When the schools break up for the summer holidays, it’s tempting to spend lazy days at home with the family and to fall into bad habits when it comes to what you’re eating. But new research has found that it’s important to ensure you pay attention to your children’s diet over the summer, as well as encouraging them to be active.
If you’re working as au pairs in the UK, you may want to find different ways of keeping the kids you’re looking after active.
The Daily Post reported on research carried out by UK Active, which found that, on average, children return to school after the summer break 80 per cent less fit than when they broke up for the holidays and have often put on weight.
During the study, researchers monitored children over the course of 13 months and noted that there was a steady decrease in the number of overweight and obese children during the school year.
However, during the six week summer break, the number of overweight and obese children increased by 24 per cent, while the average BMI across the whole group increased from 17.64 to 18.26 in the same period.
One of the big issues highlighted by the survey is the amount of time children spend watching TV or playing video games during the summer holidays.
The newspaper also cited research from Sainsbury’s, which found that UK children spend an average of 174 hours either watching TV or playing video games during the summer break. One-third of young people spend three to four hours every day in front of a screen.
But it’s not just the lack of physical activity that is causing youngsters to put on weight over the school holidays. What they’re eating often isn’t healthy either. Many eat too many saturated fats, as well as too much sugar, and not enough fruit and vegetables.
So, if you want to introduce more activity into the lives of the children you look after, what can you do?
An article for the Metro recently suggested some simple ways of including exercise in your daily routine – and many are things that kids may not even notice.
One of the simplest options is just to go for walks. If you have a dog then this can become part of your daily routine, but even if you don’t you can encourage them to walk to the park or make your walks fun by giving them things to look for along the way.
If you go to the park or the beach, encourage kids to run around once you get there. A frisbee or even just a ball can provide hours of fun and make you all active at the same time.
You don’t have to leave the house either. You can make an obstacle course for the kids to tackle. Getting them to climb over and under things, or giving them something to balance on, will be great fun and they’ll be exercising without even realising it. If it’s a hot day, you could finish up with a splash in the paddling pool in the back garden.