There must be a perfect balance somewhere between an activity every night of the week and my children literally bouncing off the walls to release pent up energy. Unfortunately, I haven’t found it. It’s one of those wall-bouncing weeks at my house as soccer season recently wrapped-up for my kids and husband who coached them.
When our chosen sports are in season, things get a little chaotic – shuffling from school, home, practice and home again just to start all over the next day. But, I really don’t think I’d have it any other way (please don’t remind me of that confession when I’m looking frazzled at gymnastics or t-ball).
As I see it, having too many activity options for our kids is a good problem. Our kids are little, three and five, and my husband and I agree that this is the time for them to try as many sports and activities as they want. Is that more work for their taxi service? Sure, but that’s part of our job. If my kids show interest in something, we’ll give it a shot (at least once).
These activities do more than teach my kids a sport. If you’ve ever seen 4-year-olds play soccer you know skills are minimal. They learn sportsmanship — something that will serve them long after the season is over. They make friends — something that every military parent wants for their military kid. They get their wiggles out doing something active for their health, but they just think it’s playing.
No matter where you’re stationed, there are activities near you:
• Start with your installation’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation – This is where you’ll find sign-up information for youth sports, camps and specialized activities. Their website is a good place to start, but you may get more current information from a call or visit to the office.
• Branch out – Sometimes, for one reason or another, your installation just doesn’t have what you’re looking for. In these cases, you’ll need to look in your surrounding community. Start with city or county programs and the YMCA — these are typically the most cost-effective (after installation activities, of course). If you still aren’t having luck, try club teams or specific gyms.
• Ask around – Other military families are great resources for information on the best programs in your area. Ask about pricing, registration deadlines, organization, coaching styles or anything else you can think of.
• Catch special events – Did somebody say “Fun Run?” Installations put special emphasis on health — it’s a component of readiness. So, it’s no surprise that they regularly host family-friendly fitness events, like fun runs, parent-child events, day camps, contests and more. Registration fees are usually slim to none, so what do you have to lose?
• Sweat together – If you have older kids, consider attending a group fitness class with them. You might find a workout you both enjoy.
I may talk a big game about “the more sports the merrier,” but my kids only take on one activity at a time. It reduces the risk of burnout (for all of us) and ensures that we still have a little downtime as a family.
When your child is ready for fitness disguised as fun, jump on one of the many chances military kids have to get involved and get active.