Summer Slides & Slumps: Keep Our Bodies Active
June 24, 2022
by Kelly McCandless
By now parents across Montana’s Trailhead are slipping into the routines of summer…or at least getting close. Adjusting to full days with school-aged children around means caregivers get creative in how to - not just pass the time - but create memories and maybe even sneak in a little bit of growth.
Despite the generally nicer weather, the long days with fewer demands on our time can actually result in more couch potato time. Tablets, video games, television, movie days and even screen-free activities can result in a lot of sitting. But, just as it’s important to keep our kids’ minds active through the summer, keeping their bodies active is just as important. And, with all the pressure to create some fun, a little inspiration can go a long way. Here are a few ideas to help you beat the slump and keep kiddos moving through the summer.
1. Water. I credit my grandmother with reminding me how a little water can create a lot of magic for kids of all ages. From a sprinkler or even just a hose, to a simple bucket of water and some cups and spoons, imagination sparks. I recently watched my kids voluntarily add bubbles to their buckets and create little bathtubs for their toys – all on their own. My only regret is I didn’t suggest they wash my car – which could also be a fun way to get bodies moving while also helping out around the house!
2. Trails. Billings has miles and miles of trails all over the city. It’s likely you can find one near your house – check out a map of them courtesy of Billings TrailNet. Ride bikes, scooters, skateboards, hoverboards, roller blades (or skates if you’re a bit old school like me), or just lace up your trusty ol’ sneakers and enjoy a little movement while exploring the outdoors.
3. Go Noodle. This one was a lifesaver in my house during the pandemic shutdowns. Go Noodle is a free resource with tons of fun activities for kids, most centered around movement. From mindfulness to silly dances, Go Noodle is a great way to stay active even when the temps are too hot, or we’re stuck inside thanks to rain.
4. Parks. Billings has an abundance of parks. Seriously. There are 53 of them throughout the Magic City, with a majority offering equipment for kids to play with. Whittle the list down a bit more, and you’ll find eight with spray pads and/or wading pools, two pools, and even a few water slides. And, Billings Parks and Recreation has a cool newly designed website to help you find the park offering the amenities that fit best for your kiddos. Check it out at https://www.billingsparks.org/parks-trails/.
Billings Parks: Programs, Preservation, and Growth
Did you know, Billings Parks & Rec keeps up with two dog parks, 2,700 acres of park land (roughly half developed and half undeveloped), 38 playgrounds, 24 shelters, six neighborhood centers, 24 tennis courts, 25 basketball courts, two pools, two spray parks, two wading pools, 50 miles of trails, a cemetery, batting cages, and a golf course?
5. Gardening. This can be a fun way to engage both the mind and the body this summer. Allow your children to help you pick out a few seeds to plant (vegetables, flowers, fruit – whatever feels exciting). Together plant and nurture the seeds over the next several weeks and even months. Weeding, watering, observing, and enjoying all create a fun and interesting way to move and grow.
6. Cleaning. Ok, this one will be a harder sell, I admit. But I can’t be the only one with a boatload of projects and regular to-dos I’m behind on. A little more time at home can be a great opportunity to recruit some help to tackle the list while making it interesting! Sweep the garage while wearing roller blades or using the skateboard. Mop the floor with some sponges tied around bare feet. (Carefully! Wear helmets in case things get wild!) Encourage little ones to pretend to be different animals while helping to dust or wash windows.
When all else fails, some simple standbys can help you through: playing tag or hide and go seek, strolling around the neighborhood, dance parties, sidewalk chalk, blowing and chasing bubbles… the list goes on. Be intentional, participate with the kiddos, and when everyone is grumpy about getting active, just remember: you can change the WiFi password and share it after everyone cooperates.
Kelly McCandless is a Billings native who loves a well-planned adventure, being outdoors when the weather is nice, historic fiction and hot coffee. She’s passionate about writing, cooking, education, travel and doing all of these things with her husband Ryan and their two incredible daughters