By Rajesh Gupta, MD
Summertime – the kids are home with loads of free time. They may feel inclined to relax on the couch until school starts up again in the fall, but don’t let them miss out on the lively energy of those summer months. Here are several healthy activities that you and your little ones can enjoy together.
Find a farm and get to picking. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries — whatever savory treat you and your kids enjoy, pick them yourself. Local farms and nurseries are the perfect locations to tackle a fun task of collecting something you both like, together. Once your buckets are filled, head to the kitchen to try out your favorite fruit-filled recipes. Visit your local farmers’ market for a larger selection and give your kids a few dollars to spend. Turn this into a yearly tradition and they’ll look forward to it every time. Now you can check a few items off your grocery list in exchange for sweet memories.
Put your green thumb to the test. If you currently have a home garden, or are willing to practice your planting skills, encourage your kids to join you. Take the time to plan how big or small you’ll make your garden, where and what vegetables or flowers you want to grow. No need to commit to a huge project; this will be a rewarding pursuit for everyone involved, no matter the size; you could even offer a small section as their own responsibility. They will take pride in playing an important role in the summer-long upkeep and benefit from having a healthy snack right outside the house.
The outdoors are in! Ditch the digital distractions (except for maybe a camera) and head outside to soak up the vitamin D. Spend a Saturday with your kids navigating through a nearby state park or nature reserve; you can spend some time hiking, swimming, canoeing or taking a leisurely nature tour. Depending on your child’s age and abilities, there are a wide variety of outdoor adventures to undertake. This is a great chance to get some exercise and give your kids the opportunity to explore. Pack the sunscreen, plenty of water and a picnic lunch for your day-trip destination, and you’ll be good to go.
Create your own masterpiece. Whether it’s decorating flowerpots, painting a picture or assembling a homemade bird feeder, you can’t go wrong with arts and crafts. A few simple supplies and a child’s imagination can go a long way. Exercising your child’s mind with creative crafting has been linked to lifelong brain development gains. This is also a smart way to keep busy while escaping the summer heat or seeking shelter from a thunderstorm.
Don’t forget to keep a close eye on your kids to prevent any injuries during your summertime fun. Staying hydrated and avoiding sunburn will ensure the good times last even longer. Enjoy and have a safe and happy summer!
Rajesh Gupta, MD is Medical Director, AFC Urgent Care, Yorktown.