For an increasing number of parents, it’s a real challenge to get the kids outdoors and away from screens. The idea of a sunny hike is about as likely as them eating sprouts, and frankly, it’s hard to convince the little ones that there’s more to exercise than the Nintendo Wii.
As any parent would agree, the difficulty varies with each individual child. Their temperament, and willingness and even fitness levels are all different, yet the tricks to get them interested in real-life activities are more or less the same.
There are many reasons why we want to avoid too much screen time for our children, and there is plenty of research that shows too much screen time can be damaging to children’s eye health. So if we don’t want to have to worry about progressive lens problems later down the line then thinking about how we can reduce the amount of time spent in front of a screen can be very beneficial.
This guide has a few fresh and useful tips and tricks for not just to get the kids outdoors, but getting them to enjoy themselves as they do it. Even without their mobile phones!
1 – Make the car journeys enjoyable
It’s just as important to travel than to arrive, so they say. Whatever outdoor activity you have planned, you have to get their first, and as you know the kids don’t take too well to long and boring car journeys. Instead of going for the easy option and letting them use tablets, phones, and other electronic devices, why not stock up simple things like Toys for a Pound – encouraging them to interact with each other and take part in educational puzzles and games.
There’s a lot to be said for “real” games, as they can keep up their attention spans and keep them happy for long periods of time. Crucially this also means they’ll be in good spirits once you get to your hike, boat trip, hill climbing session or whatever you have planned for them. Away from draining screens, and more towards interactive toys – this is the key to a peaceful car journey on a trip out.
2 – Outdoors ‘I spy’ games
Nothing gets the kids engaged more than a little competition. So why not make a “boring walk” into a treasure hunt, or a observation game such as ‘I spy’. The simplicity might sound pointless to us adults, and perhaps we might expect it not to work, but if you have more than one youngster on the go, there is no better way to get them interested than to have them compete with one another. Maybe a toy Funko for whoever spots and names the most wildlife. Be creative and it will pay off.
3- Let them get filthy
It’s part of the fun for kids to get messy, full of muck, wet, lost, and stuck up trees. Obviously a line has to be drawn somewhere, but let the reigns go a little bit and let them at least get messy. Let them jump in the puddles, roll down the hills, and climb trees within reason. You’re basically teaching them that it’s fun to outdoors, which is an invaluable gift! Plus, kids are tougher than we give them credit for, and it’s no use wrapping them in cotton wool only for them to become hooked on their smartphones. There’s plenty of chance for that as it is. Let them have fun; you might find yourself having some as well.
4 – Give them a camera (not a phone)
This is a flawless way to getting the kids to take note of their surroundings, and it also feeds their creative needs too. Give them a camera which isn’t also a phone – as confusing as that may be for them, and get them to take pictures of things they find interesting. You could easily turn this into a game in one way or another, such as ‘take a picture if you see a…’ or you could just let them roam free with the illusion they’re hiding behind technology. Either way, they’ll find themselves having a purpose to be outside. Before you know it they won’t want to come back inside!
5 – Adapt to their interests
Again, much like us adults, every child is different. They have different likes, different ideas of fun and different ways they will enjoy the outside world. Use what you already know about them and work your trip around that. Fearless climber? Try out some outdoor rock climbing (they have lots out there suitable for the little ones). Introvert? Take a trip to the forest and have a picnic. There are countless options out there.
Whatever you choose, make sure you get them fully kitted out for summer trips outside. It will make any activity run much more smoothly and is worth every penny!
What do you do to get the kids outdoors?
This is a contributed post.
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