One of my children is wildly unadventurous. It is just who he is. At six years old he would much rather sit with a good book or some Lego and chill out. He has never wanted to learn to ride a bike or go for a hike. He doesn't like to climb or jump. He has always been this way and that's ok. All I want for him is to be healthy and happy. My concern is that he will live through what I did. That his lack of movement will become unhealthy and that he will become miserable. Don't get me wrong, I love that he is a reader as I love to escape into a great book and let the world outside fall away as I enter the imaginary world of what I am reading but over the years I have learned the importance of balance. The hard way.
This summer I signed my children up for an outdoor camp. They swim and horseback ride and practice archery. They come home filthy, tired and sun kissed. As it should be. On camp days my son is harder to get out of bed and though he complains about having to go he always comes home having had a great time. I know that with some incentive he can learn to love adventures. The children are there twice a week but on days they are home with me, my daughter (four years old) and I want to GO. We want to have adventures and be active and move but my son would rather get into a book or a video game. I understand the need for down time but I want to help him find balance before it finds him.
During the school year we make deals. If I sign you up for Mad Science after school then I am also signing you up for soccer, which he ends up enjoying. This has been working well. We compromise. Over the summer though it's been more difficult.
Enter Pokemon Go.
Of course I was hesitant at first. Any screen time gives me pause. I have a history of not being able to balance my own down time, I am an all or nothing type person (though I am working hard on it) and so the idea of another game to occupy my family's time seemed like a bad idea. Not to mention all the negative things people are saying out there. Then my husband, who my son is a lot like, showed me his game and told me he has been going for walks daily at lunch time. He told me about people he knows who have not been very active at all in their lives and have become obese who are now walking 5-10 miles a day. I began to see the possibilities. Yes, people are crossing streets at dangerous places and not fully paying attention to their surroundings and obviously it is every individuals responsibility to be vigilant and safe but there is so much to be said for people getting out and moving their bodies. We all thought that Nintendo Wii had something going on when they released their sports activities where you had to stand and move. This game is the next level.
Yesterday morning before it got too hot I decided to introduce the game to my children. I had played a little bit to get the feeling for it on one of my daily walks and so I logged in and let him look at it without walking, just in the house. I explained to him that Pokeman will appear and you can catch them and about the Pokestops (That's as far as we have gotten in the game) but that we had to go for a walk or a hike to find them. He was obviously very happy to try it and it didn't even bother him that we had to go for a walk in order to play. We went on our first Pokewalk and after dinner the kids wanted to go again. For the first time ever, my son is excited to go for walks and when I introduced the idea that we could go for a Pokehike as a family on the weekend he was even more excited.
For our family this is working. Yesterday my husband had an errand to run and rather than hop in the car he checked to see if it was close enough to walk. I think it's working for a lot of other people too. I walk everywhere that I can but living in LA I am an anomaly. Most people here do not walk places. Some people go for hikes as there is great hiking here but seldom do people walk around the city and suburbs. Last night on our after dinner walk though, the neighborhood had come alive. There where people everywhere. Yes, they all had their phones out but they were also outdoors and moving their bodies. There are so many positive things about this game that I think overshadow the negative. If we can all remember to play safe I think games like this are a great gateway to being active in other ways as well. Let's not dismiss it too fast.
Safe Pokemon Go-ing