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A lonely wind howls through the swing set. A tumbleweed rolls across the nature trail. Backyards, front yards, side yards – all abandoned. Where are all the kids?
It’s no secret that kids are spending more time indoors than they used to. Between homework, various screen entertainments, and after school activities, there seems to be little time left in kids’ schedules for unstructured outside play. And some parents are concerned about everything from neighborhood safety to their kids’ clothes getting muddy. But despite the risks, being outside is an essential way for kids to get active and learn to appreciate nature. This spring, take these tips to get your kid outside – and loving it.
If your kids need some motivation, start inside – by planning fun outdoor activities. Make a list of some group activities to do outdoors, and ideas for individual play outdoors, too. Activities with family and friends might include capture the flag, a nature hike, or even a scavenger hunt, complete with treasure maps. Sorting through the garage might turn up some fun items for outdoor play: that pogo stick might just have some spring left in it, and – who knows? – maybe the kids will love bocce. Encourage your child to find some activities they can do on their own outside, too, like skateboarding, bike riding, tending to a few plants in the garden, or even bird watching.
To get kids interested in the outdoors from a young age, go outside with them and point out all there is to wonder about: “See that tree? Did you know it’s alive?” If scheduling outdoor time is difficult for you, hire a babysitter for a few hours or skip the gym in favor of a bike ride or walk with the kids.
For older kids, outdoor play is a great way to explore their independence. But be sure to set clear boundaries. Let them know exactly where they’re allowed to play – that abandoned construction site should definitely be off-limits. And if your child is out playing with friends in the neighborhood regularly, try to be in touch with your child’s friends’ parents. Knowing that other parents are keeping an eye on your child can be a confidence booster if you’re concerned about neighborhood safety.
As for parents concerned about dirt and mud, there’s really no way around it. But ultimately a little mud isn’t so bad – it’s a small price to pay for a fun time outside. A bone-chilling soak in the rain is another story however, so if your children are going outdoors this spring, make sure they have the right equipment. Rugged outdoor clothes from CookiesKids.com can boost your child’s confidence, motivating them to experience the outdoors no matter the weather. Rain? Wind? Mud? Bring it on!