6 Tips to Get Your Kids Outside
Daylight Saving Time is back, bringing longer days and more opportunities to head outdoors, especially for kids who spend most of their day at school. But it isn’t always easy for parents to convince kids to get out there, especially since we don’t always set a good example. Study after study shows Americans of all ages are spending less time outside.
The benefits of outdoor time are clear: It boosts the body’s ability to make Vitamin D, helps set a healthy sleep cycle, improves our focus and mood, and it can naturally lead to more exercise. British researchers found that the more time children spend outside, the more physically active they are.
Being in nature is good for us and our children, so what can we do? Here are 6 tips — three tips for those times we can join our kids outside, and three for times we can’t.
1. Make a quick stop at a local park.
Even carving 20 minutes out of your day before running errands or on the way home from school is enough to reap mental and physical health benefits. Make it a family mission to explore parks you’ve never been to when you find yourself in a less-traveled part of town.
2. Head outdoors with your regularly scheduled indoor activity.
Planning to read a book? Take it outside. Want to work or play on your tablet? Eating dinner? Take it outside. Even if you don’t have the time or desire to go on a family hike or kick around that soccer ball, you can cultivate a connection with nature by bringing your indoor habits outside whenever possible.
3. Include time in nature on your next holiday
Whether it’s a day trip or a vacation, intentionally integrate outdoor time into your plans. Visit one of Florida’s award-winning state parks. Make plans to take a hike, a dip in the springs or a walk on the beach.
Parents can’t always join our children outdoors. Kids simply have more free time, which is the magic of childhood! Help ensure they double down on that magic by spending lots of time outside without you. Here are some tips to make that happen:
4. Give your child a choice: Do chores or play outside.
Chores are important, but you might find outdoor time even more valuable. Consider, for example, telling your child she can assemble tomorrow’s lunch and load the dishwasher, or she can spend 30 minutes outside. Yes, you will end up doing the chores if they go outside, but you will do them in peace and quiet! It’s a win for your child no matter the choice she makes.
5. Give your child some space to call their own.
Let them have a patch of land where they get to decide what to do: dig to China, build a fort, grow plants, make a mud puddle.
6. Set a timer for a maximum amount of screen time.
And then let the kids be bored. Boredom has a way of sparking creativity; just gently nudge your child to take those creative exploits outside.
Children ages 5 to 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen compared with around three hours in 1995.