School holidays are coming and many parents start to wonder how they are going to fill the days with activities to keep the kids busy. How many days before those dreaded words ‘I’m bored!’ are heard again?
Even when the weather is against us, it’s vitally important for everyone to spend time in nature every day. Here are a few tips to get children outdoors.
Kick them out!
Kids do like to play indoors but this is only something we have conditioned them to do over the last 20 years. In fact, children in the UK spent less time outdoors than prison inmates. Don’t be afraid to kick them out. Give them some age appropriate boundaries and the freedom to go in and out and they will naturally become more physical and use up energy. It’s important for children to see daily exercise as the norm and not something they are forced to do. Unstructured outdoor play is critical to a child’s development, helping them become risk aware and learn vital life skills.
It’s not always easy for parents to set aside time for nature. As the school holidays approach try and plan in a few hours here and there to commit to being outdoors. Get the kids out for an hour at least each day, even if it’s just a walk to the shops or park. A recent government report found more than one in nine children had not set foot in a park, forest, beach or any other natural environment for at least a year. Go further if you can and use The Living Coast interactive map for inspiration. It’s a really useful way to discover what’s right on your doorstep. Use the MENU to find local walks, nature reserves and places of interest.
If you have a whole day to spend out in nature, explore further on the TLC map and perhaps visit one of Sussex Wildlife Trusts’ top 10 nature reserves. Involve older children in the decision making, research and planning routes and perhaps packing a picnic to enjoy. Even when the weather isn’t great, wrapping up warm and sharing cake and hot chocolate out in nature can be lots of fun.
Walk. Walk. Walk. The best way for anyone to explore the great outdoors is with the senses they were born with. However, if the mention of the 'W' word creates a wave of groans in your house, consider getting technical. Discover the world of Geocaching and even the biggest tech addicts will get hooked on walking. In today’s ‘selfie’ world, most kids enjoy taking pictures, so go further and get some outdoor family shots to cherish.
Jumping in muddy puddles may be reserved for Peppa Pig in your house but it really is a favourite thing for many kids - even the big ones! It’s raining outside – so what? Wellies and waterproofs are fab family investments, so kit yourself out, and get wet together.
Need we say more? Spending time in nature is proven to reduce childhood stress and anxiety.
Ditch the wheels
It’s way too easy to jump in the car these days. We are a society obsessed with wheels. Children are kept in buggies much longer than ever before. The issue is time. SLOW DOWN. We are all much busier in today’s fast-paced world so the use of wheels is a much more convenient way to get from A to B. It doesn’t have to be like this. As soon as your kids are old enough to walk, give them the space and time to do so. You will be giving them a gift of health and appreciation of their surroundings for years to come.
Play with nature
If you really can’t bear the idea of facing the weather, or you just need to get things done around the house, don’t be tempted to turn to the square babysitter in the corner - bring nature indoors. There are heaps of natural art ideas on Pinterest and if you can cope with the mess, mud pies are so much fun to make. It’s only mud after all!