As a child growing up, I remember playing outside a lot, riding my bike down our street, building stuff with sand, playing fun games with the other kids in the neighbourhood and and even walking to school. Playing outdoors as a kid was gold, I would practically beg to go outside. It was a time to run around and be free, a time to use your imagination and explore nature. But this is not the case anymore.
Kids spend a lot of time in front of a screen watching cartoons nonstop or playing video games. Some barely know what it means to play outside and enjoy the gift of nature.
As parents, no matter how busy we are, we need to let them experience the fun in going outside to play. There are so many advantages to this. Playing outdoors can make your child healthier physically. Activities like running, jumping, throwing balls, catching, pulling things, lifting and carrying objects will strengthen bones and muscles. Nature also encourages imaginative play and physical exploration and this can boost cognitive function.
Here are a few ways to get children to play outdoors more often:
• Invest in toys your child can play with outside the house. You can get a nice outdoor bike, a trampoline, a soccer ball with tiny goal posts, toy gardening tools, a slide and so on. Getting one or two of these outdoor fun toys will definitely drag kids away from the digital world and get them outside.
• Spend more time outside as a family. Take the dog out for a walk, ride bikes, have a picnic in a park, plant a garden together. There are lots of things you can do outside.
• Teach your children to be mindful of nature and appreciate natural things. Let them look at the birds flying in sky or butterflies perching on flowers.
• Create an outdoor treasure hunt where your kids find hidden items buried around your yard or just tucked away in strategic places outside.
• Plan day trips and vacation trips to outdoor places like national parks and resorts or other outdoor experiences. You can also get your child registered for outdoor sports, boot camps or summer camps. Of course, this can only happen after the pandemic is over.
• If you love to exercise at home, consider doing it outdoors with your kids. Do aerobics and play fun outdoor sports. They’ll love it.
• Organize outdoor play dates or even outdoor birthday parties (when the pandemic is over).
• Reduce the time your kids spend watching TV or playing video games on phones and computers. Set a timer for a maximum amount of screen time and make sure to follow through with it.
Playing outdoors is a blessing for our children, we should not let it become a thing of the past.