My boys NEED physical activity. I know that's true of all 8- and 9-year-old boys, but I also think that children with backgrounds in trauma use the physical activity to self-regulate. BD also has seriously high sensory needs. Movement is essential for him.
When they first came home last April, we were outside. A lot. Every afternoon involved a family soccer match. We rode bikes, went for walks, swam, jumped in the sprinkler, etc. Every day included movement.
Now it's winter. Both boys have expressed their hatred of this season, and I can't blame them. Our area has seriously had the lamest winter. Ever. We've had a few sprinklings of snow, and just about the time the boys discovered their love of sledding, the snow melted. Then it got cold again with an entire week with windchills below zero. Right now our yard is a frozen wasteland of rock-hard mud and dirty ice. We can't build snow tunnels or engage in a snowball fight. Sledding is out of the question, and the boys both now avoid snowpants and boots when they aren't at school.
So we've gotten creative. They played with an indoor soccer league for a few weeks, but we needed at-home activities, too.
Family favorites include:
- Several games of basketball knockout at our hoop in the basement. This usually results in sweat and laughter and sometimes pouting. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I'm usually the first eliminated. I'm not exactly known for my athletic prowess.
- Jumping on our small trampoline. This can bring out a physical change in both boys when they are dysregulated. It's unbelievable. If we can catch them before their Big Feelings are too big, it can turn their moods around in a matter of minutes.
- Running on the treadmill. Yes, I'm probably perpetuating a stereotype here, but both Ethiopian boys really enjoy running. Last week BD ran over two miles after school. He was shirtless and smiling, dripping in sweat.
- Lion running and crocodile walk contests. The lion run is BD's invention, and he's definitely the best. He starts in an upright position and then bounds down with his hands on the floor. Leaping forward, it's like a fast-paced crawl without touching knees on the floor. The crocodile walk is something the boys learned at school, and it doesn't take much space.
- Other random workouts. I've had LD do intervals of lunges and squats with me. He's a big fan of jump squats. Me....not so much. I would really like to get them started on some kids' yoga. Any suggestions?
Finally, we've come up with the best discovery lately. Drum roll, please.
The discarded mattress!!!
Jude and I recently upgraded to a Sleep Number bed. Ah, sweet heaven. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that Jude had been sleeping on the same queen mattress since he was five years old. We were waking up in the mornings feeling hungover when we hadn't even been drinking the night before.
The old mattress is now on the living room floor, and I'm not sure the boys will ever let us get rid of it. For the past several days it's been used for the following:
- A high jump mat. Jude holds a cardboard roll from wrapping paper as the bar. The boys compete to see who can jump the highest.
- A "volleyball" court for a game that is played on the knees with a balloon.
- An arena for MMA fights. This might not win me awards for best parenting, but the boys will wrestle (supervised!) on the mat until they are both exhausted. So far the only rule has been "No wedgies."
And now for a super awesome instructional video (featuring my homemade capes) brought to you from BD and LD. You will know now exactly how to do jumps and flips on an old mattress. (You might also notice the bossiness of BD.) Enjoy.
How does your family stay active in the colder months?