Having kids when you are a devoted runner can create a bit of a disruption to your usual running schedule and habits. This is especially true when you have a newborn or looking after toddlers who rely on you at all times to stay safe and well. Even with very small children though, with some adjustments and help from your spouse, family and friends you can still find the time for some running. The question is – how to incorporate spending time with your children and at the same time stay true to your running program? Getting your kids into running will help improve their physical and mental health and fitness, and will set an excellent basis and habit of staying active as they grow up.
Here are ways to make your children interested in running, and joining you for your runs:
1. Include your children in your running from early age
As soon as your toddlers can safely be carrying in strollers or jogging strollers, you can begin bringing them along with you for your daily runs. Yes, it could be way too early for them to realize and remember this, but this is an excellent way to get them into the habit of joining you on your favorite running routes, your nearby park or other fun spots to be.
2. Turn the act of running into a game
All children love games, so why not turning your regular run into a type of a game for your child? You can play spot the squirrel or bird as you run through the park with the kids, play tag, or think of any other game or even competition to keep them interested in joining you for your runs and actually enjoying them with you.
3. Reward them for their running, just as you would for completing chores
You can keep your children motivated to go out running and to improve their running performance in time, by rewarding their efforts and achievements in various ways. Give out gold stars or set up a board to write down that points the kids get for running a certain distance or for going out running for a certain number of days. Children love competitions, so you will definitely grab their attention and keep them interested in participating in the family runs as long as their achievements get noticed and rewarded!
4. Take your children to watch you run a race
Take the kids with you at your races. They can watch and cheer along as you run down the route. This experience will surely be exciting for them, and it could be an excellent incentive for them to work on running a race themselves soon too!
5. Try running in the dark hours
If you have a safe place to do so, get the children out for a fun-filled dark run. Put on some reflective clothing and headlamps and go for a run, which your kids will surely love. Add some fun stories and think of possible adventures you may be pursuing in the dark to keep them interested in going on running.
6. Enroll them to a running program in school or your community
Children love spending time with their friends and peers, so enroll them in a school running program or other similar groups for running. The kids will meet up with old and new friends their own age, and will surely enjoy spending time socializing with them whilst remaining active at the same time.
7. Create a habit
Make sure you are not forcing the running on your children. Try to create a healthy habit for them to enjoy being active and go out to enjoy a run, so that they can get used to such a lifestyle and continue to do so as they grow older. Encourage them without forcing them. Be careful to avoid creating an aversion for running rather than a love for it in your children by taking an individual approach towards your child depending on its character and specific behavior and needs.
If you manage to do so, you will reduce the risk of your children growing up being obese, leading sedentary lifestyles and developing health problems related to this type of lifestyle.