How to keep the kids active for free

September 14, 2016

I’m sure you know what it’s like when it’s a weekend or a day in the holidays and your kids are saying they are bored and asking to play on some kind of computer game. What do you do? My boys are pretty active and enjoy being outside and yet they still ask, sometimes to the point of me wanting to throw them outside, the computer games, not the kids! So how do you keep the kids active and why does it matter?

keep the kids active for free

Childhood obesity is no doubt on the rise with a worrying number of young children now classed as being overweight or obese and I definitely don’t want my children to join this number, giving them an increased risk of developing various health problems, not to mention likely weight problems in adulthood. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) regards childhood obesity as one of the most serious global public health challenges for the 21st century.  The latest figures, for 2014/15, show that 19.1% of children in Year 6 (aged 10-11) were obese and a further 14.2% were overweight. Of children in Reception (aged 4-5), 9.1% were obese and another 12.8% were overweight. This means a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds were overweight or obese.

The Government is trying to battle the trend but worringly, research commissioned by playground equipment provider ESP Play found that 68% of a child’s PE lesson is spent stationary. Thankfully, it also discovered that using ESP’s methods and playground environments increased physical activity by 19%. This includes things like multi-skill zone playground markings and providing training. As a teacher myself I’ve been lucky to have had extensive PE training and I know the importance of keeping the kids moving throughout the lesson with tips and tricks to do this, however being able to use good quality equipment makes it much easier. 

Over the long summer holidays I came up with some ideas on how to keep the kids active, for free. 

A list of activities they have to complete before they earn screen time with one of them being play outside for at least 30 minutes (we didn’t include cartoons early hours before you start panicking). This was definitely the most successful if sometimes a little unpopular, however I can’t claim the idea as I think I saw it on Facebook. The list included things like, make your bed, read a book, do something creative, play a game, build something and they could do them in any order, but had to complete them all to earn the computer time. Most days they managed to get engrossed in something and didn’t end up asking for or using the computer bar the initial moans before getting going.

Walk or ride a bike instead of driving. As we live in a village we do need to drive to some places, but if we need something from the shop we can walk there. I wish we still lived close enough to walk to School as it was so much easier. Sometimes the boys can be encouraged to go somewhere by suggesting we use the bikes which they love!

Visit a country park or local park. We are lucky enough to live near some beautiful Country Parks and places we can visit. Parking isn’t always free but our most local Country Park asks for a £1 donation. If we go to the village playground the boys either walk there or ride their bikes so it’s a win, win. A picnic or snacks for half way around, or at the end works well meaning you don’t spend money on food and drinks there and can also act as encouragement to explore and get moving. 

Play with them. The boys love it if I stop doing whatever important job it is that I’m doing and join in with them. Water fights and piggy in the middle have proved very popular recently. It also means I’m out in the fresh air with them and getting active myself. If the weather isn’t great you could try some indoor sports, just move any breakables first. 

Go Geocaching. We tried this in the summer and it was a hit, definitely keeping you active especially if the 5 and 8 year olds are in charge of the directions. It’s free and relatively easy to do once you get our head around the fact it’s basically a modern treasure hunt. 

If  you are outside, dress for the weather. It can be pretty miserable if you aren’t warm and kids will soon get grumpy and want to go back inside and sit doing something less active. Equally if you are planning on standing and watching, make sure you are dressed appropriately or you will be keen to get back. I know as I have done this too many times, making sure the kids have everything and forgetting for myself. Always take a change of clothes so activities aren’t cut short due to a run in with a puddle or mud. I always keep sun lotion in the changing bag so that if the sun suddenly appears we can stay out and I have found over the years that layers work well for all weathers.

How do you keep the kids active? I would love to know if you have any more ideas. 

Like this, then pin it!

 Keep the kids active for free

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post written with ESP Play.

20 responses to “How to keep the kids active for free”

  1. Kim Carberry says:

    Great ideas…
    I can’t believe I haven’t thought of giving the kids a list of activities they have to complete before they earn screen time! Genius!

  2. Claire says:

    I love the idea of earning screentime by being active, once my eldest starts school I think this will have to become a staple in our house! xx #picnmix

  3. Cheryl @ ReimerandRuby says:

    Great ideas here… Like my kids, they easily get bored whilst at home and going in the play park and going out with their bikes is the most convenient outdoor activity there is as it’s free. #PicknMix

  4. Geocaching, Hubs and I have been waiting for our little one to get walking properly so we can take her!


  5. Love the idea of earning screen time.

    We kept active with lots of trips to the park, nature walks and playing PokemonGo. My eldest loved a nature walk, with a sheet of different types of trees and bugs to spot. My youngest was more motivated by PokemonGo.


  6. Helen says:

    Lots of brilliant ideas – we spend most of our time outside as my daughter isn’t allowed to watch cartoons. We love going for walks, playing at the park and exploring the nature around us 🙂 #picknmix

    Helen x

  7. OddHogg says:

    I like the idea of completing activities before screen time! #picknmix

  8. Love these ideas. I try and keep little man as active as possible as he is always on the go! #picknmix

  9. Thankfully mine are obsessed with the trampoline so spend a lot of time on there! Geocaching is definitely on my to-do list #picknmix

  10. RachelSwirl says:

    We are lucky that we have a good-sized garden and so the kids get thrown out there everyday to go play, explore and to get some fresh air.

  11. I love these ideas, particularly making them do something for 30 minutes before watching TV – I think I need to introduce something like that! We love geocaching though, and by telling them we are going on a treasure hunt, and actually finding treasure , it keeps them interested in the outdoors! #picknmix

  12. These are fab ideas. I saw your list at the beginning of the summer & thought what a great idea. My two love walking to the shops, think it has something to do with the two play parks they can stop at on the way there & back! #PicknMix

  13. Helena says:

    Great post. We don’t need gym memberships to live active lifestyles whatever our age. #PicknMix

  14. Great ideas. We used the first a year ago when my son’s iPad usage was rediculously high. We had a range of activities that could earn him screen time such as playing outside, riding his bike, drawing, reading, chores. Each activity earned a set amount of time but he could only use 2 hours a day (on school days, more at weekends) any extra that he earned (or all of it if he wanted) could also be exchanged for outings or a special activity with us, or some extra pocket money. It worked great and now he’s pretty good at managing his own time and we don’t the system anymore. I really want to try geocaching, I think my son would love it.

  15. I have seen that list that you are talking about! I think it’s ace! I have also seen one that they have to complete a list of to-do’s to earn the wifi password for that day (I will be using that when my boys are old enough for sure!) #picknmix

  16. great list and I love the idea of bribing before screen time hehe. I often do this even now. you can watch paw patrol only when xyz is done. we are lucky that we have the beach near us so we go a lot ! #picknmix

  17. I’m lucky with my two really, unless it is raining hard they always want to be out playing with their friends. I don’t think many children could be more active in all honesty 🙂

    Stevie xx

  18. wendy says:

    I would love to go geocoaching, it always sounds so fun. I love the idea of making sure the kids get active for a certain amount of time a day before they can have some screen time. Xx #picknmix

  19. Silly Mummy says:

    Good ideas. Will have to try them when kids are older. Currently with two toddlers I am usually trying to get them to be less active, or at least active in the same direction! #picknmix

  20. Oh I really want to try geocaching but wondered if Monkey was a little young. It sounds like he will be the perfect age next Summer a will definately be giving it ago. Also like the idea of 30minutrs before watching tv!! Will ve implementing this. Thank you for hosting #picknmix xx

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