Park vs. Chicago Marathon

Encourage being active with your kids |

Welcome to my Weekend Warrior series. While I attend meetings, visit clients, crunch numbers in Excel, and do all other things “accounting-fabulous” (between musings about balancing life’s work as a modern mom, of course) during the work week, I spend my weekends with my family striving to lead a healthier life through physical fitness, cleaner and healthier eating, and just plain old spending time together. I suspect many of you play a similar hand of cards each weekend, so let’s discuss how we try to “have it all mostly.” 

A couple of weeks ago, we enjoyed a crisp fall morning perfect for a 26.2 mile run (which sounds a bit like an oxymoron to me because I’m not sure any time is every great for a 26.2 mile run, but 45,000 other people in Chicago this particular morning seemed to think otherwise). We live right on the path of the Chicago marathon, so just after waking up on a lazy Sunday morning, we headed down to the street where we live to watch a few friends pass by in the early part of their marathon. After seeing our friends pass, we headed back upstairs for some breakfast and continued to watch the rest of the 45,000 runners jog past our apartment. T (and me too, I suppose) love standing on the balcony watching them all run by.

The race passes within three blocks of our apartment three times throughout the course of the morning, so we’re pretty much locked in to our neighborhood until early afternoon. We made the aggressive move to try to walk to the park about half way through the race. On a beautiful morning, we couldn’t pass up watching all the runners stride past us and visiting one of the lovely parks not far from our home. Getting to the park would require crossing the race path, but we made some plans with friends who lived on “the other side” of the race course and headed over to meet them.


Waching the Chicago Marathon with the kids |

Chicago marathon runners, racing feet |

Waching the Chicago Marathon with the kids |

Chicago Marathon runners, view from above |

We got stuck! We thought we’d be able to sneak across the street during an opening in the crowd of runners. But with our comparatively compact and amazing double stroller, no such luck! After waiting for about 15 minutes in hopes of capitalizing on a break in the bunch, we gave up (sort of). I decided to take J back home; he needed a nap anyway. M got creative and joined the runners for about ten feet to cross among the pack and head over to the park without us.

Whenever possible, and especially on the weekends, we try to spend as much time outside playing with the boys, enjoying the limited nice weather we have in Chicago, and encouraging the little guys to be active and always playing. The boys are still little, so I suspect in due time they’ll ask for video games and similar sedentary entertainment. But for now, we don’t really have too many toys like that. They do watch TV occassionally, mostly when we need a parenting break to do things like cook dinner or regroup after getting home for work.

But exposing them to lots of parks and playgrounds, playing outside together, and events like the marathon and the triathlon has made them excited to be active and participate in these types of events as they get older. T already asks about “the runners” regularly and wants to be a runner. We’ve even essentially turned parts of our apartment into an indoor sports arena. This certainly won’t work for everyone, but with limited decor on the walls of a wide hallways leading into our main living space, M added a strike zone on the door to play baseball and has taught T many ways to play modified versions of just about every major sport with the miniature equipment and props we have in our apartment.

As examples:

Two little chairs from a toddler sized table with a foam roller laying across them 
become a tennis or volleyball net.
The island area in our kitchen transforms into a baseball field around 
which T runs every time he hits a “homerun.”
A one inch portion of an empty toilet paper roll (reinforced with duct tape) sits on the 
floor to act as a tee for a soft, small football T “punts” down the hallway. 
And our living room, which intentionally has no coffee table, becomes a 
soccer field or an ice arena when two miniature goals go up on each end. 

So even when it’s negative forty degrees outside in the Polar Vortex in January, we still create opportunities to play sports and be active in the smallest of spaces.

I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that sometimes it’s tough to forego TV and play a two year old version of hockey on my knees in our living room. At times, I just want to throw on the TV and read a few emails on the couch. (And sometimes I do this). But getting creative and making the most of nice weather, when we have the opportunity, has been great for the boys and for us as well.

Honestly, M is way better at these games and playing with the boys than me. But I do make an effort to get down on the ground and pick up a stick or a racket or a glove with regularity.

What do you do to play with the little ones? How do you keep them active (which should help keep each of us ourselves active as well)? Any favorite games or activities? I hear predictions of another polar vortex heading our way this winter, so I need all the ideas I can get!

While you’re thinking about it and sharing, you could also participate in the Tech Timeout Pin It to Win It sweepstakes through which you could win a $100 Amazon gift card for re-pinning one of the inspirational photos on the Tech Timeout board or you could pin a photo of your family taking a Tech Timeout, like our visit to the park! I figure it can’t hurt to share something great you’re already doing with your family in hope of wining a gift card, right?

That’s them, headed to the park!

Chicago marathon runners, racing feet |

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