You’re not alone in thinking that children should spend more time outdoors. Your children may be spending only half as much of their time playing outside as you did when you were a child. Instead of having to struggle to get them inside for dinner, you’re now tasked with a new challenge: finding effective ways to limit their screen time.
Simply explaining to your child that playing outdoors will improve their imagination, build muscles, and improve their coordination isn’t going to be convincing.You have to show your kids the difference between a real experience, like hiking outdoors on a beautiful trail, and an imagined experience, like getting Mario to jump from one floating platform to another to get extra points.
With that in mind, here are seven examples that you can utilize to encourage your kids to play more outdoors rather than stay indoors on their devices all day.
1. Go on picnics with your kids.
Younger children could be coaxed with kids superhero capes to play fantasy games, and taking them out into the country or a park on a picnic can be a great way to pull off a capricious caper. Instead of watching cartoons about superheroes on TV, encourage them to act out the parts by giving them a good reason to play outside.
2. Encourage biking.
If your kids are older, then take them to a bike shop and get them enthused about biking. Usually bike shop owners are avid cyclers and they will share their enthusiasm as they show your kids the latest selection of sleek bikes and talk about upcoming cycling events.
3. Lead by example.
If you show an interest in nature, your kids will likely follow suit. Your kids will want to join in the fun if you:
- Develop a passion for gardening.
- Show an enthusiasm for hiking on trails.
- Display an avid interest in bird watching.
- Help out in the garden.
In fact, if you can bring yourself to feign your poor grasp of the activity, the more enthusiastic they will be in trying to show you how to do things in a better way.
4. Collaborate with other parents.
Working with other parents allows you to collaborate on setting up playdates. Meet other parents for an outdoor get-together at places where your kids have an opportunity to play. It could be a public park, the beach, or some other scenic place.
5. Give them space to play outdoors.
Playing outdoors is more important than some may think. In fact, think beyond the backyard or visits to the local park. Go beyond the norm. Search out interesting places in your local area. This may include day trips to beautiful areas in the country.Once you and your kids start spending more time outdoors, they will initiate their own unique games.
6. Take mini-vacations.
Depending on where you live, you might be able to rent a beach cottage or a cabin in the woods near a lake. The best time to take these mini-vacations would be over long weekends, those wonderful times in the year when public holidays and weekends blend together seamlessly.
7. Go to famous national parks.
If you really want to take this whole idea of encouraging your kids to play outdoors to the next level, then take them to a famous national park and awe them with the grandeur of nature. Consider some of the following places to go on your family vacation:
- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which has more than 800 miles of beautiful hiking trails traversing North Carolina and Tennessee.
- The Grand Canyon, which has the largest canyons in the world, in some places a mile deep and as much as 18 miles wide.
- Yosemite national park.
A National Trust survey found that although 83% of parents thought that their children should learn how to use technology, nine out of ten preferred their kids to spend more time outdoors appreciating nature. Besides the benefits of fresh air and sunshine, spending time quality time with your children outdoors is priceless.
It may take some convincing at first, but once your kids realize how much fun there is to be had outdoors, you’ll have trouble keeping them inside.
My favorite time of the year is Christmas ...