Are you fed up of constantly nagging your kids to go and spend some time outside? It’s a bright and sunny day and they are cooped up inside, more than likely glued to a screen, either playing a never ending game, or having ‘virtual’ chats with friends. Let’s explore some great ideas that may encourage your kids to go outside more.
The temptation that technology offers children and teens in today’s world is sometimes hard to resist. But with the ever growing social disconnect, as well as growing childhood obesity, we owe it to our kids to show them the benefits of spending more time in the great outdoors.
But how can we compete with the flashing lights and addictive lure of the latest game? Whereas a straight screen ban might seem tempting, a better way might be to show them what great fun can be had outside, without the need to keep checking in online.
A simple ‘go outside’ isn’t really going to cut it. Instead you need to flip it over and make going outside much more fun than being inside.
Which activity your child is drawn to the most will largely be dependent on their age. Having said that, despite outward protests, you’ll likely find all ages will secretly love all of these activities.
And most importantly, why not join them outside and enjoy the experience together?
1. Give Them A Section Of The Yard
This will largely depend on how much outdoor space you have available, but no matter how big your yard is, you should be able to designate an area that is just for them. Set out the ground rules about what they can and can’t do in this space and then leave them to get creative.
Suggestions of what they can do in this area might include a vegetable patch. Help them to plant a few seeds from their favorite foods and encourage them to look after them until they are ready to harvest. You might even suggest that if they have a large enough crop they could set up a little stall out front and sell their harvest to neighbours!
By growing their own food you’ll encourage multiple healthy habits – not only will they be outside, they’ll also be encouraged to eat fresh and natural foods. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as growing and eating your own produce.
2. Have A Water Fight
If the weather is warm enough it’s the perfect excuse to switch the hose on, fill up the paddling pool, and get the water guns out. You might be lucky enough to have your own pool in your yard, but if you don’t you can head to the local pool, or use an inflatable pool. There are plenty of fun water games you can play together too, just try to keep some water in the pool!
3. How High Can You Jump?
Bouncing on a trampoline provides endless hours of fun and exercise for kids and adults. You can choose to simply bounce up and down, or incorporate more of a fitness workout. Alternatively you can play some games on the trampoline such as dodgeball or simple catch with a ball. Another fun one to do is to put a sprinkler underneath the trampoline and jump through the water.
If there are younger children on the trampoline it is better to have one with an enclosure to prevent anyone bouncing off!
4. Play A Sport
Sports are the perfect way to tempt kids outside. The best way is to set up a game where there are multiple people involved and make a competition out of it. Maybe you could create a neighborhood “Mini Olympics Games” where kids can play various sports over various days. Perhaps each neighbor could host one sport per house. If anyone has any sports equipment such as a table tennis or a portable basketball hoop you can move them to one yard or large green space and make a day long sports event!
If these suggestions aren’t possible, there are plenty of local clubs that children can join and experiment to see what sport or hobby they enjoy the most.
5. Camp Out
Nothing spells adventure more than a camping weekend! If you don’t have a lot of spare time on your hands you can camp out somewhere local or even in your own backyard. If your kids are a little older they can sleep out in the backyard alone or with friends and gain the benefit of independence without being too far away.
6. Work On A Project
If camping under canvas isn’t your thing, perhaps you could build a tree house together. The idea may seem daunting especially if you don’t have any wood working skills, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. There are plenty of treehouse plans available online that you can download. If you don’t have any of your own tools to use, you can borrow some from a friend or family member. And, you never know… they might lend you a helping hand in building the tree house too!
7. Play With Pets
If you have a family pet it’s the perfect opportunity to spend more time outside (depending on the pet of course!) Dogs love to be outside and playing games with them will have the benefit of not only providing them with much needed exercise and training, but also strengthen the bond between them. And it’s not just dogs that enjoy being outside; guinea pigs are another pet that can be played with outside and can even be trained – just don’t ask them to fetch a ball 🙂 If you have an outdoor guinea pig cage you can also build a run for them to play about in – you could even make it large enough for a child to sit in too.
8. Go On An Adventure
You don’t need to be consigned to the back yard. You can head out as a family together and get to know your local area on foot. Plan out a route using a map, or just be spontaneous and see where your feet take you. You could collect things along the way such as leaves, sticks and other items that you can stick in a scrapbook to record your local adventures. Bring rocks home and decorate them, and then go out and hide them for other people to find. That could really be a lot of fun.
9. Go Bug Hunting
What is it about bugs and children? They just can’t seem to get enough of them. Satisfy their curiosity for bugs and insects by challenging them to see how many they can spot in your own yard. They could take photos and then print them out and see if they can identify them – or you could even let them collect some in a suitable container and study them under a magnifying glass – just remember to let them go again!
10. Eat Outside
Get that vacation vibe in your own backyard. Eating outside feels special, there are less distractions and a change of scenery spices things up. Kids love the sense of adventure that eating outside brings, so even if you are just taking food you prepared indoors to the yard, they’ll love it. You could lay out a blanket and have a picnic, or if you have an outdoor pizza oven you have the perfect excuse to eat outside all the time!
11. Go Star Gazing
Looking at the stars on a clear night is magical. You can simply lay back and gaze up into the sky (a trampoline is the ideal place to do this!) If you intend to make this a more regular activity, you can use a beginner telescope, or one especially designed for kids. Star gazing is the perfect activity to do alongside camping. It’s a way to be completely switched off from devices and to get lost in the wonders of the universe. If you need some help understanding what to look for, a good star gazing book will be worth the investment, or a look on an astronomy for kids site.
12. Watch A Film
If you really can’t drag them away from a screen, how about a compromise? Go outside and watch something on a giant screen! Outdoor movie screens are best enjoyed with friends and family where you can all get together and watch your favorite films under the stars! It’s like bringing the fun of a Drive-in theatre to the comfort of your home!