Get Outta Here
Studies have shown that kids may spend up to 7 hours a day on electronic media. Of course, there are educational benefits to using computers and other tech devices, but what if our kids weren’t so dependent on technology? Would they spend more time outdoors? How can we make playing outside as exciting as, say, a video game?
The secret is to dream up clever activities that they’ll want to take part in. In other words, don’t just push them outdoors. Send them outside with a specific game, task or challenge. To get you started, here are 10 ideas to get the kids off of the couch.
Set up obstacle courses and racetracks for Outdoor Olympics! Suggest jumping competitions, three-legged races, cartwheel contests, tug-o-war, relay races, or races on bikes and scooters. When everyone is worn out, it’s time for the outdoor award ceremony with handmade medals and refreshments from Mom!
Pitch a tent in your backyard and dare the kids to sleep under the stars. Give them a backpack filled with snacks, water, a flashlight, bug spray, a camera and maybe a walkie-talkie to contact home base. It doesn’t matter if they last the whole night. The point is to switch up the normal routine and to urge them to see things in a brand new light.
Gather a bunch of supplies that you don’t mind getting dirty (think sheets, towels, pillows, blankets, cushions, sleeping bags, sticks, clothesline, etc.) and challenge your young ones to build a structure. Who knows what they’ll create! It doesn’t matter what they call it – it could be an army hideout, a castle or an igloo. What matters is that they’re using their imaginations and working together in the fresh air.
Who doesn’t love bouncing on a trampoline? Not only is it great cardio exercise (ands great for balance and coordination), but also it’s a sure-fire way to line up play dates for months to come! Every kid on the block will want a turn on your backyard trampoline. We bet they won’t even think about coming indoors until they’ve jumped long and hard enough to work up an appetite for dinner.
Make a commitment to lead the family in a weekly exercise routine. Whether it’s a bike ride, a jog, or yoga, working out together is a nurturing and bonding experience.
On a night when your littlest one won’t settle and the older kids are climbing the walls, suggest a night walk! Snuggle baby in the pushchair and arm the others with flashlights or headlamps. Step into the dark of night and see how things differ from the bright light of day. Suggest walking without talking and using hand signals to communicate (like ninjas!). Chances are, by the time your round the block the baby will be sound asleep.
The next time it rains, tell your kids to put on coats and boots and enjoy the weather. If they’re confused by this turn of events, throw on some boots to show them how it’s done! Stomp in puddles, put your hands in mud, and chase each other around the yard. When you’re totally drenched, head indoors for warm towels and slippers.
Designate an area in your yard for a flower, herb or vegetable garden (or a combination of all three). Let the kids decide how it should look, make labels to for the different plants and put the seeds in the ground. Show the kids how to water and weed and suggest keeping a journal with drawings, photos and musings of their garden activities.
If kids sit quietly outdoors, nature will come to them. With a notebook and colored pencils, they can draw what they see in the trees, grass, dirt and sky. Turn these drawings into a nature-themed art show for friends and family.
Ask your kids to send you on a treasure hunt. They should hide something in the yard and draw up a map with a set of clues to lead you to the prize. Enjoy deciphering the map and searching for the secret treasure!
And Stay Out!
Since technology is so hyped these days, kids rarely consider any activity unless it’s plugged in. Knowing this, it’s up to you to jumpstart their love of the outdoors by suggesting activities (like the ones above) that will lure them away from the computer. Who knows, in no time at all your kids may be heading out the door without any prompting or promises.
This post was written by Samara Kamenecka a New York-born freelance writer and translator living in Madrid. When she’s not busy trying to mold her two kids into functional, contributing members of society, she can usually be found enjoying a glass of wine (or three). You can find her blogging over at Tiny Fry.
Thank you so much for featuring on my blog as a guest Samara it’s been great having you.
Please all go show Samara some love.