“Nature is often overlooked as a healing balm for the emotional hardships in a child’s life.” ― Richard Louv
Many studies show that children are getting outside less often than they used to. This means our children (and ourselves) are missing out on very important health benefits of getting outside in nature. Between the physical benefits of time spent in nature such as exercise, Vitamin D from the sunlight, and even a reduced risk in nearsightedness and the mental benefits such as stress reduction, mood improvement and even better concentration after time spent outdoors for children with ADHD. “The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.” ― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
Time in nature is not leisure time' it's an essential investment in our children's health (and also, by the way, in our own). - Richard Louvvia @ParentingJunkieTweet This
Ok, so you know the benefits of time spent outdoors but still find you can’t get outside other than walking to and from the car/parking lot. Here are five reasons (read: excuses) you might not be getting outdoors enough with your kids and what you can do about them.
#1 Your Kids Don’t Want To
If your kids are saying this regularly it probably means that going outside is not part of your normal routine. They may not be used to getting outside. When your kids say they don’t want to they believe you will cave and they can stay inside. Ultimately we know that it’s for their benefit (and ours) to get outdoors and moving every day. Try to make it part of your daily routine so it becomes more of a ritual or habit. A morning walk before breakfast, a walk after dinner, or a family hike every Sunday. When it becomes a part of our routine there’s less of a conversation and power struggle around it.
#2 It’s Too Hot!
It can get extremely hot in various places where it is almost impossible to be outside without getting dehydrated or getting sunstroke. If you live in one of those climates you can go out really early in the morning or really late at night when the heat subsides even a little. You can also focus a lot on water play. Sprinklers, hoses, water tables, pots and pans filled with water can all be great fun on a hot day. Just be sure to have lots of water to drink, wear your favorite form of sun protection, and find a nice shady spot so it’s bearable and safe to be outside in the heat.
#3 It’s Too Cold!
You know the saying, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Yes there are some climates where it is most likely literally too cold to go outside. Most of the time however, you or your children are too cold because you’re just not layered up enough (checkout my favorite outdoor gear here). The more you layer up, the more the heat will get trapped between the layers and keep you warm. Be sure to keep moving as well when you are in the cold. A body in motion stays much warmer than a stagnant one. Playing with the snow, sledding, hiking, et will keep the blood flowing and keep you warm.
#4 We Don’t Have Time
We’re just too busy to get outdoors! If getting outdoors is important to you then you want to try to find time wherever possible. Maybe there is something you are already doing that can be accomplished walking instead of driving. Or take your meal outside for a family picnic outdoors. What is something you normally do inside but can do outside instead?
#5 It’s Boring!
Sometimes our kids just don’t know what to do outside. For tips on this (and more) sign up for the Free Reclaim Play Challenge! In week 3 we are talking all about getting kids outside!
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What are your tips for getting your kids outdoors? What is the biggest reason you have for not getting outdoors enough – one of the five listed above or something else? Let me know in the comments below!
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