One of the great things about Valentine's Day is that it coincides with American Heart Month. You can use this to your advantage to distract your child from all the chocolate and do some healthy heart Valentine activities instead! Here are a few ways to spend some time with your little Valentine and make your day a little sweeter.
- Make some healthy heart Valentine snacks with your child. At first, he might be disappointed not to be eating cupcakes, chocolate and red fruit punch, but presentation can go a long way in making up for a sweet tooth. Talk about healthy heart-shaped and Valentine-colored options like strawberries, heart-shaped muffins and a healthier pink drink like Sparkling Cranberry Punch.
- Take the opportunity to teach your child a little about his heart and the circulatory system. One important thing to stress is how aerobic exercise strengthens the heart. Even younger kids are able to understand the connection between a healthy heart and exercise. It will help your child make the connection that a real heart is more than a shape.
- Make your own stethoscope. With a couple of funnels, a little duct tape and a paper towel tube, you can make a rudimentary stethoscope that your child can use to listen to his heart. Once you’ve made it ask him to listen to his heart and count how many beats per minute he hears.
- Throw a "happy heart" dance party. If you have a Wii and one of the Just Dance games, it’s a great time to get the whole family up and moving. Of course, even without a Wii, you can still play dance music and boogie down.
Talk to your child about how dancing is aerobic exercise that will strengthen his heart as well as raising his spirits. To provide your point, have him listen to his heart again after he dances and take note of how much faster it's beating (which means it's working harder).
- Modify your Valentine’s Day cards to get your child up and moving. Purchase an inexpensive box of cards and instead of writing a message on each one, write an exercise for your child to try. As he reads them, ask him to perform the exercise. You might, for example, want to write down some simple stretching exercises or some other easy exercises you can do together.
- Play healthy heart hopscotch. Whether you live in a warm climate or a cold one, you can play this twist on the classic playground game. Simply replace the squares with hearts and you’re ready to go. If it’s too cold to play outside, with a little masking tape and some open space, you can play indoor hopscotch instead.
- Organize a Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt. This game gives you an opportunity not only to get your child moving throughout the house, but also to help him learn a little more about the people he loves. Provide your child with a list of items or clues leading him to find things that are important to each person in your household. You can include clues like:
**Find something that is your sister’s favorite color.
**Bring back your brother’s favorite food.
**This used to be your favorite book when you were younger.
**Find Daddy’s favorite song on his music player.
- Make a Valentine’s Day heart craft. These activities are a little slower in pace than the other heart healthy Valentine’s Day activities. Despite that, they’re not only a good way to slow down at the end of the day, but a good way to show your child that even though his heart plays an important role in keeping him healthy, other types of hearts can play an important role in making other people happy.