Mama Mia: there is a cure for the summertime blues |

Mama Mia: there is a cure for the summertime blues

Mama Mia! I have three kids ranging from 5 to 8 years old and I really can’t afford to send any one of them to camp or enroll them in any summer programs, but I don’t want them just sitting around at home watching TV all day.

Having one, two or three kids does not seem to matter as many parents are simply opting out of sign-ups this year due to financial and other reasons. I realize your concern when I read stats. According to Susan Linn, a psychologist at Harvard’s Judge Baker Children’s Center and author of and#8220;The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized Worldand#8221; kids today spend more than 40 hours a week engaged with electronic media including TV, Internet, cell phones, MP3 players and DVDs. What we need to do here is remember there are a million and one fun things to do in the summer months that do not require electricity.

When most of us think about our childhood summers, we think about playing outside until it got dark, riding our bikes around the neighborhood, or exploring our own backyard. We have very few memories of being indoors. A web posting on supports the benefits of outdoor play through the results of a recent study. and#8220;European and international health experts say a new study makes the most convincing case yet for the benefits of children being active. They say the research may lead to new guidelines saying youngsters between ages 5 and 16 need to be active up to one to two hours a day.and#8221; Furthermore, lead author of the research, Dr. Lars Bo Andersen said, and#8220;Just making sure children play outside will double the amount of physical activity they get.and#8221;

Currently our own government’s physical activity guidelines recommend children and adolescents do an hour or more of moderate-intensity to vigorous aerobic physical activity each day. Many exercise experts believe children today are too sedentary, which is contributing to the excess weight in one-third of children in the USA. and#8220;Besides being creative and inexpensive, many traditional childhood activities are great ways to strengthen kid” muscles, bones and heart,and#8221; says Cheryl Richardson, the senior program manager of physical education for the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, a group of physical education and sports professionals.

Take some time reliving a few of your own summertime memories with your brood and see if you can all burn a few calories while having some fun the old fashioned way. You might really surprise yourself to learn you still enjoy a rigorous game of capture the flag.

I guarantee playing with you and watching your old moves come back to life will entertain your children far better than any video game. Plus you’ll be their hero if you win!

and#8212; If you have a parenting puzzler for Mama Mia at the KidZone Museum in Truckee e-mail or call 587-KIDS.

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