TAKE ADVANTAGE OF GREAT WEATHER AND GET THE KIDS OUTSIDE!
Remember how much time you used to spend outside when you were a kid? Whether you were playing with friends, exploring nature, or just hanging out in your yard, it was fun, right? So, what happened?
Today’s kids just don’t seem to enjoy the same things that we did when we were younger. Of course, times change, but there’s definitely something to be said about healthy kids getting some good, clean exercise outside. Instead, it seems that they are spending way too much time in front of a TV, computer screen, or smartphone.
But, once you actually get them outside, they always have a great time. The challenge is getting them to want to go outside and maybe enjoy a little of Mother Nature’s beauty. Just like homework or practicing Abacus, it’s a challenge that you must accept if you want healthy, well-rounded kids. You’ve got to get them up and moving.
- It makes their bodies healthier. They are still growing and need the exercise to build their bones and muscles. And, healthy kids who spend more time outside have a much less chance of being obese, which can plague them for their entire lives.
- Nature nurtures their sensory skills. Especially in younger children, the diversity of nature envelopes so many more aromas, sounds, textures, tastes, and even sights than sitting in front of a screen does.
- Being outside teaches them independence. When kids are inside, it’s a much more controlled environment than it is when they are outside. There are a lot more choices when they are outdoors, especially if kids are exploring nature. It helps them learn about cause and effect, and teaches them to think for themselves, making them more resilient and able to take care of themselves.
- They learn social skills. When they begin to play outside without supervision, they learn valuable life-skills about interacting with others.
- Spending time outside makes kids smarter. It’s easy to see why. If you think about it, a lot of your intelligence is really built on your experiences in life. Kids are experiencing much more outside than they would be inside on their computers.
- It makes them happier. Healthy kids with a good balance of activities that engage both their minds and bodies will be happier. And, being outdoors gives them an appreciation for nature that they can pass on to their children.
The challenge of keeping your kids healthy by getting them outside can even be tougher in our climate. There are so few really good days where you can get outside and enjoy the weather. But when it’s nice, it’s absolutely amazing.
Here are a few tips to get your kids away from technology for a bit and enjoy themselves outside.
Set Screen Time Limits
This is a tough one, but it has to be done if you ever want to have healthy kids instead of couch potatoes with their eyes glued to a screen.
Once you put the limits in place, some kids might be at a loss as to what to do with their time without the use of any electronics. This is where you come in and save the day, filling their time with outside activities.
It could be as simple as sitting on the patio, or you could take a walk around the yard looking at how everything is growing. How about planning a fun scavenger hunt in the backyard to keep them occupied? If you have little ones, this would be ideal for backyard playtime. It won’t be long before they start looking forward to the fun, outside things that they can do without their screens.
Plan Specific Outside Activities
Healthy kids need a balance of a lot of different things. It’s not just the right diet, but exercise is vital to their well-being. And, a great way for them to get more outside activity in their routine is to include it in their daily schedule.
It might take more than a little nudging from you to get them up and outside. Just let them know what the plan is and have fun with it. Here are some things that you could try.
- How about a daily walk? All you have to do is set a time and make it a habit. If it’s a set routine, your kids will know that if the weather is nice, everyone’s going for a nice walk. It’s not only great exercise, but it’s so much fun. You can take different paths, or maybe walk through different parts of the countryside if you live in a rural area. Walking is a nice way to slow things down a bit, look around, and discover a little of what nature has to offer.
- Plant a garden together. It’s a great, fun outside project that you and your kids can do together. They get to learn a little about nature, get some fresh air, and you get to spend time with them. You can share responsibilities for watering, feeding, weeding and picking. And, if you’re planting veggies, you get the benefit of having “healthy kids” when it time to harvest them. They might even try some new things just because they grew them.
- Schedule nature time. This one is easy. Just schedule a certain time of the day and call it “nature time.” The kids get to go outside, weather permitting of course, and spend at least an hour exploring nature. It could be as simple as looking at leaves, searching for different birds or animals, or maybe even finding shapes in the clouds. Then, they get to tell you what they discovered. The kids get a little healthy, outside time and you get some great bonding time afterwards. It’s a nice combination.
- Plan some play-dates. This one is an ideal way to get them outside for some healthy, kid playtime, and you can get some free time while you’re at it. Just schedule some play-dates with your family and friends who have kids. All the kids get together at one house to play outside for awhile. The kids get to spend a healthy day outside, and you get a chance to get some things done. Or, you can stay and enjoy the day with them.
- Schedule outside family time. You might not be able to do it everyday, but you could set aside a few hours at least once a week and have some outside family time. Go to the park, have a picnic, hike through the woods, or anything else that involves being outside enjoying nature.
Build a Playhouse or Fort Outside
Depending on how savvy you are with DIY projects, you could really go wild with this one. It also keeps them outside in a couple of different ways. First, they’re helping you put everything together, and then they have their own awesome place outside in nature where they can let their imaginations roam and have some fun.
That was so much fun, wasn’t it? Of course, you’ll be stressing the importance of not hurting the bugs and not catching the wrong ones. It’s a great outside activity that really gets your kids involved with the nature around them. All you need is some sort of see-through container with a lid, and they’re good to go. It’s also a great way to explore the differences between the daytime and nighttime in nature.
Your kids may be resistant at first when you start talking about taking away some of their screen time. But, it won’t last for long. In the end, they’ll be happier, healthier kids with a true appreciation for the beauty of the nature around them.