Friday, May 10, 2019

Ways To Get Children To Spend More Time Outdoors ♥

Summer is fast approaching and it's a perfect time of year for encouraging children to spend more time outdoors. I'm a big believer in ensuring that children have outdoor time each day, to get some fresh air, keep active and to blow off some energy in time for bedtime too.

If you follow us on Instagram you will see that we are almost always outside. The outdoors are the best playground and learning source any child can have and I love teaching my boys about nature, letting them get stuck into mud, water and anything else the outdoors throws at them - my belief is that as long as we have a bath and a washing machine there's no need to restrict them in embracing all things outdoors.

I wanted to share some idea from my own experience with my boys, that are perfect ways to get children to spend more time outdoors.

1. Have fun things in the garden
If you'd like your kids to spend more time outdoors but don't want to constantly be leaving the house in order for them to get fresh air, then having fun things in the garden for the kids to play with and explore is a great way of getting them outside, but still in the comfort of their own home.

As you can see in the picture above, my eldest boy loves swings and is always asking for one for our own garden. Wickey have a lovely range of swings and I especially love the wooden swing set, it's so classic looking and reminds me of the set I had as a child - and the hours of fun I had with it! If you're looking to add to the kids' fun you could even opt for a swing set with a slide or a climbing frame to give them an extra thing to play on in the garden.

Other ideas for the garden are slides, water tables, a mud kitchen or even a playhouse. I gave my boys' a shabby chic inspired playhouse and it's great for imaginative play (and for storing the toys that I don't want inside!).

2. Go on nature walks
This is another fond memory of mine as a child, going on nature walks in primary school and it's something I do quite often with my boys. We go to a whole host of places - woods, beaches, fields, country lanes, etc. and I let them forage and collect little bits and bobs of nature to take home.

To make the nature walk even more fun and educational you could give the kids baskets to let them store their nature 'treasure' as they collect it, or give them a sheet with names and pictures of different things to find when out and about. You could even make a nature table at home for them to display all their finds and there are tons of books aimed at teaching children about nature, so they can continue learning about the great outdoors when they get home.

3. Have family days out
Family days out are something that are really important to us and we try to explore a new place whenever we can. All of our family days out are at outdoor locations and it gives the kids a chance to run around and explore somewhere new, while us adults learn about the history of a place, etc.

Our favourite places to go are castles, manor houses, parks, pet farms and wildlife parks - anywhere that has a lot of open space! So look up places of interest in your area and take the kids along for a run about, or a walk in the buggy if you have younger children.

4. Take their games outdoors
When it's a sunny day I always make sure to take the boys favourite toys outdoors and set up a little play area for them - this encourages them to play outdoors and to make their messes out there!

We have a little kids table and I load it with Playdough and all the sets they have for it and they will play for ages with it! Tyler loves playing house so I take out his toy kitchen, give him some pasta or rice and let him pretend to cook up meals to his hearts content! Beau loves cars so I'll take the road track outside, give him boxes to make car parks, etc.

5. Let them play with water
This can be a hard thing if you're a parent who hates mess and mud, but honestly, there is nothing better to encourage children to play outdoors than water play.

During the heatwave last summer my boys spent the majority of their day outside in the paddling pool and in plastic storage boxes which they filled up with water and pretended were baths! Adding little bits such as water pistols, watering cans, buckets and sprinklers (all which can be bought cheaply from discount stores) just adds to the fun and encourages them to stay outside even longer.

6. Involve them in a sport
Sport is a great way of getting the kids outdoors and active. If they're into sport, joining a local football, rugby, hurling, etc. team is a great way of getting them outdoors for an hour, playing with team mates, learning a new skill and making new friends.

If they're not into sport, even just joining a local running or walking group so they can socialise with other kids while being active is a great idea too!

7. Go for a cycle
I loved cycling as a child and my eldest boy loves it now too. Letting children ride their bikes, either up and down the road where you live or a longer distance as a family, is a great way of letting them burn off some energy and enjoy the great outdoors from a new perspective.

8. Make lunch/dinner a picnic treat
Eating outdoors is always such a treat to the kids and it's something we tend to do a lot of during the summer. Pack up a picnic and let them eat lunch/dinner at a local park, the beach, the woods, wherever takes your fancy really!

9. Let them have a pet
Having a pet encourages kids to get outdoors as if they have a dog it'll have to be taken for a walk, if they have rabbits they'll have to pet them in the garden, horses can be taken for a ride, etc.

Not only does having a pet teach children about responsibility and caring for animals, it also makes them get outside more - and that's a great positive to being a young pet owner!

10. Organise outdoor play dates
When we meet up with friends, I always try to arrange the meeting place in an outdoor spot so that the kids can play freely and safely and have a great run around.

Our favourite haunts for meet ups are the local beaches, the woods and a local gardens that are perfect for letting the kids run free as there are no cars to be wary of. The kids will love playing outdoors, running about and climbing trees with their friends while adults will (hopefully!) be able to chat and enjoy their surroundings too.

Hopefully this post has given you some inspiration on ways to get children to spend more time outdoors. These are all things I do with my own boys and I'm proud to be raising little outdoor and nature lovers.

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