Dear Busy Parents:
Have you always been working over time because you are behind on assignments; a bonus looms if a deadline is met or because you always work on Sunday? Stop and think. Would it stop the world from spinning on its axis if you run with your kids instead?
Will you interrupt your schedule to doing something that’s fun and healthy as a family. They may roll their eyes or be incredulous, but what better way to bond with them than by sharing a sport you love?
The reason the UN General Assembly proclaimed International Family Day back in 1993 was to encourage families to set aside 24 hours to celebrate the love that exists between all generations.
Besides, you may enjoy yourself so much, you decide to run with them more often than just every International Family Day on the 15 May.
Why it’s important to spend time with your kids
You’ve probably read articles written by child experts who strongly urge parents to spend time with their kids and wonder why this advice is given so frequently.
After all, you already know that statistics show that one-on-one time spent with offspring helps them build character, learn good values and strengthen bonds that will be tested as adolescence enters the picture.
In fact, there’s a reason to run with your children that supersedes these: If you don’t make an effort to find time, you’re going to regret it.
This revelation is the focal point of a “Daily Mail” article in which UK parents were asked what they would do differently if given the chance.
More than three-quarters of the parents interviewed independently said that they regretted not spending more time with their children and swear they would do things differently if the opportunity arose to make amends.
Here’s one of the most revealing points in this article: two-thirds of the parents interviewed by the “Daily Mail” learned a lesson after not being more attentive to a first child, so when they had more kids, most said they tried to rectify their behaviour to avoid having the regrets they felt about their first born.
Good news for younger kids. Not good news for firstborns whose parents came late to this realization.
Do you take your kids’ childhoods for granted, assuming that there’s plenty of time to catch up? It’s not as easy to do as you may imagine, say researchers.
A large number of parents asked to look back came to the sad realisation that they would never get those years back, which is why 46-percent of them were left feeling extreme regret.
If you’re the parent of a young child and you’re reading this article, we don’t want you to wind up with regrets, which is why we call your attention to this annual holiday to encourage you to do something you already love: Start taking your kids along when you run and you’ll improve your life and theirs.
You won’t compromise your training time and the bridge you build can be so strong, you could learn how it feels to have no regrets by the time your children fly out of the nest.
Tips to help you run with your young child
- You don’t have to invest in a jogging stroller to take your infants on a run, but if you can afford one, do add it to your baby gear collection because these strollers are invaluable. That stated, don’t put baby in there until your doctor says her neck muscles are developed enough to keep her safe.
- Need to push yourself? Invest in one of those clever front or back carriers, tuck baby in and take advantage of the added weight to make your run more challenging. There’s a good chance the motion of your cadence could even lull her to sleep once she’s used to it, but again, we urge you to check with your pediatrician to make sure it’s safe.
- Set a regular run with baby routine. Once a week is sufficient if you’re just starting out, but if you find your little one loves it, don’t leave him behind, no matter how often you run. This assumes, of course, that you leave baby at home when weather advisories could be detrimental to his well-being.
- Learn to be flexible. Rigidity and parenting do not mix terribly well. Your child may not be in the mood for a run at the time you choose. In fact, you may not be the one who’s having a hard time scheduling it. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Set reasonable expectations. Whether you’re using a jogging stroller or a baby carrier, it takes time to build up stamina to reach the 10 miles you usually run three days out of the week. Joggers and carriers affect your cadence, gait and the way you carry your body when a new element is added, so give yourself a break.
Tips to help you run with your grade school child
- Talk to your child before you institute a shared running experience. Tell him that you want to spend more time with him so he understands that this isn’t just exercise. Ask for input. Would he rather run in the early evening or should you start out on a Sunday morning? Run by the ravine or on a connector path? Kids love to be consulted.
- Manage your expectations. Rarely do mom and daughter have a first go at a shared running experience that turns out to be the stuff of movies! Your goal may be five miles, but even if your daughter is somewhat fit, she may decide that three miles is enough. Respect her decision. Perhaps you can compromise.
- Make it a game. Post a chart on your ‘fridge to show progress your son is making as he learns to extend his time on the trail. You don’t have to tell your child that his body benefits from your shared run as his bones grow strong and his cardiovascular system expands.
- Allow your youngster to set the pace. You don’t necessarily have to try for a personal best when you run together because this is no contest. Of course, your competitive nature could kick in once he gets to be more of a challenge, but resist the urge to beat him to the end of the trail.
- Never express disappointment in your child’s running performance. She needs to know that you love her even if she doesn’t appear to be a natural-born runner or if it turns out that she doesn’t enjoy running as much as you did at her age. Above all, control your emotions; don’t yell. Your job is to be a role model, not a track coach!
Tips to help you run with your teen child
- Anticipate resistance from the onset of your suggestion that the two of you start running together. Teens believe they get sufficient exercise using their thumbs on game controls and rolling their eyes, so be persistent and announce that you have no intention of giving up until they say yes.
- Respect your child’s schedule. If she’s already on the debate team, editing the school newspaper and hanging out with her friends, you’re going to engender resentment that can end your shared run request fast if you don’t consult with her about her schedule. Never ask her to change her plans in order to run with you. Find a mutually agreeable time.
- Use your running time together to learn more about your child, but do it in subtle ways. If you choose to fire intrusive questions at him from the get-go, you may find that your next request to run with him will be ignored. You wouldn’t pepper your conversation with intrusive questions when you run with a buddy, right?
- Show your child the benefits of running by using today’s celebrities to entice them. Find teen role models — celebs who regularly run to stay happy and healthy — even if you may not appreciate high-profile celebs like the Kardashians. Clip and share articles from teen magazines that extol the benefits of physical activity.
- Bribe your teen, if that’s what it takes! Your budget determines the enticement you choose, but if you can afford one, the promise of an electronic fitness device if he accompanies you on runs usually does the trick. Teens adore apps that keep tabs on their performance and some of the most helpful ones are free. Fashionistas won’t turn down a quirky water bottle, designer pants, a fuel belt or headbands, so go forth and see what happens. And relax. You won’t be the first parent to turn a child into a fan of running by adding a little incentive to your request!
Do you have any creative tips for getting kids to run with you? We’re open to all suggestions — particularly the fun ones!