoon for my birthday party. I like parties cuz I get to see my friends, and have fun, and cake I guess."
--Tirsa, age 11
"Well, the one where we goed swimming was the funnest. I was thinking I want to invite my friends over to a party to my house and play. I like parties cuz it celebrates me."
--Candice, age 7
"Sometimes I like birthdays because it's always with my friends. But sometimes no because it's not fun. My favorite birthday was when we rented an inflatable obstacle course and slide. I had all my friends over, lots of friends! Next year, I want another inflatable and a pinata!"
--Bryce, age 9
"I like to go to parties because I get to hang out with friends and watch them open their presents. I like having fun with my friends! My best birthday was at Get Air! There was so much cool stuff to with my friends when every I wanted and I could do whatever I wanted to do."
--Aidan, age 12
So, when you're stressing about party planning, just remember that kids don't focus on the details that you do. They want fun, friends, cake, and an (apparently essential) pinata.
By Trixie Trampoline
If you've ever visited a trampoline park, you've probably had to drop a couple bucks on special "jump" socks. You were probably assured that these socks were reusable, and a good investment if you plan to come back. But how else can you re-use them? I myself, being a bit of a forgetful person, somehow end up paying for new socks every time I go, only to find the last pair I bought the next day. Rather than let them go to waste, I decided to find some ways to re-use them. Here's what I found:
- Anyone with Mobility Inhibitions: Everyone who has experienced a mobility inhibiting conditions- be they hip, knee, muscle, or age related- will appreciate a pair of jump socks to add to their daily wardrobe. The grip pattern works on most surfaces, including carpet, wood, and tile, and can help bring stability to even the most wary of steps.
- Toddlers: When young toddlers begin to find their legs and take their first steps, you'll often see them slip and slide on carpets or slick wooden floors. Here's where those toddler- or baby-sized jump socks can come in handy! Just as the grip pattern on the bottom can help stop you from slipping on trampolines, the jump socks can be perfect for helping babies find the confidence in their step.
- Weight Lifters: A solid foundation is fundamental to any weight lifting regimen, be it a one-day-a-week gym routine, or a professional athlete. Though many prefer to lift with shoes, the bare-footed approach is one I've seen many times at the gym. The problem with this approach is that sweaty feet slip and slide… which isn't the best way to start out lifting 200 lbs above your head. Those extra jump socks can be a great solution! They can grip the gym floor even better than my tennis shoes, and can help provide the stability every weightlifter needs.
- Dogs: If you have a house with wooden floors and a love for doggos, you've probably experienced the heart-wrenching scrapes of their little claws across the floor. If you can get your puppers to put them on (and don't get me wrong, that can be a big if with more stubborn dogs), then baby- and toddler-sized jump socks are a great solution! Unlike other doggy socks, the grip pattern can protect your floors without forcing your pet to slip and slide across the house.
By Trixie Trampoline
October 1st marks the beginning of breast cancer awareness month, a time where organizations like Susan G. Komen work to educate people on the continuing struggle against breast cancer. In the past, I've had the opportunity to participate in fundraising races like the Pretty Muddy 5k in York, England in 2016. This year, I get to participate in an all new Komen event: The More Than Pink Walk. In preparation for this exciting event, I decided I wanted to make the team some iconic Komen pink tutus. Believe it or not, these fabulous tutu skirts are super simple to make yourself!
Step One: Buy the materials.
Each tutu is comprised of a 1-inch wide elastic waistband and 4 rolls of 6 inch wide tulle. (It takes 3-4 rolls for one knee length tutu, and 7-8 rolls for a floor-length tutu) You'll also need thread and a sewing machine.
Step Two: The Waistband.
To start, measure the waist of the intended tutu wearer. You'll want to add an extra half inch for sewing. Cut the i-inch wide elastic to size, then overlap the ends and sew the two ends together to make a band.
Step Three: The Tulle.
Once you have the waistband, it's time to prepare the tulle. You'll want to cut each strip of tulle at double the length that you want the end result of your tutu to be. For example, if you want a tutu to reach the knee, measure from the waist to the knee to the waist, and cut. You'll want to do this carefully, so your tutu length is consistent.
Step Four: Construction.
For the sturdiest tutu, sew the strips of tulle around the elastic band. Do this one at a time, by folding the length of tulle over the elastic.
Pinch the tulle to keep it around the elastic -- making sure before you sew that the ends of the tool are even -- and sew along the base of the elastic, to form a loop of tulle with the elastic inside.
Gather the six inch wide tool into a section at least one inch wide to create volume. Repeat until you have sewn on the strips from all 4 rolls of tulle, or until the tutu is satisfactorily pouffy.
No-Sew Alternative: If you don't have a sewing machine, or if you'd just rather not sew, you can tie the tulle around the elastic band. To perform a sturdy knot, keep the tulle folded in half. Put the folded edge of the tulle around the elastic band and pull the tail of the tulle up and through the loop. This will give you a clean edge around the waistband. Just remember, if you don't sew your tutu, the tulle is much more likely to slip off or come untied.
Now all there is to do is enjoy the pink, pouffy fun!
By Trixie Trampoline
Did you know that jumping rope or bouncing on a trampoline for 10 minutes can burn around 100 calories? That's some seriously intense exercise. In fact, you'd have to run six miles to get that kind of calorie burn! That's the same hourly calorie burn Michael Phelps gets in the pool, or Lance Armstrong gets for an hour of cycling at 15 mph. Unlike running, the bouncy trampoline surface helps absorb some of the impact on your joints and helps provide the exercise without the impact. But jumping isn't just good for weight loss. In fact, jumping exercises can have some serious health benefits, not just for mom, but for your kids.
I know kids can get crazy if left unsupervised on a trampoline, so if you aren't comfortable with having a trampoline in your backyard, take your little ones to an indoor trampoline park. There will be employees to help keep an eye on your little ones so you can worry just a little less. Still hesitant? Here are five reasons you should give your kids some consistent jump time:
- Build Leg Strength. Children, especially those under 12, are constantly growing and developing their muscles. Jumping on a trampoline can tone their leg muscles and help build up their endurance, as well as giving your kids the benefit of muscular limbs early-on. Plus, little ones with strong legs are less likely to complain half way through a family hike, or a long shopping trip!
- Cardio-Pulmonary Health. The heart and lungs are the organs that power our bodies, and with such a troubling obesity rate facing American kids, I know you worry about keeping your kids healthy. Trampoline-ing is a great way to get your kids the cardio they need! Cardio is exercise where your heart rate exceeds about 150 beats per minute, and it's important for general health: The American Heart association recommends at least 20 minutes of cardio three days a week. Jumping for an hour can get their blood pumping and their hearts racing, and consistent bouncing will help build up lung endurance and keep kids' hearts healthy.
- Socialization Skills. Children who are shy, withdrawn, or inactive hate to be pushed towards other kids. Try an indoor trampoline park. They provide a fun, safe place for kids to socialize. It's such a naturally fun activity, your child might just bounce right out of their shell without feeling self-conscious around other kids.
- Flexibility and Body Awareness. You've probably seen your child go through an awkward growth spurt where their arms are suddenly too long for them to know what to do with themself. Rebounding off rubber is a gentle way for children to learn control, through flexing muscles, flailing limbs, and landing. Splits, tumbles, rolls, and kicks also stretch muscles, which helps your kids regain the flexibility they begin to lose during growth spurts, as well as helping kids gain control over their ever-changing bodies, improving coordination, flexibility, dexterity, balance, rhythm, timing, and even confidence.
- Relaxed Lymphatic System. The lymphatic system is responsible for cleaning toxins from your blood. Believe it or not, jumping actually improves the health of your kids' lymphatic systems. The up-and-down motion helps blood pump and releases toxins, which will result in less stress and anxiety as well as reducing your child's chance of swollen lymphs.
By Trixie Trampoline
Getting ready to plan an autumn birthday party and worried about the weather? I get it. Do you dare to plan an outdoor party when autumn showers could ruin the day? Do you dare to stuff 20 kids into your living room and hope no one brings a cold? It's certainly a risky, often unpredictable season. So, I've put together some party suggestions that your kids will enjoy rain, chill, or shine!
1. Corn Maze Party. Corn mazes have always been an intrinsic part of the fall season for my family. Whether it's a chilly day-time maze with hayrides and pumpkins, or a spooky maze themed for Halloween, planning a trip to a corn maze can be a great party venue. Make it a race by timing maze-goers, or by seeing who makes it to the end fastest 2 out of 3 times. Bring prizes (like gift cards, candy, or small toys) for the winners, in addition to your party favors.
2. Leaf Diving Party. This party will take some forethought and prep, but it is definitely worth it! Over the weeks before the party, rake the fallen leaves into bags, and keep them outside. If you haven't got your own tree, offer to rake leaves for all your neighbors, and you'll soon have a vast collection of leaves for your party. Pile the leaves into a massive mound, and let the kids go at it. Its simplicity is its genius. Kids will love leaf fights, burying each other in leaves, hiding in leaf piles, and whatever other games their imaginations find in the leaves.
3. Pumpkin Picking Party. Did you ever see a misshapen pumpkin whose stem reminded you of a witch's nose? Or a pumpkin with a boil that looked like a man's funny nose? Take a group of kids to a large pumpkin patch, and send them on a pumpkin hunt. Tell them to find a pumpkin that reminds them of something -- a halloween monster, a pet, or a person would all work. Kids will love finding their perfect pumpkin. Take the pumpkins to a park, or back home, and let the kids paint their pumpkins, and bring their imaginative ideas to life!
4. Apple Party. The delicious red fruit is a fall staple, and it can turn any birthday party into a fall extravaganza. Bobbing for apples, apple carving, apple pie making, apple tosses, caramel apple decorating, or even apples to apples will give your party a uniquely autumnal touch.
5. Magical Harry Potter Party. Fall is the perfect time to bring this classic to life for your child's birthday party. Whether you're celebrating Harry's birthday with your child's on July 31st, having the welcome feast on September 1st, or enjoying the Halloween magic of October, Harry Potter themed decorations and games will bring some autumn magic to any party. Decorate your house table with hanging candles (all you need are toilet paper or paper towel tubes, hot glue, fishing line, and tealight candles), offer house points for winning games, make butterbeer, and attempt to play some muggle quidditch (https://www.usquidditch.org/about/rules/), just remember to tell the kids the house elves aren't on duty and they need to clean up their own mess!
6. Petting Zoo Party. For your animal-loving youngsters, consider a trip to a local farm or petting zoo for their birthday. Bedecked in plaid or gingham, kids will love feeding the animals and getting up close to new furry friends. Pack a picnic if the weather is good, and finish the afternoon with hot chocolate and cookies.
7. Jump Party. If you're worried about the weather or have a particularly energetic bunch, consider choosing a jump party at a local trampoline park. Ninja obstacles courses, dodgeball, basketball, and trampoline floors will make sure everyone has a blast, and all you have to do is show up on the day of your party and enjoy!
8. Pie Party. Pies of all sorts are a time-honored fall tradition, and have been for centuries. In my family, we favor the sweet, creamy deliciousness of pumpkin pie, and it has become a birthday favorite for my November baby. Prepare crusts and fillings with guests (or beforehand if your children aren't as hands-on as mine) and let the kids create their own pie creations -- full-sized, individual muffin-sized, or turnovers. While they bake, pie-eating competitions are unbeatable (and delicious) fun. Whether your guests are gobbling down whipped cream, pudding, or slices of pumpkin pie, the kids will fill their tummies and have an amazing time.
9. Oktoberfest. Though an adult's mind goes straight to beer, Oktoberfest is a German tradition that can easily inspire a children's birthday party. Spiced apple cider, bratwurst, breads, pretzels, gingerbread, and kuchen (cake) of all kinds can grace your table to make an Oktoberfest feast. Try traditional games like a kazoo march, a yodeling contest, pretzel-making, or a barrel roll. Play German music and play musical chairs, have a brat eating contest, and hold a costume contest for the best lederhosen! Kids will have a blast at this unique party.
10. Costume Party. October is an ideal time for a costume party, but all of fall is free game for costume-loving kiddos. Throwing a costume party brings whimsy and excitement to any party, and it gives kids the chance to get some extra use from their halloween costumes. A costume contest is a great activity, as are many classic party games, from pin the mask on the superhero to pinatas.
By Trixie Trampoline
If you're anything like me, birthday celebrations are a big to-do. In fact, I'm a bit of a birthday fanatic. I once stuffed my sister's car with 200 balloons and covered it in streamers. I once packed my best friend's dorm-room so full with confetti-filled balloons and walls of streamers that when she opened the door they came sliding out at her. I once turned our front porch into a gloomy, spooky black tunnel so my five-year-old could have the coolest bat-cave entrance ever for his batman party. Let's just say, I know the kind of planning that an amazing birthday party takes.
This is where my organizational skills come in handy. I've put together a checklist that will get you from the party-planning to the decorating so your parties can be amazing!
The Month Before:
You know it's coming. Don't leave things until the last minute! When that month mark approaches, the planning phase begins.
- Choose a Theme. The theme is the cornerstone for every aspect of this birthday celebration. It doesn't have to be complicated - it could be the color blue.
- Set a Budget. This is the one I'm the worst at. I get so excited and I want everything to be perfect, so I almost always overspend. But, when I write down everything I need to buy and set a strict budget, I definitely do better, and so will you!
- Make/Buy Invitations. I love sending out invitations that fit with the theme. For our Hogwarts halloween party, we sent out Hogwarts letters. For the aforementioned batman party, we sent out the bat signal. Whether homemade or purchased pre-made, invitations set the tone for your party.
- Figure Out the Guest List. The number and age of guests will be a big part of planning - ten 5 year olds versus fifty 16 year olds are two very different budgets, and two very different parties. Once you know your guest list, you'll have a good start for the next level of planning.
- Book Extras. If you're going to book a separate venue, entertainment, or a photographer, book those now. I've always been a backyard kinda birthday planner, but if you prefer to have any of these extras at your party, you'll want to book them with plenty of time.
Three Weeks to Go:
We're a little closer now, but you've already figured out the basics of your party. Here comes the fun part!
- Send the Invitations. Don't forget this. You want to give your guests a heads-up, and three weeks should be close enough to the party that they won't forget, but far enough out that they shouldn't have much planned on the chosen date.
- Choose the Party Activities. Games and activities can make or break a party. Theme-appropriate games really help to tie things together! Classic party games are easily transformed to suit any theme; for example, pin the tail on the donkey can easily become pin the mask on the hero, pin the tail on the dragon, or pin the crown on the princess. I like to have at least three party games, but usually the more the better. A two hour kids party can burn through almost 10 party games in my experience, especially if the guest list is only a few little ones.
- Plan the Menu. It can be tempting to wait until the day of and buy some easy party trays from the nearest grocery store. But party food is so much more fun when it's tied into the theme. Try to think of three or four foods that can be theme-ized! Consider doing some sort of "bar," as they are interactive and become an extra activity. Sugar cookie decorating is one of my favorites, since you can shape the cookie to any theme and let the kids do the decorating.
- Decide on Decorations. We're a big fan of streamers at my house. Every birthday, no matter the theme, has walls of streamers over every door, twisting chandeliers on every ceiling, and streamers decorating the party entrance. It's simple, and it's fun, and from there all you need are some table decorations!
Just Two More Weeks:
Now it's go time. This is the week where the prep phase shifts from the theoretical to the physical. This is the week I like to gather supplies, especially decorations and games, since it can take time to make/find the right ones.
- Make a Grocery list. You've already decided on the menu, so the hard part is done. Make sure you've got a thorough list of all the ingredients you'll need.
- Buy/Make Decorations. Make a list of all the things you'll need, and get them. Whether you're making custom decorations yourself, or buying them, this is the week to get it done. Take the week to gather/make all the little details that will bring your theme to life. Don't forget the balloons and streamers!
- Get the Games. Finding theme-appropriate party games can be hard, so don't be afraid to make them yourself. The kids will love them whether they're printed or hand-drawn, so just let your creativity flow. If you can buy them, this is the week to do it.
- Order the Cake. Cake-making is one of my favorite parts of party-planning, but if you prefer to have a cake made, order it now.
Only One Week Left!:
This is the week where it starts to come together. You can focus on smaller details because you managed the big stuff last week.
- Call Guests that Haven't RSVP'd. Guests should have gotten their invitations, but if they haven't RSVP'd yet, it's a good idea to give them a courtesy call. You don't want to buy food for 20 and have 5 show up, nor do you want to have 20 guests and have food to feed 5.
- Get the Party Supplies. Buy the plates, napkins, cups, cutlery, cake candles, or any other supplies you'll need for the day.
- Buy Non-Perishable Food and Candy. Check that shopping list. If you've got a large list, it's a good idea to buy any non-perishable items with several days to go. This way, you won't have to scramble with a long shopping trip just before the party.
- Birthday Child's Clothes. Whether they're wearing a costume or a nice new outfit, it's a good idea to get it about a week before the party.
T-Minus Three Days:
It's getting close, but don't panic! You've got this handled, and most of the work is done. Now is the time to handle last minute details.
- Finish that Shopping List. You've bought your non-food supplies and your non-perishables. Now is the time to get everything else on that shopping list. You want to have everything ready when it's time to prepare the food.
- Confirm Bookings. If you booked a photographer, entertainer, or venue, don't forget to confirm them a few days before. You don't want to end up without them on the day of.
- Double-Check Lists. Go back over your plans for decorations, activities, and food. Make sure you've got everything done!
Two More Days:
This day is the calm before the storm. Don't let it fool you, your life is about to get busy!
- Start the Cake. If you're making it yourself, this is the day you bake the actual cake. Start it in the evening and let it cool completely overnight.
The Day Before:
This day is always busier than the actual party! The list is long, but don't get intimidated. I always enjoy watching the details come together, and hopefully you will too.
- Decorate the Cake. If you're making the cake yourself, the cake you baked last night is nice and cool. Make the frosting and decorations and decorate the cake. If you've purchased a cake, pick it up today.
- Get the Camera Ready. If you're taking your own pictures, clear the camera card and make sure the batteries are charged!
- Start Food Prep. If you're making those sugar cookies for your themed bar, you'll want to get the dough ready now. This is also the time to prepare any other foods that need time to cook, or that can be prepared the night before.
- Start Set-Up. If weather permits, start getting set up. Don't put out games or decorations, but if you're using tables, chairs, or other heavy items, get them set out now so you don't wear yourself out with this tomorrow.
- Clean Up. We both know you're going to be re-cleaning the house tomorrow, but I like to do a deep clean the night before a party. That way clean-up is quicker the day of, and I feel like the house is presentable.
- Pack Up. If you're going to a venue that isn't your house, get everything together. Pack what you can into your car (obviously food can wait). This way, you'll be ready and won't forget anything last-minute.
The day of the party can go pretty smoothly if you've managed to follow the checklist up to this point. It's all about setting out everything you've already prepared. If not, it can be hectic, but don't worry!
- Make the Food. If you've bought food or ordered catering, it's just a matter of setting up the food table. If you prefer, like myself, to home-make an array of themed foods and treats, then the morning of the party is taken up mostly with cooking and baking.
- Quick Tidy. Don't forget to do a quick clean-up before your guests arrive. It's definitely not a requirement, but I always feel better knowing guests aren't going to trip on a lego or step in something sticky.
- Decorate! I won't lie, this is my absolute favorite part of any birthday. Set aside a good hour, if not two, to decorate.
- Set up Food Table. The food table is a family tradition, we just stick everything in one corner and let people eat as they will. It's also a great way to get decorations in the room.
- Set up Games. If you're only doing games at specific times, make sure you've got everything ready and close-at-hand. Otherwise, set up games around the yard or venue.
- Get Ready. Get the birthday child dressed and ready, and make sure the rest of the family is dressed.
Last but not least:
Enjoy the Party! Birthdays are great because they bring so much joy! They can also be stressful when you want things to be perfect. Don't forget that it's meant to be fun, and try not to let the anxiety overwhelm you.
By Trixie Trampoline
Balance is a crucial skill - and not just for slack-lining, tight-rope walking, and balance beams. It's a key part of all of our movements; everything from walking and standing to exercising, dancing, and other activities. More importantly, our balance is "use it or lose it," and if we don't carefully develop our balance as adults, we could be at risk for falls and injuries as we become elderly.
How can you improve your balance? Well, our balance is a result of muscle groups all over our bodies, and strengthening these three muscle groups will help improve our balance: First, our abdominal muscles, especially our obliques; Second, our glutes; Third, our legs muscles, particularly our hamstrings and quads. Don't worry about full-body workouts or hours on exercise machines! There's a better, funner way to improve your balance: jumping exercises.
Find your local trampoline park if you don't have a trampoline at home. These three trampoline exercises can help to improve your balance while being so much fun you don't even realize you're working out!
1. Jump Around on One Foot. It may sound really simple, but jumping on one foot (remember to control your leg when you land - no wobbling!) uses a lot of balance. Doing so on a trampoline makes it twice as hard - and twice as fun. Jump up and land with one foot, using your foot and not your knee to start the jump (keep your knee straight while you do this exercise). This will work out all three muscle groups, and strengthen your balance with one easy motion. Don't forget to switch sides, and try to make sure you jump on each leg equally.
2. Froggy Jumps. A frog jump is a ballet exercise that's great for balance. While you're jumping around on the trampoline, put your feet into a plie position and jump, bringing your feet up to your bum and pointing your knees outward over your feet (keep your feet in that plie position while you jump). This jump takes a lot of effort, but your kids will love watching you jump around like a frog!
3. Box Jumps. A box jump is a controlled, four step jump. Keep your legs straight, and use your feet to propel you in four directions: straight back, to the left, straight forward, to the right. Make each move with two jumps: first, bounce in place, then make your move. Control your stomach (keep your body straight while you jump), and trace a box while you jump yourself in a square.
By Trixie Trampoline
Here's a bonus: If you're at an indoor trampoline park with an obstacle course, see if they have bosu balls! Jumping, walking, and even standing on bosu balls are another great way to improve leg and core strength.
Cardio isn't just a fad, it's an important part of general health. The American Heart Association recommends 25 minutes of vigorous activity 3 days a week for overall cardiovascular health. But let's face it: not all of us are runners or long-distance bikers. Don't despair! Cardio doesn't have to be a miserable chore. Here are some out-of-the-box exercises that improve your heart health without inducing dread.
- 1. Hula-Hooping. You probably haven't done this since you were a small child, but you'll figure it out. Moving your hips fast enough to keep the hoop aloft gets your blood pumping and your heart working at a fast enough rate to qualify as vigorous exercise. Grab your little ones and turn it into a party or a hula-hooping contest, and the whole family can get their daily cardio in.
- 2. Jump-Rope. This high-intensity playground game isn't just for kids. The quick foot movements and whole-body jumping is great for everyone's health. Jumping rope, be it single or double-dutch, is a fun, fast cardio workout that the whole family can enjoy.
- 2. Boxing. Boxing at a professional level can be intimidating, but, believe it or not, short boxing sessions are amazing cardio. Even shadow-boxing (an equipment-free workout where you perform the combinations of punches at the air instead of at a punching bag or an opponent) will get your heartrate up in no time. Plus, boxing comes with the added bonus of feeling powerful with every punch!
- 3. Sports. Whether you're playing pick-up games with friends, part of an adult league, or playing in the yard with your kids, sports -- like soccer, ultimate frisbee, flag-football, or kickball -- are easy ways to get in your cardio while having fun with your kids or friends.
- 4. Dancing. If you've ever been to a hoedown, you'll know that even one dance can work up a sweat. Be it the stomp of a line dance, the whirl of a country dance, or the footwork of ballroom dancing, it's a great way to get in a workout everyone will enjoy.
- 5. Trampoline-ing. You might think that a trampoline does a lot of the work for you, but you'd be wrong. Jumping on a trampoline works muscles all over your body, and is a super fun way to get in a cardio workout. Don't have a trampoline in your backyard? Indoor trampoline parks are a great place to get in a fun workout! Running, jumping, flipping, and bouncing are all easy cardio, and you're sure to have a jumping good time.
By Trixie Trampoline
It's that time of year where the sunshine stretches later and later, interrupting our carefully kept bedtimes and making our kids' sleep schedules non-existent. It's a struggle to get kids to bed when the sky is still awake, but they need their sleep more than ever! In fact, the National Sleep Foundation recommends children aged 6 to 13 need between nine and eleven hours of sleep per night. It may seem like an impossible task, but I've put together some easy tips to help get those kids to sleep.
- 1. Sleepy Environment. Kids need their routines, and when the sun gives them the impression that you're putting them to bed early, you have to do your best to black out the sun. Blackout curtains are a great way to take your children from day to night with the drawing of a curtain. The sound of neighbors playing, fireworks, or night games can be drowned out by the soft sounds of a white noise machine. If you're wondering what white noise is, in simple terms it's a specific sound frequency that blocks out ambient noise. When used to promote healthy sleep, it has been shown to block out sounds that make it difficult to fall asleep, and might interrupt sleep. These, in addition to your regular bedtime routine, can help your children get some sleep!
- 2. Go Tech-Free. Too much technology (especially video games) before bed can result in sleep deprivation. Children who spend more than 150 minutes being stimulated by technology at night will experience a delay of almost 40 minutes in falling asleep! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents shut off screens after 7 pm, to give your kids' brains time to unwind from the stimulation. Turning off screens and winding down with books or imagination games will help your kids fall asleep faster and sleep better.
- 3. Keep it Cool. Did you know that our sleep patterns respond to temperature as much as light and sound? Kids can have trouble falling asleep in summer if their bedrooms are too warm. Consider cranking up the AC when it gets close to bedtime. Put your little ones in light cotton jammies instead of the full-footsie pajamas they favor in winter, tuck them in with light blankets instead of a heavy duvet, or put a fan in the room. A cooler room will help your kids slip into a deeper sleep.
- 4. Help Your Kids Relax. Kids, like the rest of us, can start to run their stressors through their heads as their minds try to settle for bedtime. When cortisol, our stress hormone, is triggered at night, it results in trouble sleeping. A great way to lower cortisol levels before bed is to include a short "relaxation time" in your kids' bedtime routine. This could be a bedtime journal, a stuffed animal kids tell all their troubles to, or an honest conversation with mom and dad. Research groups, including the Seattle Children's Hospital Research Foundation, recommend relaxation techniques such as performing deep, slow abdominal breaths or imagining positive scenes like being on a beach to help a child relax. Addressing their stress before bed will relieve anxiety and improve your child's sleep.
- 5. Wear Them Out With Physical Activity. Getting your kids to exercise in the summer heat might sound difficult, but it's as easy as a trip to an indoor trampoline park. An hour or two of jumping helps relieve pent-up energy, as well as increasing cardiovascular health and leg strength. Kids will love the freedom of jumping across a floor of trampolines, and when they're finished, they're sure to fall into bed. Just remember to stop play three hours before bed, or the kids might be too wired to fall asleep.
By Trixie Trampoline