Despite the fact that school is out and homework is temporarily at bay, summer is a busy time for families. Between sports, events, family reunions and vacations, parents’ energy can quickly be depleted by trying to keep up with everything that’s going on – resulting in an impact on the whole family. As a mother of two and captain of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team, I know firsthand how hard it can be to keep kids healthy, happy and busy all summer long, while also keeping up with everything else.
These are my top tips for creating a fun, fit and memorable summer with your family, no matter how busy you are:
Get a Head Start with Proper Nutrition
Proper nutrition can make all the difference in the world – especially first thing in the morning – which is why breakfast is an important part of the Rampone family routine. I’m a stickler about energizing each morning with healthy food choices like Greek yogurt, fruit, oatmeal, egg whites with whole wheat toast, and smoothies, most of which can be eaten on the go and are quick and easy to prepare. Make it even easier on yourself by stocking up on fruits and veggies and prepping them on Sunday night for blending, snacking or steaming throughout the week.
We are also advocates of immune health, which keeps you strong for the long haul. Try adding a supplement containing EpiCor to your family’s daily diet, which has been shown to strengthen the first and second lines of active immune defense and increase antioxidant protection.
Keep it Simple and Lead by Example
As parents, kids follow our lead, which is why it’s important to set an example by living healthy every day. Try to avoid fad diets, crazy cleanses, extreme workouts and other exercise trends that teach kids to turn to quick fixes rather than rely on regularity and consistency with diet and exercise. As you’ve often heard, fitness is a lifestyle, not a fad, and it’s up to parents to teach this to our kids. In my house, we talk about how food is fuel for the body and that you get out of it what you put into it.
Be Active – Mentally and Physically – Together
Fitness is both physical and mental and keeping kids on track requires work in each arena. This summer, get an assortment of board and trivia games to play, make art projects, garden, or do regular journaling — all great ways to stay in learning mode while still having fun.
My family and I also make sure to engage in “fun”ctional exercise. We grab our backpacks and bike to the beach or swimming pool, go on a hike, or play some soccer (of course!) or flag football. A walk after dinner is also a great way to spend some time together while fitting in a little fitness.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And oftentimes, structure and schedule is the key to managing the craziness. But, with the regiment that takes place during the rest of the year, a little freedom during summer can be a good thing. When my girls are at home during summer break I like to encourage free play, which helps them practice social skills and gives them a taste of what the world is like outside of all that organization. Added bonus: It also gives my husband and I a little downtime.
We have a backyard trampoline and play set, which also serves as a magnet for kids from the neighborhood, allowing them to interact in a more casual setting. This unstructured play time is not only great for your child’s fitness level, but also a critical element for a child’s mental and emotional development. In fact, research published in the American Journal of Play shows that increasing a child’s free play time can help combat anxiety, depression, and problems of attention and self-control.
With these Rampone-family-tested tips I hope your summer is full of good times and great memories.
Christie Rampone is mother of two, captain of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team, three-time Gold and four-time FIFA World Cup Finalist.