Host Your Own Stay-at-Home Olympics

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The 2018 Pyeongchang, South Korea Winter Olympics are Feb. 9 – 25, and the Paralympics are March 9-18. Kids love the Games, and everyone can feel inspired by the athletes’ skill and determination. Here are some ways to make your own stay-at-home Olympics to brighten your winter months.

Watch parties

Although not active movement, popping some popcorn and watching the Olympics/Paralympics can be a fun family activity. By watching some of the contests together, you can show your kids that you value Olympic/Paralympic sports and the perseverance required to be an athlete.

Family Olympics

Now that everyone is inspired, it is time to let the kids be creative. Brainstorm ways for all family members to participate in your own family Olympics/Paralympics. Create a chart and buy some fun stickers or medals to reward participation. Perhaps you could “compete” by aiming for a certain number of minutes of activity each day. Tackle your goals as a group, taking family walks, attending indoor gym times and heading to the forest preserve on weekends. Have a fun “Opening Ceremony” and “Closing Ceremony” and celebrate being active and healthy as a family.

World Class Habits

World class athletes are elite because they take care of their health 24 hours a day. The Olympics can be a great time to talk over healthy habits with your kids and even work on your own. Your family Olympics can include things like getting the right amount of sleep, eating five to nine servings of vegetables and fruits per day, staying hydrated with water in the dry, furnace-heated indoor air and cutting out junk food. Older kids will also be ready for stress relieving techniques like taking a few deep breaths, listening to music, getting outside for a few minutes and enjoying time with family. These things can all be “sticker-worthy” on your Olympic scoring chart.

Experience local Olympic Sports

Pick one or more of your favorite Olympic sports and give them a try with your family. Millennium Park and many park districts offer free outdoor skating with optional skate rental.  The Chicago Park District, the Cook County Forest Preserve, the Wheaton Park District and many others offer cross country ski rental and groomed trails. You can watch hockey all around Chicago and pick up a game at many outdoor rinks.  Rinks in Chicago, Northbrook and Wheaton offer short track speedskating clubs and you can find long course speedskating at the Pettit National Oval in West Allis, Wisconsin. Check out the Wisconsin Biathlon Association for beginner biathlons (older kids and adults) up in the Madison and Kettle Moraine regions.  Villa Olivia in Bartlett and Wilmot Mountain are perfect places to take downhill skiing lessons and try alpine skiing for the first time. You can watch ski jumping at the Norge Ski Jump in Fox River Grove.

Let the Olympics and Paralympics inspire you to stay active during the winter and enjoy some new family adventures with your kids.

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Chris Palmquist is an USA Triathlon Elite Coach, USA Cycling Elite Coach and Youth/Junior Coach with 19 years of coaching experience. She has written for Chicago Athlete Magazine for more than 20 years. As a Team MPI Head Coach, she has coached athletes to regional, national and world class success. She is a USA Paratriathlon National Team Coach and Team USA Coach at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, ITU World Paratriathlon Series and High Performance Camps at the Olympic Training Centers. Chris coaches youth and junior triathletes as Head Coach for the MMTT Youth Triathlon Team and for USAT at national Junior Skills Camps. In 33 years as an athlete, she has raced several sports including triathlon (13 Ironman), collegiate rowing (Cornell 83-87), canoe/kayak, cross country skiing (20 Birkebeiner) and road bike racing. Chris is married with two kids. Favorite Quote: “Do Simple Better” ~Joe Maddon

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