How to get your teens moving: Hoodwink or clever parenting?

Think about how much you and your kids are active in relation to how much you sit.  Humans were not made to sit, they were made to move. Muscles need to be worked, blood needs to be circulated, lungs challenged and bones to bear weight.

Girl walking with dog in nature.

Being active is the single best prescription a doctor could give.  It guards against chronic disease, elevates mood and keeps the body operating like a finely tuned machine.

Let’s compare the body to a car.

If you don’t change its oil (eat well), take it for tune-ups (be active) and regularly check the tire pressure (see your doctor for health checks), its performance becomes inefficient (high blood pressure/heart rate/sugar and fat levels), sluggish (tired and trouble sleeping) and ends up in the shop (hospital).

We don’t need to join a gym, a team or get a personal trainer.  All we have to do is move more.

Here’s how I trick my teenage daughter and stepson into moving more, when they would much rather be texting with friends or playing video games:

  1. This is going to sound really bad, but I text my daughter from downstairs and ask her to come down. This avoids me yelling or travelling up the stairs and instead she gets off the bed or the chaise lounge in her room and moves. I might do this a few times in the evening, over a couple of hours.
  2. I ask them to take the dog, which they wanted sooo much and love sooo much, for a walk. (Warning: my stepson got wise and started running the dog around the block, so he could get back to his computer faster!)
  3. I ask them to strip their beds and carry the sheets to the washing machine in the basement. Then I ask them to come to the basement to pick up the clean clothes and bed sheets to bring back to their rooms.
  4. My daughter helps me remake her bed, although she just turned 16, so the new rule is she is now in charge of her own laundry and that includes sheets and towels. My stepson is next!
  5. Boy reaching into fridgeSome nights I tell them they are on their own for dinner, so they have to make it. (Warning: this may increase your grocery bill. My daughter discovered meal prepping on Pinterest, which resulted in the both of us getting sucked in and doing a separate grocery shop and purchase of specific containers.)
  6. They make their own lunches for school and have been since they turned ten. (Warning: my stepson would open the fridge, look in and say he didn’t know what to make. I tell him to think about it, something will come to him.)
  7. I pay my daughter to clean out the interior of my car – this takes about an hour – she moves really slow.
  8. I ask them to set the table before dinner and then to help clean up after dinner. This includes loading the dishwasher, wiping the island and putting items back in the fridge.
  9. One day I turned off the Wi-Fi and waited, one by one they emerged from their caves saying the Wi-Fi was off. I said, “I know.” (Warning: make sure you know how to turn on and off properly – as I didn’t and we didn’t have Wi-Fi for three days – oh well!)
  10. I bought my daughter a gym membership at my gym and take her with me. (Warning: they may like it and start asking you to go with them.)

So, I think you get the idea.  I intentionally interrupt their sitting time.  My own rule of thumb is to get up every hour and do something standing or moving.  My husband thinks I have a nervous twitch, but, for me it is about pumping the blood and using the muscles.

In addition to getting my kids to move I am also teaching them important life skills.

Oh; I just remembered one more – we have a landline and two portable phones upstairs.  I remove them and bring them downstairs and then call them down to speak to their grandmother – sneaky huh? 🙂

Got any more tricks and tips to getting your tweens and teens moving? Share them with us:

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About this guest blogger:

Jennifer Jenkins-Scott: I have been a health professional for 34 years, but more importantly a mother for the last 16. When I am not ‘on-the-job’, I can be found at Mohawk College working towards my certificate in Interior Decorating, on the bike trails, in the gym, skiing, crafting, entertaining or at home either reading a good book or binge watching Netflix.

Posted in Parenting, Physical Health, School-aged Children, Teens, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 awesome things I discovered about being a divorced parent

Mother, daughter and dog relaxed at homeQuite often we hear about how hard it is to be a divorced parent, and it can be, but there are perks too!

When I think back to when my daughter and I were on our own, I have very fond memories.  This is before I married my current husband, so she was between 18 months to seven years old.

Here are 5 AWESOME things I discovered along the way:

  1. I remember enjoying her all to myself, just the two of us, for several days in a row.
  2. I made all the decisions in the house. No one else to check-in with (except of course, my daughter) about what we wanted to do or where we wanted to go.
  3. After a long work week, she and I started a Friday tradition of pizza and movie night. We would spend time in the movie-rental store (I’m dating myself now!) looking for the right movie to rent.  I was able to watch the entire collection of Disney princess movies while snuggled up with her.
  4. Every night, in the middle of the night, she would make her way into my room and crawl into my bed. I pretended to be asleep, but she would fill the empty space beside me and wrap her small arm around my side.
  5. In an effort to help her with learning the joys of reading, I read the entire Spiderwick Chronicles to her, in an English accent (just to add effect). We had a goal of finishing the book before the movie was in theatres. She and I then went to the movie and talked about whether it was true to the book. She still has the book in her collection, despite the shedding of many other childhood books.

These precious moments allowed me to create love and security for my daughter. Today, she is a teenager and it is hard to get her attention. This is normal and what I would expect. But the strong and loving relationship which was built in her childhood, created a young lady who feels comfortable in her own skin, yet knows she can always find support without judgement from her mom.  I will always cherish these memories of just the two of us alone, but always together.

Share with us some of the awesome things you’ve discovered about being a divorced parent!

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About this guest blogger:

Jennifer Jenkins-Scott: I have been a health professional for 34 years, but more importantly a mother for the last 16. When I am not ‘on-the-job’, I can be found at Mohawk College working towards my certificate in Interior Decorating, on the bike trails, in the gym, skiing, crafting, entertaining or at home either reading a good book or binge watching Netflix.

Posted in Babies, Mental Health, Parenting, School-aged Children, Teens, Toddlers, Tweens | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

It is possible! Tips for traveling with kids who have special needs

Cute little kid boy with suitcase on international airport. Mother and daughter on background, happy family waiting for flight and going on vacations.With the school break coming up fast, many families are preparing to travel. When you have a child with special needs, or even a child who struggles with transitions, you know there’s more to consider than just packing clothes for everyone. We connected with child development professional, Bev Legare, about the best tips for traveling with a child who has special needs. Bev has spent hours and hours with families helping them plan their family travels and vacations.

Here are the best travel tips she has learned along the way: Continue reading

Posted in Mental Health, Parenting, preschoolers, Safety, School-aged Children, Special Needs, Teens, Toddlers, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to be your child’s best advocate

Concerned couple with child talking to a professional

You think your child is unwell or may have a developmental delay, or a learning disability – but you’re having difficulty navigating the system to get a diagnosis and a plan. You’re feeling frustrated, worried and scared. Continue reading

Posted in Parenting, Physical Health, preschoolers, School-aged Children, Services, Special Needs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being a healthy divorced mom

When my daughter was 18 months old I made the difficult decision to leave my husband.

I moved to a new city and started over.  We had equal access, but she spent 60% of her time with me or sometimes closer to 80%, as my ex-husband traveled for business.  It was a busy, hectic and stressful time, but also a wonderful time.

Content Mother and daughter blowing bubbles

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Posted in Mental Health, Parenting, Physical Health, stress | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How to help our kids deal with tragic news

Tragic events take place all around the world and many adults are challenged to process what has happened. As adults we know these types of events are extremely rare. We will react in different ways and with a range of different emotions that might vary from sadness to anger to anxiety.

Children on the other hand, do not have the same knowledge, experience or ability to deal with what they are hearing about these events. It can be very scary for them. They may think that it will happen to them or to people they love.

Upset boy sitting at the table and his sister supporting him while having meal with their parents

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Posted in Mental Health, Parenting, Physical Health, preschoolers, School-aged Children, stress, Teens, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The benefits of a healthy smile are more than you think!

On an elementary school ski trip my bestie had her front tooth broken off by a wayward t-bar chair lift. Three things were learned that day and the days that followed; finding a broken tooth in the snow is impossible; exposed nerves don’t like winter air; and while waiting for the tooth to be repaired, my normally chipper (pun intended!) and fun-loving friend did not smile and missed school.

Portrait of Primary Schoolboys and Schoolgirls Standing in a Line in a Classroom

Today I am a public health nurse and a lot of my work involves helping kids meet their potential. Healthy eating, exercise, caring adults and friends all work together to help toward this goal. Oral health is an important part of this and we need to take care to keep a healthy smile. Dental injury or the development of cavities cannot be ignored as our oral health affects overall health and well-being. Continue reading

Posted in kindergarten, Mental Health, Oral Health, Parenting, Physical Health, Preschool, School-aged Children, Teens, Toddlers, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment