How much time do your children spend outside? According to some studies, the average American child in 2018 spends half the amount of time playing outside as their parents did when they were children. Around half of children in the United States don’t go outside on a daily basis and preschoolers are spending just 12 hours a week in the great outdoors – less than two hours a day.
Technology and the internet are two of the major reasons as to why children are spending more and more time cooped up inside the house – and you probably don’t need to be told that increased screen time at the expense of being active in the fresh air isn’t good for their long term health.
So, how can you get your children outside and enjoying the world around them? Here are some proven tricks to get them outside and playing.
Encourage your kids to use the great outdoors as playground
Who needs expensive toys when you’ve got the great outdoors at your feet? Encourage your kids to go outside and use their imagination when it comes to play. Rather than fighting with swords on a computer game, they can act battles out in real life using sticks and branches. Trees are for climbing, boulders for jumping off, mud for running through and sand for building. Nature has given kids everything they need to get hours’ worth of entertainment from being outside – you just need to give them a push in the right direction to do so. Let them be dirty, free and risk takers.
Ditch the car and start walking places
How often do you take your kids in the car for a journey that you could walk in 20 minutes? Many of us are guilty of it, either because we don’t think we have the time to spend going on foot from A to B or because we simply can’t be bothered. That’s why car trips of under a mile add up to 10 billion miles a year according to the US National Household Transportation Survey. Walking places is a great way to get your children into the great outdoors. Not only will the initial walk do them some good when it comes to fresh air and exercise, but you can also point out the natural world around them. Who knows, you might even stumble across a play area you never knew existed and that they want to revisit frequently.
Make your garden a comfortable place to be
You might think that patio furniture is only a worthwhile investment if you are planning on throwing summer parties, but it can actually encourage your kids to spend more time outside as well. If your garden isn’t comfortable, then chances are your kids aren’t going to want to spend time in it. Invest in comfy chairs, fire pits or patio heaters that will make it a much more enticing environment for them to be in. They might still want to play on their tablet, but if you can get them doing so outside, then you’re at least halfway towards winning the battle of getting them into the great outdoors.
Work on a family vegetable garden
Another method to get them outside is by working on a family project together in the backyard, such as a family vegetable garden. There are many benefits of having a family garden aside from the fact that your children will be spending more time in the great outdoors. They’ll learn about the value of being self-sufficient, see the fruits – literally – of their labor and you can produce fresh, homegrown produce for healthy meals.
Set your family scavenger hunts
Scavenger hunts around the garden are a brilliant way of getting your kids outside. These can take on many forms, from hunts that fit the season – Easter Egg hunts are always popular – to those that become part of a special occasion, say by having your kids scavenge around the garden to try and find presents on their birthday. There are all kinds of items that you can hide in nature and have your kids seek out, and if you want to make it educational, you could even challenge them to bring back certain flowers or insects.
Explore nature during family holidays
Have you decided on your family holiday destination yet this year? If not, then consider swapping the beach for a US National Park Holiday. From Yosemite to the Everglades, the Rocky Mountains to the Grand Canyon, America is home to some of the most stunning outdoor scenery in the world. By holidaying in such gripping locations, you’ll be ensuring your children spend time in the great outdoors, and the experience might even pique their interest enough to encourage them to want to learn more about the nature and the world around us when they are back home.
Encourage their sporting interests
If your child has even a passing interest in sport, then encouraging them to explore it further can get them spending more time outside. Have they taken to your local basketball team? Then buy a hoop and get them playing in the backyard. Perhaps they’ve got a favorite soccer player, in which case kick around a ball with them down the park. Sports are one of the best ways to encourage kids to spend time outdoors and get a good dose of exercise too.
Give them independence
For some children, there is no greater feeling than that of independence. The fact that their parents trust them to get on with things by themselves and without supervision. It gives them confidence and makes them feel grown up. You can take advantage of this yearning for independence by using it to encourage them to head outside. Let them go up and down the street alone, then around the block, then to the play area and then to the shop to get their own sweets. Chances are, they’ll love being trusted to go about their own business and will take plenty of opportunities to do so, which will get them outdoors on a much more frequent basis.
Since you all loved the other cookie giveaway I did last week I thought a St. Patrick's Cookie Giveaway would be another great one for those of you who have a sugar tooth. :) This giveaway is sponsored by Gourmet Cookie Bouquets ! I personally have not tried these cookies but looking at the pictures of all the cookie bouquets made me ready to try them! I absolutely love the creativity in all their Holiday Bouquets! 2 Lucky winners will win a fun St. Patrick's Day Bouquet that is valued at $50. GOOD LUCK! I hope one of my readers wins!! Use the rafflecopter widget below to enter the St. Patrick's Day cookie giveaway. The mandatory entry is commenting on this post, but once that entry is completed, various other entry options will become available. Any option is acceptable, but the number of entries per person are limited to the number indicated in the contest rafflecopter form. Entries will be reviewed and duplicate or uncompleted ones will be removed
St. Patrick's day is March 17th so its approaching quickly. I have a few ideas on art and food projects that i want to do with the kiddos. Hopefully I will have enough time to complete them and share them with you. This was a super easy one for those little hands. I cut the stripes of colored paper but if you are working with a preschooler or school aged child then they can practice cutting. The two toddler boys here only had to glue the pieces on their piece of paper. EASY, but they enjoyed it! :) It sure has brightened my kitchen with them hanging on the fridge! :) I also talked more about the Promise God gave us with the rainbow since I know that history a whole lot better then the history of the Irish Holiday!
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