9 Ways to Get Kids Outdoors
Ideas for Outdoor Fun for the Whole Family
These days, unless we push ourselves, it is a difficult task even for most adults to get outside and get exercise and fresh air. As for being an example to our children we generally find that in this area we may not be so successful. Getting our children outside to play more is something that will require more commitment from parents. Getting ourselves outside to play alongside our children is an important step in the right direction.
Several decades ago coming home from school and changing into play clothes and running outside to stay until the street lights came on was the norm. Everyone blames technology for this, more television stations, videos, games, telephones, and computers; the list goes on and on. But instead of blaming the inanimate objects which should have absolutely no control over us, we adults should accept the blame. Everyone is too tired, too busy, too something to get outside and do something so we let technology take the fall.
We as parents must make the first move if we want our children to have a love of the outdoors and get the exercise and fresh air that we all need a bit more of in our lives. Making the decision to start doing things as a family is a big one but it is something that you will be so thankful that you did. The energy that you gain from getting exercise each day is not something that you can get from a bottle of vitamins and the enjoyment of being together as a family is something that cannot be reproduced in any other way.
Start simple; do not try to push it and do something huge. This is something you can start anytime but starting in the spring when the days are getting longer is a great time. Here are some ideas:
1. Walk to the Park – When mom and dad get home from work, before or after supper, start taking a walk together as a family. Walking helps you to see things that you normally have to slow down to see. Nature is still out there and kids love to look at interesting leaves and sticks as they walk along. Find a nice rock and play kick the rock as you walk through the neighborhood. If you have a local park make that your destination and play on the jungle gym, take a couple turns around the track, or everyone grab a swing and get your swing on!
2. Go For a Bike Ride – Bike rides as a family are also a lot of fun if you have a safe neighborhood to ride in. Kids love when mom and dad ride their bikes alongside of them; it is as if they are shocked and amazed that mom and dad are still able to do such a thing at their ripe old age! Stop to check out a bayou or creek along the way and show the kids the tadpoles and how they mature each time and eventually become frogs. Getting your kids interested in nature is a great way to get them to go outdoors.
3. Play Sports – As you get some of your energy levels up then you can start branching out and doing more exciting things with the kids. Try setting up volleyball or badminton in the yard and challenge the kids to a game. Play street tennis, catch, or some other types of games in the driveway or the street in front of your house.
4. Yard Work – Another great way to get everyone out of doors is to have a family yard work day once a week in the summers. One can mow, one can edge, one can rake, one can use the blower or the weed eater, and everyone can get involved in the yard work. It not only gets everyone outside, but it sure helps the guy stuck with the yard work. It is a really great way to get the family involved in keeping the house look great and all the while being out of doors!
5. Play Games – Playing hide and seek with your children is something children absolutely love. Having treasure hunts outside is also a lot of fun.
6. Build Something – Building a playhouse or tree house is something else that is great fun for families to do together out of doors. Planting a garden together and caring for the garden and watching things grow is not only fun but educational.
7. Camp at Home – If your family has never tried camping and might be unsure as to whether it is something you would enjoy then give it a try at home. The kids will be thrilled just to be in a tent. You can set up the tent in the yard and take a cooler with food and cook your food outside. You still have all the comforts of home that you need and if it turns out not so good the first time all you have to do is go in the house.
8. Visit a State Park – Camping is a wonderful way to get the family out of doors and there are so many state parks in every part of the country that are safe and have great amenities. Most of them have lakes, rivers, or oceans as part of the camp for great fishing and swimming. They are full of forests and trails for hiking as well. Cooking over a campfire is so much fun for kids and sleeping outside with the sounds of nature and the little critters scurrying about really appeals to most kids. Many state parks are very close to other places of interests such as water falls, rock climbing (for kids), museums, and the list goes on.
9. Local Attractions – Just take a look on the internet at the places of interest nearby your town. You will be surprised at all the activities you can find to do as a family and get yourselves accustomed to the great outdoors. Some areas have wonderful farms and ranches you can visit to let the kids see farm animals and milk a cow or ride a horse. There are orchards to pick your own fruits and even some farmers will let you go out into their fields and pick corn or other produce.
Life is a big adventure and not just on television or the internet. To get your children out of doors you need to get yourselves outside as well. After a while the kids and you will have so much energy the house will not be able to contain it all and you will be busting out those doors eagerly desiring that breath of fresh air that comes. Give yourselves a push and get out there and give your children a love for the great outdoors.
Ken Myers of GoNannies.com is a father of three and passionate about great childcare, who is always looking for ways to help families find the support they need to live fuller, richer lives.