Story and I recently learned about sitting disease. Apparently sitting is the new smoking. (I won’t get into the list of maladies linked to sitting; it’s too depressing. Suffice it to say, it’s bad.) We started to take stock of how much we sit during the day, and it’s a lot. With work (I’m an editor) and school (fewer recesses than I remember as a kid), our weekdays find us more often down than up. But even beyond that, we sit a lot — at dinner, in the car, to watch a movie, to play a video game, to pet and snuggle the dogs, etc. The worst part is, going to the gym daily won’t counteract the negative effects of sitting. What’s a busy mom to do?
Get up, right? That’s a lot easier said than done. In my case, I essentially read most of the day, and my work requires maximum concentration. When I get into a groove, it’s nothing for me to look up four hours later and be surprised that half the workday is gone. Those are great days, productive, feel-good days. If I have to be up every twenty minutes, as some experts recommend, I won’t get anything done. It will take me the next twenty minutes just to get that focus back, and then I’ll have to be up again. Okay, I know this sounds like a big, fat excuse. But it’s true! And I’m sure several of you are in the same position.
And then there’s Story. She is sitting at school most of the day. She’s exercising her mind but not her body. When she gets home, we are usually off in the car to some place or another. If not and she can’t play with the neighbors, she’s reading, writing, playing a video game, telling me or the dogs a story, or drawing. She’s a creative. And I want to encourage that, but I also need to instill healthy lifestyle activities, aka get her up and moving.
We talked about it and decided that we would each try our best during the day to at least stand up and stretch each hour. (I’m wondering if I’m going to have to talk to her teacher about this.) When we’re together at home in the evenings, we sacrifice five minutes of every hour, whether we have been sitting or not, to the play gods. We’ve created a list of approved activities, so we aren’t spending all the time trying to decide what to do, and we alternate choosing the activity (there’s only so much tickle monster I can take). Here’s our list:
- Dance party
- Shark in the water (we have to move around the room not touching the floor)
- Tickle monster
- Act out a story
- Balloon volleyball
- Animal call (one person calls out an animal and we have to move and sound like it)
- Follow the leader
We’ve only done this for a few days, but I’ve noticed that not only are we getting the blood flowing, but we’re also genuinely enjoying ourselves. It’s so easy to get caught up in housework, dinner, laundry, and all those other must-dos at home that I can neglect playing with my daughter. This is an efficient way to positively impact both our bodies and our relationship.