In a time of technology where screens seem to hold all of our attention, as a parent, you might be concerned about how much time your children spend staring at one. There is a plus side to allowing kids to use tablets and computers, as there are countless fun learning apps and resources for them to use. However, it appears that kids today are less and less interested in spending time outside playing, which can have some detrimental effects. It is said that spending time outside in the fresh air and around nature has a positive impact on our mental and physical health. So, if you’re looking for ways to encourage your kids to get outside, here are some ways you can do that.
Build a treehouse or playhouse
Creating a private place outdoors for the kids to spend their time in is a wonderful way to encourage them to get away from their computer screens. These spaces will inspire them to use their imaginations, turning it into a secret clubhouse or a fortress. Or they might even enjoy pretending they’re grown-ups running their own household. It will become a place where they can take their friends to talk and play, and they can even use it for sleepovers on summer nights away from the main house and adults. It’s a good idea to make this space as comfortable as possible for them in order for them to want to spend more time there. Purchase comfortable seating from places like SumoLounge, which make great beanbag chairs for kids. You can also pair them with some floor cushions for an extra-cozy space. Fill it with books, boardgames and toys for the kids to play with and make it a ‘screen-free’ zone.
Purchase outdoor games
These will be best for summer months, but there is a wide range of outdoor games available that you can buy to help get your kids spending some more time in the sun. There are plenty of water-based products, like Slip ‘N Slide, or inflatable water slides, which are always a hit. Classic games like a water-fight using balloons or water pistols are another, easier way to cool kids down and get them out having fun in the heat. Other games include giant Connect-4 or chessboards for your garden. These games require a certain amount of brain-power too and are a great way to challenge young minds. If your kids are into soccer, you could get nets set up in your backyard. This applies to any sport your kids might be interested in, not to mention it’s an excellent way for them to get some exercise without it feeling like a chore. A Ping-Pong table is another fun purchase that you can enjoy just as much as the kids do, if you have the space for it. Even simple things like a Frisbee can be used to get them off the couch and running around outdoors.
Teaching your kids about plant life and how to grow them could be a good opportunity for a learning experience for them, as well as spending some quality time with you, which is even better. You will be teaching them about the environment and how to grow their own produce, which is a valuable life-skill. You might even learn something yourself! There are loads of gardening-based activities you could do. Some of the basic ones are growing sunflowers, as this is a relatively easy task, and they will love seeing that flower grow taller and taller! You can teach them about decomposition and what materials are bio-degradable by making your own compost, which could save you a lot of trips and money spent at your local gardening center. You can even focus on wildlife, too. Let them observe the different insects in your garden and tell them to draw what they see. If you have a pond, see if there are any frogs around that they can look at; they’ll get a kick out of seeing them hop around! There are countless things you can do with your kids to teach them about the different plants and wildlife you have right there at home. Hopefully, it will pique their interest and encourage them to spend more time outdoors learning. If they like it enough, you could even go further and take them to your local parks for more explorations.
Create a scavenger hunt
These are so much fun for kids and adults alike. The promise of an awesome prize will most definitely get them off the couch and outdoors for some good old-fashioned outdoorsy fun! You can get really creative with scavenger hunts, challenging the kids with easy or more difficult clues to lead them onto the next clue. It’s a good idea to pick a theme based on something they like to get them excited about it. For example, if your kids are into pirates, use teabags to stain a piece of paper and draw a desert island treasure map onto it. You can do the same for the paper with the clues on it to help aid their imaginations. If possible, make the garden look like a pirate island. For the prize, you can fill a treasure chest with chocolate gold coins! Whatever the theme, try to turn the garden into another world to fully immerse them in the game.
Have a picnic
A picnic, a tea party, whatever you want to do, serving up the kids’ lunch or dinner outside like this could be another fun way to get them outside and spend some quality time with you. You can ask them what food they want to have at the picnic and get them to help you cook or bake what they have requested. If you get them involved in preparing the food, it will help get them excited about it. Pack up a picnic basket, even if you’re only going as far as the backyard, to make a show of it, let the kids pick a spot they want to sit down in and tuck into the delicious treats you all made together!
There are lots of different ways to encourage your children to spend time in the great outdoors. If none of the above takes your fancy, don’t worry! They are just a few suggestions on how you can get the ball rolling, and hopefully, you find them useful!