The Busy Parent: Hectic Schedules VS Keeping Our Kids Active

Few of us have the luxury of being stay-home parents. We probably yearn for more family (and me) time than we get most of the time. Nonetheless, do we really need to choose between our hectic work schedules and being a part of our kids’ active lifestyle? Or can managing both be a reality?

Common barriers, excuses and misconceptionsWe may be inclined to think the following (aka easy excuses not to support a more active lifestyle for our kids!):

  • There is a lack of proximity or accessibility to sport facilities.
  • Our kids are too busy with homework.
  • They are only interested in their smart devices and lack interest in physical activity.
  • They are already getting sufficient exercise in school.
  • Our day jobs call for long working hours.
  • Accompanying children at sports takes up too much time.
  • Getting our children involved in sports requires a lot of money.

Cultivating a positive (and correct) mindset

If you are tied down by one or more of the above, it is time for a mindset shift. 

In reality, our children may not be more active during their PE lessons. On the contrary, they can end up doing more during family time - physically or mentally - playing with toys, doing crafts or just being out as a family. Thus, it is important to give our children opportunities, out of school time, to be active. 

Undeniably, working parents have our commitments and time is “never enough”. However, being there for our children does not always need to take up a lot of time or money – all it takes may be relooking our time management, and keeping an open mind. Companionship and leading by example are also good ways to motivate our children in being more interested in sport – be it through watching them or playing with them. 

Related reading:
Sport Through Our Children's Lens

Occasions when you really need to have that important meeting or spend that extra weekend in the office, and have to miss your child’s activity, acknowledge that it is all right to ask for help. This help can come from grandparents (possibly the most common secondary carers), even good neighbours or parents of your child’s classmates (doesn’t hurt to be friendly and return favours when other parents need help!).

More tips to help make things work

  • It is not just about making your children happy and giving in to all their demands. Instill a sense of responsibility in your children by setting ground rules. Communicate with your children when you need to focus on work. If scheduled activities are compromised, make up with alternative slots. Keep your children engaged when you need to be away, by getting their help with household chores or errands (within their abilities). Express your appreciation to your children after you complete your work commitment. 
  • Start with something “small and simple”. When we talk about keeping our children company, this can in fact be done within our lifestyle and daily patterns, such as taking an after-dinner walk in the neighbourhood, or even walking our children to school (if you stay near enough; or consider parking your car a short distance away from school and completing the rest of your journey on foot).
  • Put aside a budget every month. Many activities and sports in Singapore are inexpensive, or even free. If you forsee your children being actively or even professionally involved in future, and may require some costs, see this as an investment and plan ahead. Start with manageable expenses, and optimize the suite of services and equipment offered by schools and SportSG. 
  • Create a common platform to share and keep memories. Given how easy it is to create family chat groups on smartphones, dedicate one to activities and events your children participate in, and involve secondary carers, such as grandparents. Even if you have to miss an activity or event, you can still check out shared photos and videos, and send your children encouraging messages. Celebrate success and track progress together, even if you are not physically there with your children. 

Lastly, parents must remember to take good care of ourselves, this boosts our efficiency and productivity over the long-term. Make exercise part of our own routine and habit, regardless of duration. Best if this can be accomplished as a family activity!

Related reading:
Tackling Stress... for Parents

Tiny Guide to Ditching Mom Guilt & Embracing Me-time

Want Smart Children? Involve Them in Active Play

Topics: Support, Healthy Development, Sport Development