Let’s face it, it’s not just your bank account that will take a battering this Christmas.
There are so many temptations on offer, you’d have to be a saint to resist letting your hair down and enjoying all the tasty treats Christmas has to bring. And with an average of 4,000 calories consumed on Christmas day, you don’t need me to add to your guilt trip.
What I can do is suggest some of the ways you can combat the full tummy, work off some of those extra calories and enjoy days together as a family before the kids go back to school.
An outdoorsy Christmas
Chances are at least one of your children will get some outdoor play equipment from Father Christmas this year.
Rather than sending them out into the back garden to experiment with their new toys alone, join them. Getting the whole family involved will not only increase enjoyment but will be a fun way for everyone to burn off some calories. A brisk 30-minute walk can burn off as much as 150 calories, so even if Santa hasn’t bought bikes, scooters, cricket sets or footballs, the family can still benefit from moving together.
Wheelie good holidays
Bikes are a great way to get out together. Whether it’s cycling to the local park or taking a trip along the canal, Sustrans (sustrans.org.uk) has lots of different family-friendly cycle routes. If cycling isn’t for you, why not run alongside your kids as they pedal or scoot? Kids will love playing out and your interaction will only make it more fun for all of you.
Start as you mean to go on
While it’s tempting to let the kids watch TV or play on their new tablets – especially when the weather is bad – now is the time to get into good habits. The average UK child spends more than 17 hours a week in front of a device, so limiting their usage from the start will help you all stick to the rules. A festive treasure hunt is a great way of coaxing your kids away from their screens. You don’t need to hunt for sweets or prizes, you could look for landmarks or follow clues to a friend’s house.
If it’s raining, hide clues or treasure around the house and garden. The important thing is that you will be off the sofa and on your feet for at least an hour or so. Another great activity is searching for painted pebbles. There are lots of Facebook groups letting you know where pebbles can be found in your area. Why not paint your own on a rainy day and challenge family and friends to find them around the house, garden or park? You can even time groups to see who finds them first – encouraging everyone to move faster!
If you have older children who are simply too engrossed in their devices, why not try geocaching with them? It’s a modern form of treasure hunt where you follow GPS coordinates to find the ‘geocache’. It’s a fantastic way to keep the whole family both mentally and physically active. All you need to do is download the app (www.geocaching.com) and choose a treasure trail to follow. Each trail is graded so you can choose one to suit your group’s ability.
Exercise itself might not pique your children’s interest, but a sports or swimming session undoubtedly will. An afternoon in the pool will do the whole family the world of good. Or you could book a badminton or games court and enjoy playing together as a family. As pools and courts are indoors, there’s no getting rained off by the winter weather!
Lots of leisure centres, play centres and community groups also provide Christmas activities over the holiday period, so it’s worth checking out what is going on around you.
Take on a challenge
Despite shorter days and inclement weather, there are always plenty of organised running and walking activities taking place in your local parks and leisure centres. Whether it’s a 10k Boxing Day bash, a leisurely Christmas day walk or 1mile Yule Yomp, these organised events are the perfect way to set yourself an early new year challenge. As well as helping build stamina and endurance, studies show that running and walking are real mood boosters that can help kids (including the big ones) feel more carefree.
Not many of us relish the idea of cleaning up after Christmas.
But what if I told you that scrubbing the bathroom will help burn up to 250 calories an hour, and vacuuming 175? As long as you put enough effort in to raise your heart rate, make you breathe faster and feel warmer, you are doing yourself some good.
Why not make cleaning an exciting game for the whole family? You can even use pocket money or days out as a motivational tool – the more hands, the quicker it will take!
It’s likely most of us will over-indulge this Christmas, but recognising the little things you can do to offset the naughtiness will help ensure the whole family has a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.