These active lifestyle tips for families combine green principles with frugality:
saving money, getting strong, and reducing waste - all at the same time. They are
guaranteed to get kids moving and having fun, while leaving the family budget intact.
While dance classes and sports teams can be great activities, they can also be expensive
and time-consuming for today’s overscheduled kids. Pediatric experts recommend that
children get a healthy dose of ‘free’ playtime where they can actively socialize with
their friends (with age-appropriate supervision, of course).
1. RE-schedule your family calendar.
Start with a simple check of your daily and weekly calendars (along with your current budget). Does your schedule feel too tightly packed and all stressed out? Are you spending enough quality time together as a family - with opportunities to eat dinner and play together? Are you driving around too much and not getting enough physical activity? Do you need to cut down on unnecessary expenses (a little or a lot)? How could you give your kids more of the attention they crave?
2. RE-think screen time in your home.
Entertainment screens (TV/DVD/computer/video game/PDA) use lots of electricity (TVs alone use 3% of household energy). Turning off screens saves energy dollars and helps kids be healthier, smarter, and better behaved. Pediatricians recommend no screen-time for children under 2 and less than 2 hours a day for older kids. Turning off screens gives your family time for active fun and togetherness: playing ball (any ball outside, Nerf® balls inside) or dancing to silly music.
3. RE-imagine toys for tots.
Small children like to play with almost anything. In fact, often old stuff is better than fancy new toys. Reusing kitchen containers (cereal boxes, margarine tubs, plastic bottles, etc.) gives toddlers hours of no-cost entertainment and minimizes the trash in your landfill too. (These ‘toys’ can be recycled when they’re no longer wanted.) Fill empty containers with crumbled newspaper for stacking or with dried beans for making music. Tape the lids on tight and let the fun begin!
4. RE-define transportation to school.
This idea is real easy on the pocketbook and environment - and real good for children’s health. For strong bodies, smart brains, and best behavior, children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Walking or biking to school saves money, reduces pollution, and gets kids the movement they need. Walk or bike with your kids - and you won’t need to buy an expensive treadmill! Make smart use of walk-to-school time by practicing spelling words or learning new songs.
5. RE-discover the joy of family time.
It’s been said that a family that plays together, stays together. Children get more than a healthy body from family play time. They enjoy security and stability - and they learn lifelong values, like hard work, fair play, and giving everyone a turn. All this - and a ton of fun too! Need some sports equipment or bikes for your family activities? No need to pay brand new prices: Check out garage sales, thrift stores (Goodwill®, etc.), and sports equipment swaps for gently-used items.
The programs of the MSU Extension Service are available to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. Issued in furtherance of cooperative extension work in agriculture and home economics, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Douglas Steele, Vice Provost and Director, Extension Service, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717.
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