More than ever, children need daily exercise, a sense of purpose, and adults to lead by example in getting, and staying fit, functional, and capable of taking on new endeavors. In a word, adaptive parental leaders.
Do not underestimate the power of the Force…of Play. Parents who work at getting or staying fit sometimes think, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have an edge without steroids?”
Could you manage 90-minutes of constant, varied, physical, responsive, interactive, and emotionally alive play with your kid(s) or nephews or nieces? Sounds exhausting, and it can be, however, there is an energy loop that goes right back into you.
Focused, physically active play is challenging, varied training. There are high-intensity chases; intervals of quiet role playing to exercise recovery breathing and listening skills; dance; uproarious laughter; hiding (and controlling breathing while hiding); suspense; evading and wrestling, just to keep the game going; avoiding water, foam projectiles, and martial arts moves; throwing; catching; holding; throwing games; target practice games; dancing; towing; falling; rolling; getting up again; and many, many more.
Marcus Aurelius said that life is more like wrestling than dancing. Focused play is both of these and more. The laughter, joy, communication, and satisfaction you will get because your child is happy from the undivided play time with you will go beyond calories and into the health benefits of sheer happiness, if you put yourself into it. Everyone will also sleep well, a boon for the immune system and brain.
Obviously exercise total focus, awareness, and preventive safety whenever playing. I don’t advocate hide and seek in places away from home where you lose sight of your child. One’s own safe and secure home is best for that.
The calling of parenting children, two careers and a half on top of that, children’s engagements, pagers, extended family, the unexpected, viruses, peeing puppies, book deadlines, slow leaks, leaving something in the house, missing item X, reading, financial management, security, training by example…
Oh yeah. Training by example.
First things first. The right and innocent Mohicans. Their tribe comes first. Their needs at their level, on-time.
Can’t seem to train while wearing a funny hat and speaking Buzz Lightyear’s voice to a big headed doll that frankly looks like an alien car hop. Yes, I was told to do this, and I am not insubordinate, just as trained at the Space Ranger Academy.
So, all else crowded out, hitting the park on the way to here or there on Dr. Suess’s Zayt Highway Eight is where callouses wrap around steel, alloy, plastic and rubber; it’s where shoe soles step up on boulders, benches and stairs. Every conceivable way to move. That’s the cohering mission for me as I play at the park, following and or leading the tribe. It is up to me to fuse this into playing harder for more fun with the tribe. Occasionally lessons materialize as if in a hologram in the middle of it all.
I supervise, follow and stay totally aware. But while I do, I’m using the environment to training effect. When the day is over a baton is passed, I’ve a small window of un-fuzzy consciousness plus no luxury of drinking coffee late to write. Late coffee is for crunch and clinch deadlines only.
Parking-it is way-way underrated for parents’ fitness, and when I see some of my parenting peers or nannies at the park sitting, just sitting while their children play and play, I want to go up to them and say:
“Your sales tax paid for this. You can use it, just don’t break anything breakable.”
But my purpose when born was not to annoy people at parks, so I don’t say anything. Words are weak. If I just enjoy the park and train there while playing with my tribe, the example of another parent enjoying functional movement at the park is beyond enough.