Weekend athletics are the highlight of many kids’ childhoods and many parents’ adult lives. However, it can be intimidating to try to become more physically active together, especially if you and your kids tend to spend your weekends watching TV on the couch. If you’re looking to get more into weekend athletics, grab your custom mouthguard and read on to discover nine tips that will make the experience fun for the whole family:
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Try not to only be a weekend warrior.
We get it: It’s hard to work out during the week! However, being a weekend warrior puts you more at risk for injury and doesn’t create a habit of physical activity. Try to get in some exercise with your kid during the week, even if it’s just going for a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. This will help both of you to be more prepared for your weekend athletics once Saturday rolls around.
Let them rest and recover.
That being said, you shouldn’t push your kids so hard that you exhaust them (or cause preventable overuse injuries). Most kids need at least one to two days each week completely off from regulated physical activity. If they have excess energy and want to run around on their own, that’s fine, but don’t pressure them to exercise if they just want to rest. In fact, you can even turn off-days into quality family time by doing a more restful activity together, such as cooking a meal or playing a board game.
Be a good role model.
Kids look up to their parents in all things, including athletic performance and habits. They take their cues from you when it comes to consistency, attitude, grit and more — so act how you want your kids to act! We know it can be hard to get kids plus athletic gear out the door, but try to keep things as low stress as reasonably possible to cultivate their love of athletics and model a positive attitude for them.
Let them have some independence.
We know it can be tough to let your kid spread their wings and fly, but it’s important not to hover around them too much so they can have a chance to assert their independence. This is especially true for team sports where they have coaches who are giving them advice.
If you’re doing a non-competitive sport together, such as kayaking on a local river, you’ll probably need to give them a bit more guidance, but still try to give them space to experiment with things on their own. Making small, low-stakes mistakes is an essential part of learning and will teach them valuable lessons about being independent.
Give them the support they need.
Some kids are extremely self-confident, while others are shy and need more encouragement. And every kid, no matter how confident they are, will need support from mom and dad after a crushing loss or a bad practice. We totally get the impulse to heap constructive criticism on your kid, but don’t be afraid to combine it with a healthy amount of love and support to help them bounce back from the hard days.
Help them stay hydrated.
Hydration is key for preventing heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses. Children are actually more vulnerable to dehydration than adults because they have higher water body content and higher metabolic rates. They also have more body surface area per pound of weight than adults do, meaning that they have more skin area that produces sweat.
Encourage your child to drink water, and consider mixing in sports drinks or electrolyte powder to help replenish what they are sweating out. Get them a gold teeth mouthguard that makes it easy to drink water so they don’t have to take it out every time they want a sip.
Feed them healthy food.
We’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you eat,” and this is as true for growing kids as anyone. Try to eat healthy all throughout the week — not just on weekends — so that they have the nutrients and energy they need for their athletic pursuits. Feed them mostly lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats like olive oil and avocados. Some sugar and sodium is okay, but try to limit their consumption of these as well as pre-packaged foods (which are high in sugar and sodium). Stock the car with some easy-to-digest snacks rich in carbohydrates so they can eat them after practice to help prevent a blood sugar crash.
Make sure they have safety equipment.
Yes, kids are resilient, but they are also uniquely vulnerable to injury due to their growing bodies, so giving them the proper safety equipment is of paramount importance. Obviously, this will vary by sport: A DIY mouthguard is essential for football while a life vest is more appropriate for paddleboarding. Kids are also hard on their gear, and they don’t always recognize when it’s damaged enough to warrant a replacement. Thus, you need to periodically check their equipment for damage and replace or repair it as necessary.
Focus on the fun.
As the parent, you are a major factor in whether or not your kid develops a lifelong love of athletics — or if they get scared off from sports for good by bad experiences. Sadly, a certain kind of sports parent can really suck the fun out of athletics not only for their own kids but for the other kids who are participating as well (and sometimes the other parents too!). If your weekend athletics are starting to feel like a chore, rededicate yourself to focusing on the fun and rekindling your child’s love for athletics.
Got more tips for enjoying weekend athletics with your kids? Have you made any great memories with weekend activities recently? Let us know in the comments below!