My cousin jokes about his method for getting his kids outside to play.
“Give them a rope. Toss them all outside. Lock the door. Kids can play with rope for hours.”
No matter your method for getting them outside, it’s incredibly important for kids to play — for the body, the brain, and, not to be too touchy feely, but for the soul.
Who doesn’t well remember a childhood playing outside with friends after school until the streetlight hours? Or roaming the countryside, poaching pears and apples from orchards? Or pick-up games with kids on the crowded streets?
All that wild, free play time is part of what made me the person I am today, and I look back upon those years with fondness.
In the big city, it often feels difficult to re-create those endless hours of free time for my own child. Yet, we are big believers in massive doses of physical activity, so I’m incredibly delighted to work with Fuel Up to Play 60 — a program designed to get kids eating better and playing a lot more in school. It’s a partnership between Real California Milk, the National Dairy Council and the NFL to encourage healthy eating and tons of play.
Count me in.
With an incredibly bouncy, active kid, it was easy to make the decision to join this movement.
Emme is on a travel soccer team, loves to run and bike, and is a Grand Champion horse jumper (seriously, you’re never going to hear the end of this brag; she’s so proud of herself and I’m so proud of her as well), and one of the things I’m keenly aware of is her risk for injury. Extra play time — and some good training and eating — can help minimize the risks of injury, so we’ve been tossing her outside more and more as she grows older.
It’s going to become a lot more important in the years to come. I remember reading this New York Times article about the book “Warrior Girls,” which looks at high incidents of knee injuries in girl athletes, and seeing just how difficult it is to maintain play time as kids get older. At 9, they get three or so hours a day; at 15, it’s under one hour.
It’s important to set this base early, to make play time a natural part of kid’s lives. It seems like a no brainer, right? But I’m keenly aware that for a lot of kids, including ours, everything is hyper-scheduled nowadays. Add in computer and social media time, and all of a sudden, the day is gone, and that wild, free play time suffers. I’m hopeful that programs like this can reverse that trend and provide those fond memories we well remember as adults, while also laying the groundwork for a life of health and fitness.
Visit fueluptoplay60.com to find out more about the program and what you can do at home and at school to keep kids active, healthy, and happy.
I’m proud to partner with Real California Milk for this post and social media campaign. The money will probably go toward a stronger lock and a solid rope. Watch out: Play time ahead!