Friday Night Family Fun & Fitness

Start your weekend on a healthier note. Here are four fun ways to bond with your family and instill good habits in your kids.

Beat the clock cleaning.

Turn on some music, set a timer, and clean! Leap frog as you pick up toys. Play wash basket basketball with laundry. Dance as you dust or vacuum. To clean the floor, sit on Swiffers and scoot or put them under your feet and slide. Be creative. You can set a timer for each task or for the entire time. Either way, remind your kids that sloppy work doesn’t count. Chores teach kids responsibility and help them understand that they are part of the family and everyone contributes. And, cleaning up now means fewer chores over the weekend!

Make fruit and veggie art.

Cut up a bunch of produce. If your kiddos are old enough, you can have them help. Combine their favorites with some new fruits and vegetables, like papaya or radishes, or others that they aren’t as fond of eating. You can use cookie cutters to make cool shapes, too. Add some dried fruit, nuts, nut butters, yogurt, or even treats like whipped cream or small candies as accents. Then, give each kid a plate and let them create a picture or sculpture out of the food. If your children are old enough, they can use toothpicks to build more vertical creations. After you admire the artwork, dig in! Eating more vitamin- and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables is good for everyone.

Play Chopped family edition.

If you’re not familiar with the Food Network game show, contestants receive mystery ingredients that they must incorporated into a meal. Give each child the same two to four mystery ingredients. They can be familiar items, such as chicken, rice, or ketchup, or introduce them to something new, such as jicama, coconut, or lima beans.  Children are more likely to try foods that they have had a hand in preparing. To round out their meal, you can take them shopping for other ingredients or let them pick from what you have at home. Then, set a time limit and have the kids cook simultaneously.  For young children, team them up with a parent for supervision and make a simple dish instead of an entire meal. When they are finished, have them present their culinary creations and sell you on why their delicacies are the best. Parents are the judges.

Break out the board games.

For a chill evening, a game of Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, or Sorry may be just the ticket. Playing board games is a great way to get kids away from electronics, encourage conversation (tell them stories about when you played these games as a kid), and build a variety of skills. If you have time, play several games, letting each child pick one. Games can teach colors, shapes, numbers, and letters, and develop math, language, and even motor skills.  Kids also learn how to take turns, and your reactions to winning and losing will help them to be good sports in the future. If you create a tradition of family game night when kids are young, they’ll be more likely to play with you when they are older. Just make sure you choose age-appropriate games for maximum fun and minimum meltdowns.

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