I remember the first time I visited an indoor play centre with my toddler. Although I did not like the idea of an indoor play centre after the third day of rain I was willing to give anything a try. House bound boys have a lot of energy, so off to the indoor play centre we went.
The first thing that struck me was how loud it was in there. Kids were laughing and talking and excited to be there. Indoor play centres are bright and cheery places where kids can run, crawl, scoot, jump, leap, slither and slide and get buried in balls. So can mums. For the mother it is a wonderful well rounded, whole body functional workout (see what I did there – I used all the words the latest and greatest exercise routines use). I recall feeling absolutely bone weary after 2 hours of following my child!
All levels of learning and development stem from movement – first they need to have a good grounding in all the gross motor skills (jump, leap, hop, walk, run) and only then can they master the fine motor skills like holding a pencil, drawing, eating with a knife and fork, picking up a puzzle piece, throwing and catching a ball.
Fast forward another year or 2 (2 ½ to 3 1/2 years), and still we are at the stage of mastering the gross motor skills. There are perhaps frequent opportunities to enrol in Kindergym, swimming, and other programs to develop your child’s movement skills. These programs claim to give them a great start, an advantage over the child who is not attending this program or that. However I think it is true to point out that if all your child is doing is going to the park – indoor or out – they will not be behind any of their peers attending sometimes costly and less spontaneous ways of getting your child to move. I’d have to say the mother actively involved in play time at the park is getting a double benefit too. Pushing your child on the swings, chasing them around the play ground, climbing ladders, going down slides and balancing along the edge of things is a workout in itself – totally functional, ensuring you connect with your child as well as getting the mental health benefits that come with exercising outdoors.
Once your child is 5 years plus it gets literally harder to keep up with them. Have fun with this – give your child the job of being your personal trainer. The rules are – you have to do what they do – perhaps with modifications . . . .
All ages, all stages fitness is for everyone in the family. I hate to hear mums say “I’ll get back to exercise when the child is at school”. No need – you have grown your very own movement machine – all you have to do is get down to their level and move with them.
This weeks guest article is provided by Jo Cordell-Cooper, who specialises in women’s fitness for all ages, all stages. To see more of what she does, have at look at: www.jocc.com.au