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Wondering what to do with the family on spring break? Here are 14 healthy — and fun — ideas for you

| Healthy You | 5-2-1-0 | Kids Health

Grandmother, young child and grandfather walking on a wooded trail in the Pacific Northwest USA

A little creativity can keep everyone’s brains and bodies engaged.

Whether you’re traveling somewhere new, or your spring break has more of a staycation vibe, there are lots of low-key ways to combine family togetherness with healthy habits.

Here are a few ideas for how to pass the time, recommended by PeaceHealth experts in pediatrics, family medicine and nutrition.

Shake up your eating plans:

  1. Get your steps in. Instead of driving to the coffee shop or a restaurant for meals, put on your sneakers and try walking to your destination. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and see the sights along the way.
  2. Find a meal to prepare together. Cooking and meal planning can be a great way to spend family time away from screens. If you have cookbooks or magazines to flip through, great. Otherwise, explore healthy food blogs such as PeaceHealth's recipe site. Talk about new recipes to test. Next time you go food shopping, ask each family member to find one new fruit or vegetable to try in a recipe and see which ones you like best.
  3. Be creative with fruits and veggies. With April Fools’ Day coming up soon, food offers an opportunity for some gentle pranks. One example: make Jell-O in a drinking glass — adding chunks of fruit and a straw. It will look like juice, but — surprise! — it’s too thick to drink. Little tricks like this, done in a considerate spirit, can make your family smile.
  4. Make it a picnic. Eating outside when conditions are right (not too rainy or hot, windy or buggy) can be a fun family memory… and can help kids have positive association with foods. If you have a picky eater on your hands, try plating their food in a muffin tray or as “kid-cuterie” on a baking sheet.

Spend time in the fresh air:

  1. Go for a bike ride. If the weather allows, consider dusting off the bikes you stored for the winter. Check each bike for safety. See if your helmets are in good shape and still fit. (Watch this video on picking and fitting a helmet.) No bike? Check for free or low-cost bicycles online or at garage sales. Some areas offer bike-sharing programs, such as PeaceHealth Rides – Eugene Bike Share in Eugene, Oregon.
  2. Explore the neighborhood with a new point of view. If you’re staycationing, go for a walk through your neighborhood. On vacation, wander through a nearby park or along a walking trail. Look for signs of spring, like new blooms. Take photos. For little ones, try counting the trees in your area. For older kids, talk about the kinds of trees you see — evergreen, flowering and fruit.
  3. Get outdoors while clocked in. If you must do some work remotely while the family is on break, plan to take meetings outside. Plug in your earphones and take a few laps around the neighborhood or to a nearby destination to get some steps.

Bring a playful attitude indoors:

  1. Have a 5-minute dance break. Does your family have a favorite song? Create some dance steps to go with it. Is there a dance scene in your family’s must-watch movie? Get everyone up off the couch and follow along … to the best of your ability. Whatever gets them (and you) moving is the idea. Who knows. Your new dance routine could become a family tradition — one that’s special and all your own.
  2. Gather for a game night. After dinner, it can be so easy to drift to the couch for a movie or start scrolling on your phone. Mark your calendar for a night or two to play board games instead. If you have houseguests or are traveling with friends, ask them to bring a new game to try — you might discover a new favorite.
  3. Catch! Grab a ball. Soccer ball. Beach ball. Spongey ball. You can use any kind of ball that’s appropriate for your child’s age and safe to use inside. If there’s more than two of you, use more balls or take turns throwing to each person in a circle. It’s good for building hand-eye coordination. And it’s easy to talk with each other while you do it.

Try a new activity:

  1. Take it to the water. If you’re in a place where it’s warm, outdoor aquatic activities may be just the thing. Kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding not only challenge your core but also allow you to take a break to enjoy the surroundings. In cooler weather, check about pool access at a nearby YMCA or community center. Many offer day passes and spring break programming.
  2. Try tai chi. This form of exercise is easier for people who don’t want to get down on the floor, which is necessary for activities like yoga and Pilates. You can join a local class or sign up for a virtual option to do it at home. The gentle movements work wonders for people of all ages.
  3. Go fishing. This can be a fun way to lure your family into moving (pun intended!). Look for local opportunities on the Kids Fish Free site. If you don’t have the time, place or right equipment, have the kids use their imagination instead. A stick and a string tied to a clothespin or paperclip make an easy substitute. Try casting in the yard or the living room.
  4. Combine community service and physical activity. You could do an informal neighborhood cleanup by picking up any trash you see during a walk to the park or around the block. Or you could sign up with a local group to help plant trees or clean up local green spaces, beaches and other public areas.

12 months’ worth of ideas

For more family-friendly ideas, check out PeaceHealth’s 5-2-1-0 resources to build healthy habits at any age — grownups included. Here’s what the numbers represent every day:

  • 5 veggies and fruits
  • 2 hours or fewer of screen time
  • 1 hour of exercise
  • 0 sugary drinks

There’s a lot of flexibility in this framework, so you can change it up month after month.