Parenting Guru: 5 simple ways to get your family’s move back

Add a splash of excitement to everyday activities.With two very lively little boys, staying active isn't much of an issue in our house. Finding new ways to channel their endless energy and keep things interesting is where I find myself challenged. Here are a few simple things we've discovered that make everyday items and places a bit more interesting.

Hula Hoop Hoopla

While I fancy myself quite the hooper (and I'm proud to say Big seems to be following in my footsteps), hula hoops can be frustrating and quickly left behind if you're just using them the old-fashioned way. Instead, use them as targets -- hanging from a swing set or tree, or simply lying on the ground. See who can get the most balls/bean bags/water balloons through the circle. Another fun game is to see who can hold the hula hoop up over their head and drop it without the hoop touching them. How many times in a row can they do it? Another fun one: Have two kids stand a few feet away from each other and roll the hula hoop. Keep taking steps back to see how far they can roll it without it falling to the ground. As you try these games, you'll probably be inspired to come up with your own favorites.

Everything But Jumping Rope

A jump rope is another household item that can frustrate beginners. So make that twine a bit more friendly by turning it into an imaginary tightrope (that doesn't leave the ground, that is). Start with a simple walk across it, then add in challenging tricks like walking kick, step, kick, step. While the rope is on the ground, hop on one foot around it. Then backward. Then side to side. Use the rope to make letters or shapes and have others guess what you've created.

Balloon Any-Ball

If you have sports lovers on your hands, one way to keep them (and your beloved household breakables) rather safe indoors is with balloons. My kids are constantly playing everything from volleyball to baseball to entirely made up ball games. They know where the pre-approved "court" is and they're up and at it long before I've gotten to the breakfast dishes (which I realize isn't saying much since that was about 4pm today). Make this a bit more interesting by taking the sport outside and replacing the usual ball with a water balloon. (Please keep in mind that popped balloons are choking hazards, so be sure to pick up the pieces immediately.)

Neighborhood Nonsense

Who says it has to be a holiday to have a parade? Use streamers to decorate bikes/scooters/wagons/etc and hit the road. Knock on doors along the way and see if you can get your neighbors to join in the fun. Another way to make a walk around the neighborhood more interesting is to go out with a scavenger hunt list. See who can spot all the items on the list first (or, if your kids are so competitive they'll end up in tears -- not to say I'd know what that's like -- give each kid their own list). Think of numbers on houses and license plates, colors of paint and flowers, number of cars in the driveway… You might be surprised by the things you notice as well.

Tons of Tag

The other day my kids and their cousins were playing tag. We realized they didn't know what TV tag was. What about freeze tag? Dancing tag? Teach your kids some of the ways you made tag more interesting as a kid. Go to a new place -- like a local high school or college field -- and give them plenty of space to run. And when night falls, if you're in a wide open space that's safe, play flashlight tag. The person who's "it" uses a flashlight to find the hiders crouching all around the field in the dark.

What tricks have you discovered to keep your family active and entertained?


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Amy is a Shine Parenting Guru. She's enjoying summer fun with her three kids (ages 13 months thru 6 years) and writing all about it at her slice-of-life parenting blog, Using Our Words.