My Top Tips for Exercising with Kids

For those of you that may be thinking of exercising with your kids but don’t know where to start, this is a post for you.  As I have mentioned here and here, kids can struggle to meet the minimum requirements for physical activity as recommended by the American Council of Sports Medicine (ACSM), especially as they head toward their teen years.  Current guidelines are as follows:

  • Children and adolescents should accumulate a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity daily as part of transportation, physical education, sport, free play and planned exercise. The activities should be a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity. Moderate intensity is defined as activity that increases breathing, sweating, and heart rate and vigorous intensity substantially increases breathing, sweating, and heart rate.
  • Sedentary activity is a strong contributor to overweight and low physical fitness. Sedentary activities such as television viewing, computer and telephone use, and inactive video games should be limited to < 2 hours per day.

While my kids are pretty active, I know I can be guilty of leaving them on technology for >2 hours per day especially on weekends.  Progress not perfection.  I believe that the first part of the equation is teaching our children to value and enjoy exercise and this is one of the most beneficial things that we can do as a parent, coach or trainer.  Here are my top tips for exercising with children.

  1.  Monkey See Monkey Do – Exercise in front of them.

We can try and teach our kids healthy habits in many ways but at the end of the day they will be watching and learning from the habits of those closest to them. Typically, most of us will head off to the gym or out the door for a run or ride on our own and sometimes the kids don’t get to see us actually exercise.  Trust me, I am all for a bit of time out while exercising but I also think it is important for them to see us huffing and puffing, sweating, and finding it difficult too.  This may mean taking them to the park and doing your workout while they play, taking them for a jog/walk in the pram, letting them scoot or ride beside you while you run, using attachments for bikes to take them along for a ride, or simply putting on a fitness DVD at home while they play.  More often then not I bet they join in.

2.  Variety is the Spice of Life

Mix it up, keep them interested.  Exercise doesn’t always have to mean running 4km, doing lap after lap in the pool, or just training with your sporting teams.  Although all of these activities definitely have a place, participating in a range of different movements has many benefits for kids.  These can include reducing the risk of overuse injuries and providing opportunity to develop a large range of movement skills, therefore increasing their confidence and the likelihood that they will continue to exercise long into the future.  Research shows that children who do not develop these
skills early in life may be less likely to meet or exceed recommendations for daily physical
activity later in life.  So get busy moving with your little ones.  Check out my earlier post on 7 Ways to get the Kids Active and Outdoors for some inspiration, or if you are stuck indoors (because it is nearly 50 degrees celsius outside as in Pannawonica at the moment), one of my children’s favourite games is ‘Just Dance’.  I have attached a YouTube link so you can see what’s involved but you can follow this link to purchase, it even comes as a smart phone app.  Just quietly, it is hilarious watching your kids playing when they don’t know you are looking.  I love it because they drop the ‘too cool’ facade and just boogie!!

You got up and gave it a go didn’t you??  Go on admit it….

3.  Watch out for Overheating

Be mindful that children have a large surface area of skin when compared to their little bodies, as such they are more exposed to heat and are also less efficient at cooling the body down when it does heat up.  Basically, this means try to avoid exercising during the hottest parts of the day, make sure they keep up the fluid intake not just during exercise but also in the lead up to physical activity, they will need more frequent breaks when it is hot, and keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of overheating.  You can read more about it here.

4.  Exercise as a Family – What is good for one is good for all…

Some of our favourite moments have come from being active as a family.

Just get out there and be active.

5.  Strength Training is OK

There is a lot of misconception surrounding strength training and kids but the research supports that it is safe and beneficial when performed correctly.  I found a great article that busts common myths and misconceptions surrounding children and strength training and you can check it out at this link.  My recommendations for introducing kids to strength training are as follows:

  • For the most part, body weight exercises are the perfect introduction to strength training and with all the variations you should be entertained for a long while.
  • Don’t expect perfect technique straight up, it takes time and repetition to develop new skills.  I find that I give them the basics and try not to pick at them the whole session.  As long as they are not unsafe I will cut them a bit of slack, especially in the first few sessions of a new program.
  • Stay with the same program for at least 4-6 weeks.
  • If at all unsure pay for an Exercise Physiologist or qualified health professional to design a program for your family.  You can have peace of mind from anywhere between $60-$120 depending on who you approach.  You may even be able to claim these sessions back through health insurance.
  • Technique, technique, technique.  Children need to master good technique and good body awareness before they even start thinking about introducing weights.
  • Should you decide to introduce weights to a program keep it simple.  Make sure you are very confident in the person instructing your children and the focus must always be on good technique.

Surprisingly kids love boot camp sessions.  We have recently started family boot camp sessions and apart from a couple of spots of whinging here and there, my kids are more than happy to work out .  I think they also know not to waste time trying to get out of it as it doesn’t work with me!  We keep these sessions short and sharp, usually all finished in 30 minutes from start to finish.  Crank out some great tunes and happy days!

6.  It does not always have to be fun.

Shock, horror, I know.  Nearly every article I read is about making sure exercise is fun for kids, blah, blah, blah.  It does have to be enjoyable but that is not where our jobs stop.  I think that if we set kids up with the expectation that exercise and physical activity is always fun I believe we are setting them up for failure.  Instead we should be encouraging them to find the satisfaction and joy in completing something difficult and teaching them how to deal with situations when the going gets tough.

Not everyone will agree with me and that’s OK. Not everyone will understand why I do crazy things such as 4km fun runs with my kids (and expect them to actually try and run it all) or complete boot camp sessions as a family and I am OK with that too.  For me it is simple, how can I possibly ignore four years of university training, nearly 15 years of working in the health industry, a multitude of research articles and my own experience with exercise, when it tells me that staying active is one definite way to increase our chances of living a full and healthy life.  Time will tell, but I am enjoying the journey in the meantime!

 

 

Exploring Karijini in 50 photos or less…

If you visit Western Australia, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to visit not only because of the distances you will need to cover but also because there are so many spectacular places to see.  Karijini National Park, was right up at the top of my list of places that I wanted to visit while living in the Pilbara.  Due to my research and all the pictures I had seen of the gorges at Karijini, I had high expectations going into this trip.  I was a little nervous that the colours wouldn’t quite live up to the pictures or that the gorges wouldn’t be as great as I pictured in my mind.  We had also been told that it would be too hot camping and hiking at Karijini in October and that we needed more than a weekend, but sometimes you just have to stop waiting for everything to be perfect and just do things.  Our reasoning was that nights were still bearable for sleeping, down in the gorges would be cooler, the kids would enjoy swimming in the warmer temperatures of October rather than freeze in July, and three days was better than none.  I am so glad we just did it, it was the perfect weekend with fantastic weather.

IMG_3911

Room with a view – this is why camping is so great.

We used the rail access road from Pannawonica heading towards Tom Price and Karijini.  Just remember that you will need a rail access pass if going this way, carry no alcohol, and the corrugations on this section are pretty rough.  We shredded a tyre on the way home, so beware.  As we were coming from the north western side of Karijini National Park we decided to stop in at Hamersley Gorge on the way through.  This was our first stop and it didn’t disappoint.

HAMERSLEY GORGE

We spent about an hour and a half here before hitting the road again to drive a further 40 minutes to Dales Gorge Campground to set up camp for a couple of nights.  Dales Gorge Campground was a lovely place to stay and was an easy walk to beautiful swimming holes.

DALES CAMPGROUND, FORTESCUE FALLS, and FERN POOL

Our second day of exploring was jam packed as we decided to tackle Hancock Gorge.  This is the home of the very adventurous walks to Kermits Pool and to Handrail Pool.  As there has been several fatalities at Karijini National Park there is always a little debate about the safety of kids on various trails.  For us, I was confident in my kids ability to handle most trails, they have hiked many times before, have good fitness levels, and are aware of the risks surrounding them.  I am not sure on all the details surrounding the fatalities in the area but I found that the trails were well marked, and provided you follow the safety guidelines, quite safe.  As I have mentioned before, I believe that it is important for kids to take calculated risks and where better than in nature’s own wonderland.  The kids loved it.  After the hike to Kermit’s Pool we gave the kids the choice about whether we did another adventurous hike on the same day and they all screamed ‘YES’!  And no whinging all weekend….it must be fun right?

HANCOCK GORGE – KERMIT’S POOL WALK

HANCOCK GORGE – HANDRAIL POOL

After leaving the campground at about 8am, it was about 2pm by the time we finished both trails at Hancock Gorge.  We stopped in at Karijini Eco Resort and were very excited to find that they did coffee and ice creams for the kids.  If you are not quite up for camping, this is a lovely location to do a little bit of ‘glamping’ and still get to explore Karijini.

On our final day of the whirlwind tour of Karijini, we decided to squeeze in a hike to Circular Pool which is also near Dales Gorge Campground.  We wanted to let the kids have a swim before the 5 hour trip home and thought it would be a fairly easy climb similar to the trail down to Fortescue Falls just up the road….slight miscalculation.  This hike was nearly the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Everyone was tired after a busy couple of days, and of course packing up always makes for a few frayed tempers, so when this walk was a little further and steeper than anticipated we nearly lost a few converts.  In saying that, it was still a great walk and if we had more time we would have had a quieter day before tackling this trail.

DALES GORGE – CIRCULAR POOL

We did not see enough of Karijini and will have to plan another trip.  It was such a fantastic weekend away, and we returned with many tired but happy campers.  Photos and words cannot capture the beauty and majesty of Karijini National Park, it is one of those places that you simply must see for yourself.

 

Mothers Day Classic 4km Family Fun Run

As I mentioned previously, this event was merely the icing on the cake on our journey to run 4km as a family.  All the work, the pride, the satisfaction came from training together twice a week, sometimes three times a week, in the lead up to the Mothers Day Classic.  By the time the actual day rolled around it was all about celebrating a job well done.  We decided to make a weekend of it and booked a unit in Dampier, near the beach, where we had a relaxing couple of days playing at the beach, park, and enjoying a dinner out.  The other important part of the weekend was raising awareness and funds for Breast Cancer research.  A big thank you to our family and friends who sponsored Team Campbell and all our efforts. I will let the photos tell the story of our day at the Mothers Day Classic 4km Family Fun Run.

It was a great event to participate in, and it may become a Campbell family tradition.  The husband has been a little forgotten in all this, but his story is also pretty impressive.  My husband would be the first to tell you that he is not the most athletic person but he was quite keen to sign up for this family challenge.  Hubby has never run 4km without stopping…..ever.  The first time he did this was at this event, with three of his boys, holding hands as they crossed the finish line.  Mr Exercise Hitlist was a little emotional, quite chuffed, and it is a moment that he will cherish for a long time to come.  Mission accomplished I say.  Another special mention must go to my eldest child, 8 yrs old, who managed to complete the whole course without stopping.  He wasn’t fast but he stuck to his game plan and just kept plugging away.  This is harder than it looks in this type of event, as there are people everywhere so it is hard to keep a steady pace as you try and weave in and around people.  There were also a lot of children in the event, which was fantastic, but most kids would walk a little, and sprint or jog a little, then walk again.  My younger kids found that hard as they wanted to walk when the others were walking even though they had run much further in training!  They all did a fantastic job, but especially the eldest who was probably one of the only kids to run the whole distance!!  I am beyond proud of my little family.

After returning home from our weekend I asked the kids and hubby what they thought about training, running in this event, and whether they would do it again.

B1 (8yr old) – What did you like the best about training?  Icy poles at the end.  Favourite training moment? When you and I ran that whole 3km.  Did you feel like you could run 4km without stopping at the start?  No way! It was really hard at the start.  What did you feel like when you finished the 4km on race day?  I was really proud of myself, it felt good.  I also felt like I was saving lives.  Would you do it again?  Maybe, not for a while.  I would rather train for a bike race.

B2 (7yr old) – What did you like best about training?  Icy poles.  Favourite training moment?  When we did that really good run all the way to the pool and then we got to have a swim.  What did you feel like when you first started running? I didn’t like it.  My legs hurt and it was hard.   Did it get easier? Yes!  Some days it was awesome.  What did you feel like when you finished the race? Awesome.  Would you do it again??  Yes.

I found this drawing B2 had drawn a few days after the race....I think he had fun right?

I found this drawing a few days after the race….I think he had fun right?  B2 is the one right at the top yelling ‘Weeeee….’

B3 (7yr old) –  What did you like best about training?  Icy poles.  Favourite training moment?  The days off.  What about the 3.5km run?  That was good.  When I ran the 3.5km, I felt like I could keep running and running.  What did you feel like when you first started running?  Sore after the run.  What did you feel like when you finished the race?  Good.  When prompted for something other than ‘good’? I liked that we all ran together.  Would you do it again?  Not really.  I want to do a bike race.

B4 (5yr old) – What did you like best about training?  Icy poles.  Favourite training moment?  When I sucked it up and ran all the way to the shed which was the longest run.  (Just over 2km)  What did you feel like when you first started running?  I didn’t feel like I could do it but I could.  What did you feel like when you finished the race?  Good.  It was my first time to do a race.  Would you do it again? Yes.

Hubby – What did you like best about training?  Icy poles.  Loved the occasional cheer squads from the locals.  The guys waiting for the bus to go to work, and the more sane locals who were sitting outside having a beer.  Also loved the ticker shown by B1, and B3 when they did their breakthrough runs.  It was hard work though and some days I really didn’t feel like doing it.  Favourite training moment?  It was a training run with Team Rangas, which started out shocking, but then they kicked into gear and ended up putting me through my paces.  What did you feel like when you first started running?  I doubted whether I could do it, I wondered whether my knees could do it.  I thought surely this is just a phase and Beth will give it up.  I was surprised when it got easier.  What did you feel like when you finished the race?  I was a bit emotional, I was proud of myself.  I was blowing out holding hands with my boys as we crossed the finish line.  I was really proud of the twins for digging deep, as we mixed up where the finish line was.  They thought we were done but then had to find something extra to run the extra 500m to the actual finish line.  I was really impressed that the eldest finished without stopping, thought he would be the first to stop given the attitude at the start of the race.  Would you do it again?  Yeah I would.  I would love to do a team event with the family.

Me – What did I like the most about the training?  I love the excited chatter when we got home from a run, when they would chat about how far they ran before stopping, how awesome so and so was today, what we should try next time.  All while sucking on their icy poles.  I think this is really why everyone loved the icy poles!!  What was my favourite training moment?  It still has to be the D-Man running the 3.5km, it just clicked that night, he ran so comfortably.  He was just buzzing, and I swear he would have run the loop again if I let him.  Proud mumma moment.  In saying that, all my boys had runs that just made me proud!  What did you feel like when we first started running?  I felt like this was going to be the longest 10 weeks of my life and it would be a miracle if I didn’t have a mass mutiny.  There was a lot of ‘Sometimes things are hard, and it hurts, but you just have to find a way to get it done’, ‘Suck it up princess’, and ‘We just have to get the job done tonight boys’.  There were a lot of runs where I was really proud of them because they gave up at some point, felt like it was too hard, but then managed to regroup and finish off strongly.  What did I feel like when I finished the race?  I stayed with my youngest during the race and he didn’t have the greatest run.  He was a crook with a small cough and a little overwhelmed by it all, so during the race I actually felt a little underwhelmed and not sure I had met my expectations of race day.  Looking back at it all, it was all that I needed it to be and a great family bonding experience.  My youngest wore his medallion for all of the next week, to school and everywhere.  He would have worn it to bed if he could.  Would you do it again?  Absolutely!

Stay tuned for our next adventure, looks like they are all on board to try something else!

Running with Kids and Keeping it Real – Journey to Mothers Day Classic 4km

I haven’t really explained what on earth made me decide to train for and run in the Mothers Day Classic 4km Fun Run with four kids aged 8, 7, 7, and 5.  Initially, I guess I wanted to share the joy I get from setting a goal, working and training hard, and finally completing the task to the best of my ability.  I also wanted them to feel pride in a job well done.  Exercise is one of the best ways to make yourself proud….it lies completely in your hands.  Run a little faster or a little further, lift heavier, work harder, don’t give in, show up, all of these things build a sense of pride, resilience and self confidence.  I wanted to give this to my kids.

My vision was to train regularly as a family and hopefully complete the 4km without stopping.  Along the way I also wanted to convince the boys that they wanted to achieve this as well, not just because I wanted them to do it, but because they wanted to achieve it for themselves.  An impossible task?  Possibly, but give it a go I would.  Here’s where it gets tricky, how to convince the boys that this was not just a cruel and unusual form of torture?  From the start, I was up front with them that this wouldn’t be easy, that sometimes they wouldn’t feel like running but that we were going to commit to training at least 2x per week until the Mothers Day Classic Fun Run in about 10 weeks time.  There are very few sporting activities available in Pannawonica so I also explained that it was a good way keep fit until the football season started and I may have also reminded them of the fun I had doing the Adventurethon last year and wouldn’t they like to be part of something like that?  OK, OK, hard sell but they were quite happy to agree to the terms.

I will be honest the first few runs were far from joyful, happy family bonding times….the kids were whinging about sore legs and being short of breath before the first 100m was completed.  We set targets for where we would run to each stretch and then that was non negotiable, no stopping before we reached our target.  As you can imagine no one felt the same on any given day so negotiating our targets could be quite tricky and were a point of contention that quite often led to tears.  Mum or Dad pulled rank more often than not in the early days or we would have walked the whole distance before we could agree on where we were running to.

IMG_0370

This was our first run – lots of walking, tried to make it interesting by heading out around the truck and past the big drive in screen.

I find it amazing to look back and see where we started, the boys were shocked if I suggested they run more than 200m and yet most runs now are at least 2km before our first walk.  Our pace on the first run was 10.21mins/km for 2.6km whereas our last run together was 7.36mins/km for 3.4km.  It really does blow my mind, we are capable of so much more than we think we can.

There were plenty of tears along this journey but I went in with the knowledge that jogging the distances that we would be doing would not hurt the kids, that endurance would improve, and that putting down the technology and getting outside would be nothing but beneficial.  I often think that as parents, we want to make things easy for our kids and give them everything, but in doing so we are not giving them the tools to survive the curve balls that life will sometimes throw us.  So I didn’t mind them struggling a little with this as I want them to know they can tough things out and get the job done. This may sound a little harsh but it was my gut decision that they weren’t really hurting, just struggling because it was hard initially and they didn’t know how to deal with that.  Besides, I figure my kids cry when I ask them to tidy their rooms or put away the technology at times so I took it with a little grain of salt.  Looking back I would do the same all over again because they got it.  Each time they may have cried, they were able to regroup and they finished the job and were proud of themselves.  When they completed a great training run, they knew they had done something fantastic and their little faces would glow.

It wasn’t all tears, especially after the first few weeks they all quite enjoyed the routine of exercising together.  We initially split up, with Hubby taking Team Chunky Butts and I took Team Rangas, so it was a little easier to encourage and judge how far to go each time.  I loved the chats along the way, I loved when the kids would choose the targets and choose to push that little further, and I loved the end of the run debrief where they would all be trying to tell each other where they went and how far they went today.  Many great moments along the way.

All in all it has been a great experience to do as a family and come race day it really doesn’t matter what happens.

 

Over To You the Weekend Warriors

Over the last three months I have been so inspired by my newsfeed from family, friends, and The Exercise Hitlist followers.  So much so, that I thought I would share some of the photos of all of the fun everyone has been up to.  I have tracked down most of you to ask for permission to share your photos but if I have missed you please feel free to let me know and I can remove them if you so wish!

Pretty impressive isn’t it??  What are you waiting for, get outside and explore!

Helloooo from Pannawonica

Well I am finally back in action after quite a long leave of absence.  What have I been up to?  Let me give you a quick summary of all the things that I have been doing over the last five weeks….

  • We packed up our house and prepared it for rental before flying the 5 hours back east to visit family.
  • My husband and I had a lovely couple of days in Palm Cove, kid free, to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary.Palm Cove Collage
  • Stayed with my sister and had some fun on the Blue Sky Farm
  • Beach Holiday with extended family and friends at the lovely Bramston Beach.  My sister has already done a great blog post about that one so if you want to see how much fun we had, read all about Bramston Beach here.Beach
  • Climbed a mountain or two…Baldy Walsh's Pyramid
  • Walked around a lake and of course swam in said lakeLake4.jpg
  • Swam in some beautiful tropical north Queensland locationsJo Falls Babinda Boulders
  • Visited with lots of family and friends
  • Went off road to visit a beautiful little known waterfall 4wd Mackenzie Falls2 Mackenzie Falls MFalls
  • Flew back to the west coast before embarking on a road trip of 1600km to move to our new home town of Pannawonica in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.leaving perth Mesa Panna2 Panna3
  • Visited the dolphins at the beautiful Monkey Mia Monkey Mia Dolphin Shell Beach

It has been a busy, but wonderful four weeks and now we are finally settling in to our new life at Pannawonica.   It is a small town of approximately 800 people with one grocery store, a gym, a school, medical centre, library, post office, tavern and sports club, and a pool.  We can walk from one end of town to the other in about 10 minutes and I have learnt that a ‘Bung Arrow’ is a goanna.  Apparently the locals feed the goanna’s to keep the snakes away.  I have heard that the flies are not so bad this year but even so I have snorted quite a few from my nostrils and have had my husband look at me like I am a creature from another world as I preceded to gag, cough, spit, and splutter in front of him to try and stop myself from swallowing a fly.  Hmmm, such a lady, needless to say I had already swallowed the fly.  The temperature has been mid to high forties this week with the highest being 49oC.  Despite all this I think we will quite enjoy our time here and I have a hitlist already started!! I have a backlog of blog posts that I will get to in the near future including the following:

  • A wrap up of my previous hitlist
  • The best things to do in FNQ
  • Climbing Walsh’s Pyramid
  • Reasons to check out Monkey Mia
  • My new Exercise Hitlist

I will also be trying to add a few more Rehabilitation and Injury Prevention posts in the future.  If you want to hear more about anything else that I have done over the last few weeks or other topics in general please let me know in the comments.

7 Ways to get the Kids Active and Outdoors

On my current hitlist I have listed an Active Kids challenge as something I wanted to complete.  Basically, I wanted to have a good hard look at how much time my kids actually spent outdoors and active, and then focus on specifically planning a week of activities that will ensure that my kids are outside and active for at least an hour every day.  I decided to do this in the school holidays initially as it would keep them (and me) out of trouble and there wouldn’t be the obvious time constraints that come with the school term.  In saying that I also want to try this during the school term to see what changes I could incorporate into our daily lives.

There are many reasons that kids, and adults, should be staying active for at least an hour every day and these are just some of them:

  • It helps kids think better (also check out this link too on the benefits of daily activity and improved brain function)
  • It is good for emotional health
  • It is good for motor development and weight control
  • A family that exercises together, stays together…don’t have any research on that one, but it is what I believe!
  • It is fun
  • The great outdoors are just beautiful.  The opportunities for exploring our surrounding areas are all in our grasp if we just make the effort to look.
  • For the most part it is free

I am sure these reasons come as no surprise to anyone so why aren’t we all doing it?  Are our excuses legitimate or have we fallen into a bit of a rut and not thought outside the box about how we could fit it in?  Are our priorities in order?  I like to think that my kids are fairly active but when I took a good look at how much ‘moderate’ exercise they do I think we would only meet the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines for physical activity on 4-5 days out of a possible 7 days.  Hence my wish to pick up my game, make a plan for the holidays, and see if I could do 7 days of outdoor activity for more than an hour each day…..

ONE – Mountain biking – Check out your local mountain biking club for information on your closest trails.

Mountain biking - check out your local mountain biking club for information on your closest trails.

TWO – Head to a new park. Have you explored all your local parks?

Head to a new park.  Have you explored all your local parks?

THREE – Head to the beach. Australia is an island people, so for most of us our closest beach isn’t that far away.

Head to the beach.  We live on an island so for most of us our closest beach isn't that far away.

FOUR – Good old fashioned fun at a creek.

Good old fashioned fun at a creek.

FIVE – Find a local bike path – Where does it take you?

Find a local bike path - Where does it take you?

SIX – Spend a day at home – gardening, playing, jumping, riding.

Spend a day at home - gardening, playing, jumping, riding.  In this case they helped us carry and load all our camping gear too.

SEVEN – Go camping! Great way to recharge the batteries and have some quality family time.

Go camping!  Great way to recharge the batteries and have some quality family time.

So there you have it, seven great ways to get outside and have some fun with the kids.  What are your favourite ways to get outdoors and stay active?

Kings Park Treetop Walk….A Photo Journey

Through the course of my new blogging hobby I have come across a fit mother of two who blogs over at Fit Mother Hubbard.  One of my favourite things that she is doing is to have a family active day on a Saturday or Sunday for all of 2014.  You can read about it in this link.  Such a small thing, but such a great way to make fitness a priority but also something that is fun and just part of family life!  I try to incorporate family fitness fun into our everyday life but it got me thinking whether I do commit to this as much as I could?  Could I make sure that our family participates in a family active day once a week for a whole year?  I am going to give it a crack and I hope a few of you will join me too.

Tying in with this goal was the Kings Park Tree Top Walk that I have been wanting to do with the kids which is on my current hitlist.  Hubby was away this weekend and the kids and I were in need of an outing before it ended in tears from one or all of us!!  I only had my eldest son’s ipod as I forgot to grab the memory card for the camera before I left the house….but here is our Sunday family active day!

It is Spring Festival at Kings Park which I had temporarily forgotten until there were no parking spots to be found.  We ended up over the other side of the park and a little more of a hike and adjustment in plans.  Kids were thrilled...whinge, whinge, moan, moan.

It is Spring Festival at Kings Park which I had temporarily forgotten until we saw all the people and discovered there were no parking spots to be found. We ended up over the other side of the park with a little more of a hike.

After a hike up and over the hill we made it to the tree top suspension bridge.  Spectacular views.

After a hike up and over the hill we made it to the tree top suspension bridge. Spectacular views.

It is very difficult to fit us all in for a selfie.

It is very difficult to fit us all in for a selfie.

There is something about a smooth green hill that just asks for kids to roll down it!

There is something about a smooth green hill that just asks for kids to roll down it!

View from the top of the DNA Tower.

View from the top of the DNA Tower.

Sometimes I had to carry the youngest....or the two scooters.....or both.  Kids were a little over the walk (just under 2km there and 2km back) so had to resort to good old fashioned bribery in the form of ice cream to get them home.

Sometimes I had to carry the youngest….or the two scooters…..or both. Kids were a little over the walk (just under 2km there and 2km back) so I had to resort to the promise of ice cream to get them home.

Lots of people out and about in Kings Park today...fancy some tightrope walking?

Lots of people out and about in Kings Park today…fancy some tightrope walking?

Spring in Western Australia with all the wildflowers is just stunning!

Spring in Western Australia with all the wildflowers is just stunning!

A well deserved play at the end of our walk!

A well deserved play at the end of our walk.

 

Indoor Rockclimbing

Another fun, active idea to do with the kids or a workout all on its own. This made the hitlist on the spur of the moment as I picked up a family pass off Scoopon for a great price and I thought why not!! The voucher was with PWR Urban Ascent Rockclimbing gym.  We did this one on a rainy day during the school holidays which was great as the kids had been going a little stir crazy. My cousin was visiting at the time and we dragged him along as well which was lucky as we really needed another adult for our tribe of 4 kidlets. Kids under 13yrs are not allowed to belay (controlling the tension on the safety harness and rope) so it may be something to consider if you are thinking of trying it out as you don’t want the kids sitting around waiting too long.

When you first arrive you will need to fill in an indemnity for each person who is climbing.  You will then be shown how to put on the harness (insert inelegant snort here as I tried not to laugh at how uncomfortable my husband and cousin looked!) and undergo a safety demonstration on how to safely perform rock climbing, belaying, and abseiling.  It was really easy to pick up although the first couple of runs I was a little nervous about dropping the kids on their butts.  Turns out it is actually quite difficult to drop them.  Look no hands!!  I’m kidding, I didn’t really do that.

There are several walls with climbs of varying difficulty, but for obvious reasons we stayed on the basic climbs.  My boys are 8yrs, twins are 6, and the youngest is 4 yrs old.  The instructor was lovely and let us pay at the end for my youngest so we could see if he could actually do it.  He managed to have a great attempt at it and had a ball.

My youngest scaling the cliff face

My youngest scaling the cliff face

The kids surprised us with their ability and gained confidence with the heights as we went along.  Us big kids had a turn too and I found the hardest thing was having the grip strength, the confidence to trust that grip, and trust that you won’t fall.  It is higher than it looks.

All I could think about as I was climbing was the Spiderman theme song....

All I could think about as I was climbing was the Spiderman theme song….

It was a quiet afternoon when we visited so we had the place to ourselves and we ended up staying for a good couple of hours.  Check out their website for details on programs, prices and opening hours.  Some rockclimbing centres offer junior and senior classes which can be a great alternative to the usual sporting options if you are looking for something a bit different.  Definitely worth a go.

Lesmurdie Falls – Why all kids should get outside and explore!

It has currently been all about school holidays at my place these last couple of weeks. Now, I am not one of those mums who love school holidays and quite frankly, school holidays scare the crap out of me.  Can you imagine what four young boys can do to a house in a few short hours?? How much whinging and fighting and how many times they state, ‘There’s nothing to eeeeat!’  ‘There’s nothing to dooooo’.  And these holidays were even scarier.  Due to a recent move to WA from the east coast and a FIFO lifestyle, there was no husband coming home to save me from them, to untie me if necessary from where the kids managed to tie me to a chair, or to bring me chocolate on the way home so I could have a complete emotional binge eating session.  There were no visits to Grammy and Grunda, or to my sister’s place on the Blue Sky farm.  How was I going to survive?  I just had to suck it up and plan like I had never planned before.  These school holidays were planned with military precision.  We would enjoy them or die trying.  Ok, ok, a little dramatic but you get the picture.  For my holidays to work I had to keep them busy and tire them out so they would be happy to enjoy the quiet days.  Enter Lesmurdie Falls item on Hitlist No.1.

The reason Lesmurdie Falls makes the list is that I drive past the sign everytime I go to the shops and everytime I take my eldest son to footy.  How many times do you drive past signs for your local attractions and always tell yourself that you should turn off and check it out?  Put it on your hitlist, I tell you.  You never quite know what you will see and that is half the fun.

I decided to park at The Palm Terrace end of Lesmurdie Falls in Forrestfield rather than the head of the falls which is further up in Lesmurdie.  I chose this to be our starting position because it has a beautiful little creek for the kids to play in and I wanted the kids to tackle the uphill stage first while they were still enthusiastic and full of energy.  Besides, anything worth having deserves a little hard work.  Lesmurdie Falls trail is pretty well marked so the kids were going to lead the way and follow the markers.  Pre-trail brief always includes the safety talk.  In this case it was a reminder to the boys that they stick together, that they keep their eyes open for snakes and a review of what to do in an emergency especially the, “Don’t panic.  If you are too busy crying or fluffing around you won’t be able to work out what to do!!” speech.  I don’t tell them these things to scare them, but I want them to know that there is an element of risk in all things and I want them to start learning to assess situations and think of solutions if things go wrong.  Once the safety issues had been addressed off we went to see what we could see!

The walk starts by following the creek for a few hundred metres.  The sound of the creek bubbling away, the random bird noises, that damp earthy smell and the excited chatter of the kids as they came upon each new discovery was just lovely.  I could honestly feel the tension melt away.  Our first discovery was a fallen tree across a little creek and of course the boys just had to cross it….and….no one fell in!  Yay for me!!

Crossing the log.  Path is well signed.

Crossing the log. Path is well signed.

My boys loved following the path and looking for all the signs.  There are a few forks in the road and once you get to the stairs the path drops off quite steeply to one side, so it is a good idea to keep the kids close at hand.  The great thing about this track is that around every corner and over every rise we were rewarded with another great view, whether it was looking out over the city of Perth, or our first sight of the waterfall which was thundering over due to all the recent rain.  The sound of the falls could be heard early in the walk which increased the excitement for the boys as they wanted to find the source of that noise.  It makes me smile just thinking of all their exclamations.

Racing to see what was around the corner.

Racing to see what was around the corner.

 

And there she is....Lesmurdie Falls

And there she is….Lesmurdie Falls

At the top of the falls there are several more tracks heading off in varying directions.  The kids and I continued on and found The Cascades and climbed a little further up the hill for a look.  Don’t look at me like that…they did want to…..ok, maybe that last hill was to make sure they slept well that night.  No judging!

Clambering over rocks to view The Cascades

Clambering over rocks to view The Cascades

 

Final hill that I may or may not have made them do so they sleep better tonight.

Final hill that I may or may not have made them do so they sleep better tonight.

To top off a great walk, there was the little creek waiting for us at the bottom.  Of course I had snacks, its like Rule No.1 right out of Parenting Basics 101 – Must…bring…food…always.  So they had food, played in water and built a dam.  What more does a kid need?

Good old fashioned fun

Good old fashioned fun

And the million dollar question??  Did they behave all afternoon and sleep well that night??  Hell yes they did……Thank you Lesmurdie Falls.