Keeping 4 Year Old Active...Suggestions? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 03-30-2014, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
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My DS is four and my DD is 16 months and still not sleeping through the night. I'm exhausted. My husband works full time, I work part time and my husband is going to school full time. We have a lot of balls in the air. I'm not sure what to do with my DS. Right now he plays soccer. He got hit in the chest with the ball (he was blocking it) a couple of weeks ago and since then he has done as little as possible on the field. I'm frustrated because we paid for this, but whatever. He's out there he's moving around twice a week. He says he doesn't want soccer anymore. I'm making him finish out the season we paid for because I don't believe in quitting half way through the season.He said he wanted to do gymnastics. My mom's best friend is the office manager at a sorta local (it's about a 30 minute drive from me) gym. I called her up got the details new secession starts April 19th. No problem. He was all excited last week. This week was spring break. It rained most days and he hung out with his Grandmother and didn't really do much. Now he says he doesn't want to do anything. I offered him dance (my mom owns a dance studio), volleyball, basketball, baseball, swimming lessons, horse back riding lessons, karate, and tennis. He said no to all. "I don't want to do anything. I want to play (video) games." I would be happy to keep the extra money, we could use it, but I rather pay for him to be in some sort of group activity. If I thought for one minute I would be disciplined enough to get him outside to play more then I do now then I wouldn't care. I'm just so tired. So very very very very tired. He won't be in school for the summer so want to make sure he has other kids to do something with.


So my question for all of you is are there any other activities I have missed? I just don't know what to do with him. Am I pushing him too much? I'm so tired (have I mentioned this) and I can't even see straight anymore.


Thank you

I've got a son named Trenton born Sept 15th, 2009 and a daughter named Graelyn born November 27th, 2012. Plus two furbabies, Chester the rabbit, and Henry the dog.
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#2 of 10 Old 03-30-2014, 05:39 PM
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I hear you on the tired. I, oddly enough, get more sleep with 5 kids than I ever had with 2 or 3. When I look back on that time, I am amazed I ever did anything. So incredibly tired.

Have you considered videos? My kids have done dancing ones, and karate. I'm sure you could find them for all kinds of stuff.

Also, I have always had my kids run laps around the house, and do various body weight exercises For a while we had a trampoline in the living room. We have put a swing in a doorway, and had a balance beam behind the couch, too. My oldest kids didn't start running any great distance until fairly recently, but I've been surprised at how far my younger ones can go. Dd2 just turned 5 and runs a mile at least three times a week. Dd3 is 3, and runs 3 laps on an 800 m track. I just figured out how far it is around our large yard and cul de sac. I sit on the yard swing with my youngest, anshe and sorry...autocorrect trouble... and watch the big kids run.

As far as activities, we have gotten a lot more mileage out of shorter preograms. Week long camps are great because the kids dont get bored, and I feel like we actually accomplished something. I think weekly lessons give me way more activity than them, by the time we are all dressed and ready and drive back and forth. It's a whole lot of effort for 30-60 minutes of gymnastics! Oh, hour long private swim lessons are worth it, though.

Also, check your local parks and rec for upcoming events.

And, lastly, don't forget good ole chores as a way to keep him moving. Four year olds can fold their clothes, make their beds, and empty bathroom trash cans. They can also pack diaper bags, chop select veggies for dinner, and measure rice, etc. Mine love to load the crockpot. He's got energy and you don't, and he'd love to be "big", so teach him how to truly help you so you can rest some.

I know you want him to have the interaction of other kids, too. I was just suggesting that there are ways of helping him be active without having to do activities. Then, your activities for socialization oppotunities broaden. Library storytime comes to mind. Or, again, parks and rec here has tons of options.
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#3 of 10 Old 03-30-2014, 07:11 PM
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He's four.  Mostly what he's saying refers to right now.  Though, with such a negative soccer experience, he is probably dreading that, but as far as other activities he doesn't have enough of a reference to really make up his mind.  He's thinking *now*.


A recreational gymnastics class probably isn't as time intensive as soccer.  Our gym (50 minutes away, BTW) offers 45 minute classes to 4yo.  We did once a week.  But before we did classes, we did *open gym*!!!  I strongly recommend you ask the gym if they have open gym, or "indoor playground" as it was called here.  Seriously cheap.  Seriously great fun.  And best of all for parents of littles (oh I was there once a upon a time!) is that you don't sign up, you only pay when you go play.  Once a week.  Once a month.  Every other month.  Once a week and then not for 3 months.  Whatever.  It was a much, much better format for my kids who just wanted to play and play and never mind a class.  It was much more affordable, much more flexible.  We ended up doing the same for swimming, all that.


I did have to push the kids to get out of the house, for my own sanity.  My oldest especially would complain and complain, but she loved doing the activities.  And, the drive back was a surefire nap (after much complaining and crying, it was not an easy transition).


Good luck.  I am wary of organized activities for kids this age unless they absolutely *love* it.  I don't like the commitment.  But that changed as they got older.  


For now, it sounds like everybody just needs a break!  Don't worry about dropping the ball on exercise for a little time.  Sometimes the most energizing thing you can do for yourself and your families is to kick your feet up and relax.  The weather's getting warm.  The outdoors will call and break all of you out of your "funk".

"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
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#4 of 10 Old 03-30-2014, 07:40 PM
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Maybe its too many choice for him? I would make a choice that you think he will like that fits your schedule and your budget and do it. I would try something with a shorter time frame, maybe 6 weeks? Okay, we are going to try dance now! Today we are going to dance at 6! End of story.

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#5 of 10 Old 03-30-2014, 07:57 PM
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preschool, library programs and regular visits to play with their toys, playdates with other 4 year olds, once a day walks around the block (or longer, hopefully). you can do this with your baby, too. playgrounds and parks.

play places (mcdonalds or equivalent -- which are free, ones at the mall -- which are free, or the ones you pay for -- which are usually cleaner and more "upscale.")

put in a swing set or other playground equipment in your own back yard.

pool pass that you take him to splash around in.

splash park.

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#6 of 10 Old 03-30-2014, 08:47 PM
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I so understand this and just recently got out of my own funk. I'm still tired as hell but at least we're doing some stuff and getting out of the house.

I think many four year olds do not do well with the scheduled group stuff. If I ask my son what he wants to do and make suggestions, he will say, "I don't want to do anything. I just wanna watch TV." For a while I was so tired I went along with it. But now we have set days where we do stuff. I say, "It's Monday. Today is pool day" "It's Tuesday, library day." or "It's Wednesday, Park day."

I just stopped giving him a choice. Now he seems relieved and just says "Okay!" I think too many choices can be confusing and the scheduled group things are maybe too much pressure. Keep it fun and cheap! ;-)

Wife to one amazing husband superhero.gif, SAHM to DS bouncy.gif 10/09, DS babyboy.gif 10/19,  one furbaby dog2.gif, and lots of chicken3.gif!


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#7 of 10 Old 03-31-2014, 04:57 AM
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Organised classes were a bit much for mine at that age, they were not quite ready to follow instructions. For us it was closer to 6 when those sort of things started working.


Another poster suggested videos, they were great with my oldest. Kept her active an my sane when I was pregnant and exhausted. CDs of action songs were good too, especially if we got out some instruments to play along or ribbons to dance with.


Cranium hulabaloo has got us through some wet afternoons too. There are a load of mats you put out on the floor and then it tells you to jump to a square, hop to a red one or whatever. Each game is pretty short but they would play for quite a while. Handy for when we had friends round too.


Do you have an outside space where they can play? maybe look out for some cheep or used garden toys. The pop up tents & tunnels don;t take much storage space. A basket balls, tin can stilts and that sort of thing has got a lot of use hear too.


Ohh bubbles, kids love chasing bubbles, and I can sit in the sun blowing them.

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#8 of 10 Old 03-31-2014, 07:43 PM
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If by keeping him active you mean what activities to register him in, I wouldn't give him too many choices.. I know my 4 yo would be confused. I would just pick an activity that is offered in a community centre near you, or an activity that one of his friends, or you and your dh enjoy and go with that.
If you are asking how you can keep him active on a daily basis, I would just take him outside. Go to the park. Go in the back yard with a book and let them be bored. They'll find something to do. Go to the beach. If it rains, put some rainboots on and let them splash in the puddles. I always make an effort to take the kids outside unless it's below minus 20 Celsius or a thunderstorm.
I know you are tired, but I found it's more tiring to keep them inside and have them bouncing off the walls or play on the computer for hours.

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#9 of 10 Old 04-02-2014, 09:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all so much for the suggestions.

Maybe I have been giving him too many choices. He's just always thrived with multiple options. Whenever I try to force him to do something he doesn't want to do it's like arguing with the wall. STUBBORN (gets it from my DH of course).


I like the organized activities that I have to pay for if for no other reason then I paid for them so I know I'll get up and do them. lol

Thank you again

I've got a son named Trenton born Sept 15th, 2009 and a daughter named Graelyn born November 27th, 2012. Plus two furbabies, Chester the rabbit, and Henry the dog.
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#10 of 10 Old 04-03-2014, 12:47 PM
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Parks, walks, hikes, especially if you can arrange it with another kid.  If the younger child will let you wear her, those can be a way to escape the grinding feeling.  My kids weren't good at organized activities at that age.  Active for him doesn't have to be what we would do to stay active.  Just playing with another kid outside is active for a lot of kids.  My daughter didn't even need that other kid - she would happily climb on her own.


Beware the video monster.  My cousin was addicted and spent his whole childhood until high school graduation with his face a few feet away from a screen.  They really are addictive.  We restrict our kids to two 1/2 hours video per week, and because they are so aware it's restricted like that they never pester us to do it or refuse to do something because they'd rather be playing something on the computer.

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