| 12.5°C Dublin

Fitness and fun with the kids

With the weather getting better and the traffic becoming lighter it's officially summer – but, of course, this can present some challenges if you are a parent facing two months where your children have no routine.

It can be difficult to find the right activity for children, yet it's so important to keep them active and away from lengthy stints in front of the television and computer screens.

This week, I am going to show you many ways to turn this holiday into a fantastic opportunity for you to show your children just how great fitness can be.

However, before I elaborate on this, let me put a question to you: is there any reason why you would not get involved yourself? There is no better way of creating a healthy household.

No matter what age your child is, there are plenty of options when it comes to organised camps such as:

Multi-sport camps: These give your child a huge variety of sports to try out and have fun with. Local schools and sports clubs tend to run them and, having been involved in one when I was younger, I know just how good they are.

Language colleges: These colleges provide educational classes during the day and sports in the afternoons. It's a great way to learn and have fun at the same time. They are generally for slightly older children and run for a two to three-week period.

Sport-specific camps: There are so many around the country for sports including soccer, Gaelic, rugby, volleyball, horse riding and swimming, to name but a few. If your child is a budding Roy Keane, then a specific soccer school would be a good idea.


If the idea of a camp does not appeal to you or the costs are a little outside of your budget and you have a few children, then why not get together with a few of your fellow parents and take it in turn to organise a fun active afternoon, where each parent organises games and activities?


Sports should be about fun when you are young, so please try to emphasise to your family that winning is not the be all and end all. It is about getting involved and trying new things. If you are a parent who screams abuse at the referee during the Under-9s friendly match, then shame on you. You're setting such a bad example for your child and the children around you.


Another aspect of the summer, which is great, is the variety of food we eat. If you are concerned with your child's diet then why not use the summer to change it? Slowly introduce healthier fresh foods into their diet. Again, this is your chance to lead by example.


Look around your local schools for clubs and camps in your area – what better benefit than giving your child the gift of fitness fun for the summer?

There are many new forms of summer projects which are a little different. Maybe give your children the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, it can be great fun and can stay with them forever. You may be producing the next big star.

Also, drama is a great area for a child to enhance confidence. Most of all, let your children be children and let them enjoy playtime. Try to refrain from the military style regime where some parents schedule activity for every hour with a result they never have time to be children.


Parents do sometimes push their child too hard and this can turn them away from the sport or other activity. Equally you can over-protect your kids – if little Johnny falls and cuts his knee, remember that accidents happen and it's a part of growing up. Don't let your child become too precious – cuts and bruises are the norm for children.


Keep your children out of the gym, it's not healthy – they should be outdoors with other children playing. Gyms are generally for adults and may encourage children to use heavy weights and machines at too young an age.