A parking lot blanketed in bikes, helmets and towels reveals families laying out running shoes and going through the rundown once more, as the sun rises on a perfectly fall-like August morning. The Bunch family is easy to spot with their four bright neon T-shirts – all with nicknames proudly and distinctly displayed on their backs. Mom, Maureen, lines up her children, Declan, 9, Delaney, 7, Dawson, 7, and Donovan, 5, for a photo before the start of the Strong Kids Triathlon at the Owasso Family YMCA. For once, Saturday’s sporting event is in one location, at the same time, for all four kids.
“I am not sure if I am ‘balancing’ all of our activities,” admits Maureen. “It is a constant challenge.”
Team Bunch is a constantly moving target from soccer to softball, basketball to baseball and swimming in their downtime. “All four of my children are involved in organized sports,” shares Maureen. “Declan plays soccer and basketball. Delaney plays soccer and softball. Dawson plays soccer, baseball and basketball. Donovan plays soccer. We also have a pool, so that is a great way to fit in physical activity without them realizing it!”
For this family, staying physically active is a priority, and one that takes coordination and teamwork. “My husband works from home, which is a huge benefit when we are trying to get to all of our activities and when I need to sleep after my shifts,” says Maureen, who works at Bailey Medical Center as an RN on the Med/Surg unit three nights a week – 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
For busy families like the Bunch family, Maureen says striving to have a healthy family is looking at it as a bigger picture. “My personal health goals for my family are to make mostly healthy food choices and to find activities and sports that they enjoy and that will give them confidence and pride in their accomplishments,” she says.
Those bright neon shirts come in handy, as mom and dad cheer on each of their kids throughout the triathlon course.
Healthy living, however, transcends the field, the court, the ballpark and the pool. “My advice for parents is to be an example for their kids,” Maureen adds. “Show them how important it is to eat healthy and participate in regular exercise. There are so many activities that can be done as a family. Talk about healthy food choices.”
Sitting down to the dinner table, where healthy food choices are easier to uphold, is not always a possibility for any busy family on the go. Maureen says this is when flexibility can help keep your family on track. “I try to teach my kids that (almost) everything is OK, in moderation,” she says. “We do drive-thru meals and treats like everyone else, but they are not an everyday thing. If you are physically active, you can have those treats and it doesn't become a problem.”
One more way Maureen tries to keep her family healthy and active is by being mindful of idle screen time. “The kids do not watch TV or play video games on school days or nights,” she says. “We are fortunate that all of our kids love to be outside so they spend a lot of time riding bikes and playing in our yard.”
Perhaps they are practicing for their next triathlon. “The Strong Kids Triathlon was their first event of that type and they loved it!” says Maureen. “I'm sure we will be participating in more.”