Why Daily Outdoor Time is Crucial for Kids (And What To Do Once You’re Out There!)
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Benefits of Going Outside + Outdoor Activities to Do With Kids at Home
I remember spending my summer days outside as a kid, building forts, playing kickball, running under the sprinkler…
…and even in the winter, we would bundle up and build snowmen, snow forts, and drive snowmobile.
My daughter is almost three, and she would live outside if I let her. But it seems like kids are getting outdoors less and less, especially as electronics become more prevalent.
(And yes, I will reluctantly admit that Kenna is a typical kid who would also spend all day playing on our phones or watching shows at home if we let her.)
But spending time outdoors is important for kids. Why? I’m going to go over the benefits of outdoor time for kids, then I’ll share a few outdoor activity ideas that you can do at home with them.
Why is outdoor time for kids so important?
Let’s go over some of the benefits of spending time outdoors:
- sunshine provides them with Vitamin D
- getting outdoors encourages movement and exercise
- it teaches them to appreciate nature
- it expands their world — and their imaginations
- playing teaches cooperation and encourages socialization
- research shows that kids who play outside are happier adults
How much outside time is recommended?
If you do a quick internet search, you will find a lot of different numbers when it comes to the amount of time kids should spend outside each day.
Ranging from 20 minutes to three, or even 4-6 hours daily, the numbers cited by “experts” can vary widely. So, how much outside time for kids is recommended?
I think we can agree that, when it comes to spending time in the fresh air, more is better in most cases. And it’s not just good for kids, but for us parents too.
However, we all have different lives and different circumstances. We’re busy with work, household chores, and so on. And location is a huge factor, as well.
Some of us live in places where it’s easy to get outside with the kids, while others might have a more difficult time finding places for their kids to play outdoors.
The ages of our kids can come into play, too. Younger children need close supervision, while older kids can possibly play outside on their own while parents work on household tasks.
Last winter, for example, I had a brand new baby and a toddler. It was freezing outside, and there were only a handful of days when we actually went outside for a few minutes.
Even now, this summer, Kenna needs close supervision while she’s playing outside, so I have to either wear Raelyn in a baby carrier or set up her outdoor playpen, and I need to have both girls in my sight at all times.
So, actually getting outside can be quite the ordeal.
Outdoor activities for kids at home
Regardless, I do feel it’s important to make a point to get in some outside time for kids every day, if at all possible.
If you absolutely can’t? Don’t beat yourself up over it, and try again tomorrow.
Here are some common obstacles that might get in your way, plus some activities and ideas to help you get outdoors more when at home.
1. Not enough time
Don’t have the time to sit outside with your baby or toddler?
- do work or schoolwork outside while the kids play
- cook inside (or grill outside), then eat your meal outdoors (after all, you DO have to eat!)
- replace your indoor workout with outdoor exercise, and include the kids
- schedule a time — pencil in ten minutes (or more) each day for outside time
2. Don’t have the inclination
Feeling tired or lazy?
- just do it! fresh air can be invigorating (and you will be setting a good example)
- restrict screen time and encourage the kids to go play outside instead
- set a recurring play date at the park and hold yourself accountable
3. Inclement weather
Disclaimer: If the weather conditions are potentially dangerous, STAY INDOORS!
- light rain? get an umbrella or dance in the rain
- too hot? go swimming or set up a sprinkler
- snowing? bundle up and make snow angels
4. Nothing to do outside
Not sure what to do outside? Here are some fun outdoor activities you can do at home with the kiddos.
- plant a garden or flowers with the kids
- go on a nature hike or scavenger hunt
- sit in a hammock and read together
- organize a group and play outdoor games (tag, kickball, etc.)
- take an after-dinner walk to the ice cream shop
- pack up your lunch and have a picnic
- take them to the park and swing, slide, etc.
- build something out of nature objects
- create art — use sidewalk chalk, washable paint, etc.
- blow some bubbles
- play yard games, like badminton or beanbag toss
- go for a bike ride, rollerblading, etc.
- take them fishing or swimming
- teach them outdoor safety with fun activities
Need more summer fun ideas? Here is a list of outdoor family activities to enjoy at home this summer.
You’re busy, I get it. It’s easy to find excuses to NOT take the kids outside on any given day.
I’m not judging; after all, I do the same thing. Some days will certainly be easier than others.
For example, just the other day, we spent hours playing on the beach. But yesterday, it rained all day so we just went out with an umbrella for ten minutes…and today I’m trying to finish up this post, so we have yet to step outside.
The reason I wrote this post was NOT to make you feel guilty for not spending hours upon hours outside with your kids every day.
I simply want to challenge you — and myself, of course — to get the kids outside for some amount of time every single day, even if only for a few minutes.
This is part of the #KidCultureBlogger Link-Up hosted by Jana at mypiccoloitaliano.com the last Saturday of every month where bloggers share their passion for exposing kids to culture through travel, cooking, events, art, crafts, theatre, and other unplugged learning experiences.