What does your toddler do when they hear music?
Little K just starts to move.
It’s like she can’t help it.
She just has to move her body. To the music...kind of.
She loves it.
The only thing she loves more is when I dance with her.
I twirl her. Twist her. Throw her around a bit. And the smiles just keep coming.
I’m fun mama.
Not, have to go and do the dishes, cook dinner, do the washing, yarda, yarda yarda, mama.
She looks up at me with her big shiny bright blue eyes and I just melt.
I would do anything for those looks. But the great thing about dancing….I love it too.
I mean, what’s not to love.
Loud music. Throwing shapes. Moving your body like no-one is looking. You don't have to be an experienced dancer.
But. Can all of this dancing be made into a home workout?
Well, the good news is, yes it can. And not only that, it is a fantastic way for the whole family to have fun together in the comfort of your own home.
Let me show you how….
Before we get into the how, let’s look at why….
It’s funny. I love dancing, and so does Little K, but it wasn’t until I started researching this article that I fully appreciated the why.
Why dancing is so important to toddlers and adults alike.
Yeah OK, there’s the enjoyment factor. But there is so much more to it than that.
Of course there’s the physical….dancing increases flexibility, range of motion, physical strength and stamina. It improves dexterity, core muscles, balance and coordination.
But, did you know that dancing can also help toddlers cognitive function as well.
Yeah. It can help them with learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, problem solving, decision making and attention span.
Seem a bit far fetched?
I thought so too. But, if you think about it….dancing encourages kids to experiment. It encourages them to try new skills. New moves. If something doesn’t flow or feel good. They try it a different way.
Dancing is creative.
It teaches your toddler to be creative. And how to express themselves. They develop their own style.
And all of this doesn’t stop with dancing.
It spills over into other areas of their lives.
And you thought dancing was just about fun.
So, get dancing. Get your toddler dancing. You’ll have a ball AND get fit.
But the benefits don't stop with your toddler.
There are so many benefits for you as well. For one, you'll be having fun, with your kids. That's got to do something positive for your mental health, surely.
Dancing is great no matter what your fitness levels. It works your whole body. It gets your heart rate up and your blood pumping, which is great for cardiovascular endurance. There's a strength training aspect to dancing as well, great for muscle strength yes, but it also helps you burn calories which will help towards weight loss goals.
Yeah, dancing is great. It's an effective workout and one of the fun ways you can spend time with your kids.
You’ll notice there’s not the usual exercise move explanation.
Well, dancing just doesn’t work like that really.
If you do want to learn a specific type of dance, like hip hop, belly dancing, Latin dance or ballroom dancing, you should seek out a professional dancer and have some dance lessons.
Or, if you wanted to try Zumba or Figure of 8, something more fitness workout based, try searching for a YouTube channel that has free dance workout videos.
But the workouts on this page are about moving your body in a way that feels good to you. They’re not about structure or specific dance moves at a specific time.
They’re about moving to the beat.
Or not, if you’re anything like me and Little K.
Dancing doesn't require any special equipment. Ok, maybe a water bottle. Your living room, or your kitchen will be your dance floor. And your favorite music will be your guide.
But before you start dancing you need to choose your songs. Make your playlist.
They should be songs both you and your kids love. And they need to be upbeat.
If they’re upbeat your kids are more likely to love them. But also, you need to throw yourself around to them. And that is much easier if the music is upbeat.
I’d suggest 3-5 songs. This will give you about a 15 minute dance workout.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do these workouts for longer. But I find it’s better to repeat the playlist rather than add more songs.
Remember you have to really love the songs. As you add more and more songs to the list you’ll find that, whilst you do like them, you don’t love them.
Stick to ones you love.
Stick to ones that make you want to jump and spin.
Also, toddler’s attention spans aren’t that long. They work well on repetition. You’ll be really surprised how excited they get when the songs come around again.
If it was up to Little K we’d just keep dancing to one song. Over and over again. Spin Spin Sugar at the minute.
Once you’ve made your play list, here is what to do with it….
This one is so simple. But it’s often the simplest ideas that are the most fun.
It’s certainly a favourite in the Mamas that Move house.
Play your songs and dance.
No set moves. No particular order. No special dance routines. Unless you have one. Just move. However your body wants.
Run. Jump. Spin. Step side to side whilst clicking your fingers.
However you want.
Rest between songs. And a bit longer between repeats of your list.
Have you ever noticed how many kids games resemble a HIIT workout?
No? Just me?
You will. Next time you play a game, you'll notice.
Anyway….musical statues has got to be one of my favourite ‘HIIT workouts’.
For this you will need a musical chairs app.
There are lots available….I’ve got this one.
It’s really good.
It let’s you set the play and the pause time. And it connects to your music library. I’m sure most do this, it’s just the one I’ve used.
Once you’ve done that it’s simple...move while the music is playing, stop when the music stops.
If you want to make it more interesting, have a more rounded workout, do a bodyweight/strength exercise when the music stops.
Think squats, lunges, push ups, tricep dips.
Short bursts of cardio interspersed with short bursts of strength exercises makes for an amazing workout that will have you hitting your goals in no time.
For this one you’ll need to either write out body parts on bits of paper, or you could print out these. Put them into a hat and each player takes it in turn to pull a card.
Every player has to ‘dance’ that body part, for the entire length of a song.
I like this because each part of your body is getting an individual cardio workout. It’s fun. And something you don’t normally do.
Your kids will love it as well.
It’s funny watching mama trying to dance her belly. And just her belly.
Dancing and a ball. Is that anyone else’s toddlers idea of heaven?
Choose your ball. A light weight one works best.
Think beach ball.
Someone starts with the ball and dances. They throw it to the next person and they dance. Keep going until your play list ends.
If you want to make it into more of a workout...do an exercise while you’re waiting for the ball.
So, choose an exercise, say squats. Do those until you get the ball, which is when you dance. When you throw the ball to someone else you do another exercise, say bicep curls.
This is another way to get a cardio and strength workout in one.
This is another simple one….
Keep the balloon from hitting the floor while the music plays. If you drop it, do an exercise.
This is also a good one for the kids to play alone if you need 5 minutes to yourself.
Have I ignited something?
Sparked an idea?
I do hope so.
Dancing is such a great way to get your body moving. And toddlers love it so much and they really do get a lot out of it.
But so will you.
All of those things I mentioned above….increased flexibility, stamina, strength. Even better, more creative problem solving. It applies to you as well.
You don’t stop learning, adapting, just because you’re an adult.
So get dancing.
Let’s start enjoying being a Mama that Moves.