How to help your kids enjoy the outdoors?
The average American child spends just four to seven minutes playing outside each day. This doesn’t exactly bode well for their health. From a higher risk of obesity to stunted emotional and cognitive development, a lack of outdoor play can have some serious side effects.
If your little one is already in the habit of plopping down in front of the TV for hours, don’t lose hope. It’s possible to cultivate a love for the outdoors in your tech-savvy 2-year-old or tween. You’ll just have to get creative. Here are six suggestions to get you started!
Get out the slip n’ slide
What kid doesn’t love to jump through sprinklers or break out the water guns on a warm, sunny day? Gather all the water weapons and hoses you can find and go to war in the backyard.
Get the whole family involved in some wet and wild fun — even the dog will enjoy this activity! Brownie points if you happen to have a slip n’ slide or pool to plunge into after announcing the victors.
Organize a treasure hunt
If your little ones love playing dress-up indoors, have them put on pirate costumes and send them outside for a treasure hunt. This activity is perfect for school-age children who can read clues.
Simply write a list of corresponding clues and hide them around your backyard. Add puns and rhymes to make the hunt a bit more challenging, and be sure to provide a fun toy, snack, or other treasure at the very end.
Try gardening together
If your child thinks all the outside world has to offer is dirt and grass, help them explore nature with your own backyard garden. Let them join you in getting their hands dirty in the soil, pulling up weeds and planting fruits and veggies.
Point out the worms, insects, and plant life as you work. Exposing your kids to gardening in this way can teach them about ecosystems and healthy eating, and can even boost their immunity and minimize allergies.
Gear up with new equipment
Speed things up and pull out all the sports equipment and outdoor gear you can find. Rollerblades, scooters, jump ropes, baseball gear, and hula hoops are all common items you might already have in your garage or shed.
If these don’t motivate your kid to get outside, try putting him on an electric bike. E-bikes have a motor to assist the rider and promote weight loss, provide low-impact aerobic workouts, and improve heart health.
Enjoy an afternoon picnic
Sometimes, food is the biggest motivator. Get your kids outside by bribing them with a little picnic in the park. Pack finger foods and healthy snacks, as well as a blanket big enough to accommodate the whole family.
Be sure to talk a stroll through the woods to burn those calories and encourage your little ones to engage with nature. Point out edible plants or mushrooms growing on trees to further incorporate the food theme.
Yes, the whole point of getting kids outdoors is to get them away from technology. However, if you’ve run out of options, bringing tech outside may be the only way to help them engage with nature and the environment.
Download a geocaching app on your smartphone and search for hidden treasures at local parks. Use the Night Sky app to stargaze and learn more about planets and constellations together.
When it comes to helping your kids enjoy the outdoors, it’s best to begin spending time in nature together as early as possible. Even within the first few days of being home from the hospital, take them outside and start showing them the sky and grass and birds.
As they grow, continue to make outdoor time part of your daily routine. That way, being outside will seem even more normal than being indoors.