My son is a couch potato. There, I said it.
Up until this moment, it is something that I have uttered to only those closest to me.
On any given day, when not in school, my child prefers to sit in front of the television or play with the IPAD, Nintendo DS or the computer. He is most certainly a gadget-guy and this is where his interests lie.
Sure, he’s involved in sports; he’s a swimmer and soccer player. But if given the opportunity he would much rather be home, in his pajamas, watching his favorite shows, catching a YouTube video or just lounging around.
It’s not fun to admit your child is a couch potato. At some level I feel as if I have failed as a mom. There are times I have let his television, computer or game time go beyond his allotted time because, well…it’s easier. If I have a ton of work to get done in the house or am rushing to get dinner on the table the television becomes my babysitter and sometimes my best friend.
Tendencies towards couch potato-ness is an anomaly for me. I was an active kid and a tom-boy of sorts. What’s more interesting, I have another son who is the exact opposite. He prefers to be outside ALL-THE-TIME. How can I have two children, raised by the same parents and exposed to the same things, be so completely different? Is it just their disposition?
I am not alone in my concern over my little couch potato. In a recent survey conducted by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, “39 percent of respondents ranked not getting enough exercise as a big problem.” And, I am sure you have seen the recent campaigns and public ads about childhood obesity and the importance of exercise for today’s youth. Clearly it’s a problem that is not only affecting me and my son.
I am struggling with ways to engage my child more with the outdoors. As a full-time, working mommy, it’s difficult to work all day, pick up the kids from their after-care program, make dinner and feed everyone, give the boys a bath and find enough time to squeeze in outdoor play. By the time I get home it is often after 5:00 p.m., my husband often doesn’t get home until 6:30 p.m. or later due to an horrible commute, and before we know it, it’s 8:00 p.m. and it’s time to get the boys into bed. I often feel a case of the mommy guilt, on multiple levels – for sure.
My husband and I both realize our son’s lack of outdoor motivation could become a huge problem as he gets older. We are trying to incorporate opportunities for movement whenever and wherever we can. If my son wants to watch his favorite show, we do a series of jumping jacks together with him before the television gets turned on. My husband also initiates games of chase with the boys and they run frantically around the house – now mind you, it’s a 7 a.m. in the morning – but hey, at least they are moving. Or, before bed time, my boys love to play this little game they created called, “Who gives the bad guys power?” (I have no idea where the name came from). To play, they run and jump towards my husband – ninja style. It’s often hilarious to watch (I’m not allowed to play) and really gets them moving.
For now, this is our little way of invoking change. It’s not the perfect solution but we are tackling our couch potato one small step at a time.
I am interested in hearing from some of the other parents out there.
Is your kid a couch potato?
Are you worried about your child’s lack of exercise?
What are you doing to keep them moving?