🥳 Unlock 14 Days of Fun: Try Our App Free and Create Engaging Activities for Your Kids! 🥳
Published Apr 15, 2024 ⦁ 15 min read
Physical Play Activities: Guide for Busy Parents

Physical Play Activities: Guide for Busy Parents

Keeping your kids active is crucial for their overall health and development, but as busy parents, it can be challenging to fit physical play into your daily routine. This guide offers simple and effective strategies to incorporate more physical activities into your family's life, regardless of your schedule. Here's what you'll find:

  • The benefits of physical play include improved physical health, cognitive and academic performance, and social and emotional well-being.
  • Challenges busy parents face, such as lack of time, competing priorities, reliance on screens, safety concerns, limited space, and bad weather.
  • Simple and effective physical play activities that can be done indoors, outdoors, and according to season.
  • Making physical play a family event with tips on scheduling regular family walks, signing up for charity runs/walks, launching family fitness challenges, planning active game nights, and assigning family fitness chores.
  • Tips for adding more play into everyday life, like mixing play with daily tasks, trying activity apps, setting a daily play time, sharing playtime with other parents, and choosing active ways to get around.
  • Overcoming common obstacles to keep kids moving, including refusal to play, playing without a lot of equipment, braving bad weather, finding time as a working parent, and staying motivated.

Additionally, you'll discover a range of resources for further inspiration and ideas to keep your kids engaged in physical play.

Physical Health Benefits

Active play is great for kids’ bodies:

  • Helps build strong muscles and bones
  • Keeps their weight healthy
  • Lowers the chance of getting sick with things like diabetes or heart disease when they grow up
  • Makes them better at moving and coordination
  • Helps their heart and lungs get stronger

The more they play, the healthier they’ll be.

Cognitive and Academic Benefits

Playing also makes kids smarter:

  • Helps them remember things better and focus
  • Makes learning easier and can even improve their grades
  • Boosts creativity and problem-solving

When kids are active, more blood goes to their brain, and this helps their brain cells grow.

Social and Emotional Benefits

And, it’s not just about the body. Playing with others teaches important life skills:

  • Makes kids more confident
  • Helps them learn to share, take turns, and work together
  • Teaches them how to manage their feelings
  • Reduces feelings of worry, sadness, and stress

Playing helps kids learn how to get along with others and feel good about themselves.

Keeping kids active is really worth it. It makes them healthier, happier, and smarter. Encouraging regular physical play is a great way to help your kids now and in the future.

The Challenges Busy Parents Face

Being a parent is tough, especially when you're trying to juggle work, taking care of the house, and making sure your kids are happy and healthy. One big challenge is finding time for your kids to play and be active. Here's a look at some common hurdles:

Lack of Time and Energy

  • Jobs and getting to and from work eat up a lot of the day
  • Cleaning and other house tasks use up any leftover time
  • At the end of the day, parents are too tired and just want to relax
  • It's tough to get the kids moving when you're feeling wiped out

Finding time for fun and games can seem like just one more thing to do.

Competing Priorities

  • Schools often care more about grades than gym time
  • Kids might have lots of lessons, like piano or dance
  • Everyone's so busy that there's hardly any time left to just play

With so much going on, playing outside or running around often gets missed out.

Reliance on Screens

  • It's easy to let kids watch TV or play on tablets
  • Cutting down on screen time is hard when it's everywhere
  • When screens are the main entertainment, other fun activities get ignored

Too much screen time means less time for active play.

Safety Concerns

  • Parents worry about kids getting hurt while playing
  • There's also fear about strangers or bullying
  • Many parents don't feel good about letting their kids play outside alone

These fears can keep kids indoors more than they should be.

Limited Space and Bad Weather

  • Not enough room at home or outside for playing
  • Too hot or too cold weather can make outside play hard
  • Rain or snow means staying inside more often

Not having the right places or good weather can make it hard for kids to play outside.

Despite these challenges, finding ways for your kids to be active is really important. It might take a bit of effort and creativity, but it's definitely possible.

Simple and Effective Physical Play Activities

It can be tough to keep kids moving, but you don't need anything fancy. Here are easy ways for busy parents to get their kids active, whether you're stuck inside or can head outdoors.

Indoor Activities

When you can't go outside, these fun ideas don't need special stuff:

  • Dance parties - Turn on some music and dance around the living room.
  • Obstacle courses - Arrange chairs and pillows to crawl over and under.
  • Balloon volleyball - Stretch a piece of string across a room and tap a balloon back and forth.
  • Animal walks - Pretend to be different animals, like jumping like frogs or walking like penguins.
  • Yoga - Look up free yoga videos for kids and do them together.

Outdoor Activities

If the weather's nice, try these games outside:

  • Backyard soccer - Use whatever you have to make goals and kick a ball around.
  • Family bike rides - Take a ride around your area.
  • Nature scavenger hunts - Make a list of things to find outside, like leaves or rocks.
  • Outdoor relay races - Take turns running short distances and passing something small as a baton.
  • Hiking - Find trails nearby to walk and explore.

Seasonal Activities

Change up your activities with the seasons:

  • Summer - Play in the sprinkler, have water balloon fights, go swimming outside.
  • Fall - Jump in piles of leaves, roll pumpkins, visit corn mazes.
  • Winter - Go sledding, have snowman building contests, help shovel snow together.
  • Spring - Draw with sidewalk chalk, fly kites, start a garden.

Mixing things up with these activities keeps it fun and gets everyone moving!

Making Physical Play a Family Event

Getting active together is a great way for families to bond. When parents join in, they show their kids how to live a healthy life. Here are some simple ideas to get the whole family moving and having fun:

Schedule Regular Family Walks

  • Try to go for a walk together 2-3 times a week
  • Bring the dog or play some tunes to make it more fun
  • Use this time to talk and catch up with each other

Sign Up For Charity Runs/Walks

  • This is a cool way to aim for a fitness goal as a family
  • It's also a chance to teach your kids about helping others
  • Practicing for the event can help everyone stay on track

Launch Family Fitness Challenges

  • Compete to see who can do the most jumping jacks or pushups
  • Set a daily step goal for everyone
  • Small prizes like stickers can keep the kids excited

Plan Active Game Nights

  • Play games like Twister, balloon volleyball, or have dance-offs
  • These games get everyone moving and laughing
  • Grab some healthy snacks for after the games

Assign Family Fitness Chores

  • Work on the garden, rake leaves, or shovel snow together
  • Doing chores as a team can make them more enjoyable
  • This also teaches kids about responsibility and staying active

The main thing is to find activities that your family likes doing together. Spending quality time while showing healthy habits is key. Try to do something active 2-3 times a week. Even small steps can lead to big changes in how your family lives.

Tips for Adding More Play into Everyday Life

Making sure your kids get enough playtime might seem tough with a busy schedule, but it's totally possible with a bit of planning and some creative ideas. Here are some easy tips to help your kids be more active every day:

Mix Play with Daily Tasks

  • Get your kids to help with outdoor chores like picking up leaves or pulling weeds. It's a great way to move more and help out at home.
  • Make cleaning fun by racing to see who can put toys away the fastest or who can make their bed the quickest.
  • Cook together and let your kids do the mixing, stirring, and kneading. These kitchen activities are good for moving around.

Try Activity Apps

  • Use apps that track steps, exercise, and how much they move. It can make staying active fun.
  • Kids might like seeing their progress and earning rewards on these apps.
  • Let them choose the app or gadget. It makes them more excited to use it.

Set a Daily Play Time

  • Decide on a family rule to be active for 30-60 minutes every day.
  • Put this playtime in your calendar or set phone reminders.
  • Treat this time like any other important thing you have to do.

Share Playtime with Other Parents

  • Take turns with other parents watching the kids. This way, you get a break, and the kids still get to play.
  • It's a good way to make sure kids have fun playing together while parents take turns having some time off.

Choose Active Ways to Get Around

  • Walk to school with your kids when you can.
  • Let them ride bikes or scooters to nearby places.
  • This is a good way to add more exercise to your day.

Create Play Zones at Home

  • Set up different areas in your backyard for activities like obstacle courses, drawing with chalk, or playing ball games.
  • Keep things like balls, chalk, and hula hoops ready for them to use.
  • This lets kids play on their own while you're busy with dinner or other tasks.

The main idea is to make play a regular part of your day. It might take some effort and planning, but it's worth it for your kids' health.


Overcoming Common Obstacles

It can be tough to keep kids moving, but don't worry, there are ways to tackle the common problems many parents face. Here's how to deal with some usual challenges.

Getting Past Refusal to Play

Sometimes kids don't want to play. Here's what you can do:

  • Offer choices: Ask them if they'd prefer to play tag or kickball. This lets them decide.
  • Make it social: Having friends over or going to the park can make playtime more appealing.
  • Set an example: Join in the fun. Kids like to do what their parents do.
  • Use rewards: Small rewards like stickers or a little extra bedtime story can encourage them to play.

Playing Without Lots of Equipment

You don't need fancy toys for fun activities. Use what you have at home:

  • Make a ball out of rolled-up socks.
  • Cardboard boxes can be tunnels or forts.
  • Move furniture aside for an indoor obstacle course.
  • Draw with chalk outside for target practice.

Be creative with what you've got.

Braving Bad Weather

Don't let the weather stop you. Here are some tips:

  • Dress right for the weather with coats and boots.
  • Look for the best time to go outside, like when it's warmer or not raining.
  • Set up indoor obstacle courses when it's stormy.
  • After it snows, try building a snowman or sledding.

A little weather shouldn't keep you indoors.

Finding Time as a Working Parent

Busy schedules make it hard, but you can:

  • Plan outdoor time on weekends or evenings as a must-do.
  • Split watching the kids with your partner or friends.
  • Let kids play outside while you're busy but check on them now and then.
  • Do your tasks while the kids play nearby.

Staying Motivated

If you or the kids start to lose interest, try these ideas:

  • Everyone takes turns choosing fun activities.
  • Set goals for how much you move each week and celebrate when you reach them.
  • Look for new activity ideas online or in apps.
  • Invite friends to join. It's more fun with others.

Stick with it, and playtime will become a fun part of your day.

Additional Resources

Here are some helpful places to look if you want to find ways to get your kids moving more and enjoying physical play:

Websites and Articles

Social Media Accounts

  • @healthykids - A Twitter account that shares ways to keep kids fit.
  • @activekids - An Instagram page full of fun ways for kids to be active.
  • Active Kids - Facebook - This page shares tips and research on keeping kids moving.


  • NFL Play 60 - A program by the NFL to make exercise fun for kids. You can sign up your child here.
  • Let's Move Outside - A part of a bigger initiative aimed at encouraging kids to play outside.

These resources are great for finding new ways to help your kids enjoy physical play. They offer tips, inspiration, and activities to get the whole family moving!


It's really important to keep kids active, but we know it's not always easy when you're busy. The good news is that you don't need a lot of fancy stuff or a lot of time to help your kids move around more. With some creative thinking, you can find simple ways to include more physical play.

Here are the main points to remember:

  • Know why play is important. Being active helps your kids be healthier, smarter, and happier. Making time for play teaches them good habits.
  • Look for chances to be active in your daily life. Add active games to everyday tasks or make sure play is a regular part of your day. Even small changes can make a big difference.
  • Be creative when facing challenges. Sometimes the weather's bad, you don't have much space, or you just don't feel like it. You can get past these hurdles by trying new things, setting goals, or getting friends involved.
  • Start small and go from there. Don't try to do too much at once. Aim to slowly add more physical play activities each week. Celebrate any progress to keep motivated.

The most important thing is to just start. It might take some effort to find what works for your family. But putting effort into play now will have big benefits for your kids later.

Focus on finding activities your kids really like. Make playtime a special time to be together. And remember to join in the fun yourself! Moving more can make your whole family happier and healthier.

How can you fit physical activity into a busy schedule?

Here are some easy ways to add more movement into a packed day:

  • Walk or bike for part of your commute if you can.
  • While your kids are at sports, don't just sit and watch. Walk around the area instead.
  • Pair up with a friend who also wants to be more active. It's easier to stick with it when you're not alone.
  • Use your work breaks to go for a short walk outside.
  • Get off the bus or subway one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.

How do you fit exercise into a busy schedule with kids?

  • Break up your exercise into short bits throughout the day:
  • Park further away from stores.
  • Choose stairs over elevators.
  • Walk or bike for short trips.
  • Use some of your lunchtime for a quick walk.
  • Plan to exercise right before or after you pick up your kids from school or their activities.

What are fun exercise activities for family?

Here are some enjoyable ways to get moving as a family:

  • Play tag, swim, throw a ball around, jump rope, or use a hula-hoop.
  • Have a dance party with everyone's favorite songs.
  • Go on walks, runs, or bike rides together.
  • Visit playgrounds for free play.
  • Always opt for stairs when you can.
  • Turn chores like gardening or car washing into active family tasks.

How can I keep physical activity fun for my child?

  • Let them try different sports and games to see what they like best.
  • Plan family outings that include physical activities.
  • Involve them in active household chores.
  • Set up fun obstacle courses or activity zones at home.
  • Play their favorite tunes during exercise time.
  • Offer small rewards for trying hard and joining in.

Related posts