Prying older kids away from television, phone and computer screens can be a difficult task at times; especially when you’re trying to do it so they will participate in activities as part of the family.

The key is to choose the right activities for your child’s age and make them fun, as it will not only motivate them to participate but also encourage them to do it again.

Activities that are suitable for any fitness and ability levels are also important. Here are some ideas to help get you started:

Save the environment

Get your family together and volunteer for one of many conservation projects going on around New Zealand. Planting, pushing wheelbarrows, digging and tramping through the outdoors is great exercise and you’ll be helping a great cause at the same time. Visit the Department of Conservation website for volunteer projects to choose from.

Online information:

For general volunteering information email or contact your local DOC office

Go on a bush walk or bike trek

There are many bush tracks of varying lengths around our beautiful country that don’t cost you anything to use. Get your teen to help you put together a picnic lunch for everyone, pick a decent half/full day walk, or arrange a day trip, and enjoy the fresh air with the family!

Organise a family sports day

Does your teen respond to a little competition? Get another family with similar-aged children together and have a family sports day. This could be as simple as a single soccer or netball game, or if you have more time on your hands, create a mini-Olympics that everyone can participate in. You could include a run around a field, a family relay, a short distance sprint, a long jump, a strength test (maximum press ups!)… use your imagination.

If you plan the competition at least a month in the future, you could even train together as a family for the event. Ask your teen to help organise it and get them to invite their friends’ families so everyone can be involved. They may think it’s lame to begin with but they will get into it on the day!

Take a lesson

Sit down with your teenager and think about the activities in your local area that your family could try together, then sign up for a series of lessons. This could include activities such as a dance class, golf or tennis lessons, a martial arts fitness class, or an orienteering group.

Arrange a mall scavenger hunt

If your teen loves shopping, get some other families to participate and arrange a scavenger hunt. Each team should start off with $10, a piece of paper, a pen and a decent-sized list of things (both indoors and outdoors, paid/free) that they need to get within one hour

To make it even more interesting, create a series of numbered envelopes containing clues to the next item they must find, which they can only open one at a time in sequential order.

You can include tasks such as each family must find something pink, get a receipt from a particular store, get a leaf from a particular outdoor tree, find a phone number from the outside of a particular shop window, name some information from a notice up on a community board, or find the name of the person who’s statue is outside the mall. You could even leave one lot of envelopes with a friendly shop keeper so the ‘teams’ will need to find that person to ask for their next clue.


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Ange Norton is a health and fitness specialist, lifestyle coach, qualified personal trainer and founder of women’s online health, wellbeing and fitness magazine NZ Real Health. Find out more about Ange at Creative Action Fitness.

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