Moms put a lot of effort toward keeping kids healthy. We try to provide them with a nutrition-based diet, we find natural ways to boost their immunity when they need it most, and we are constantly reading about more ways we can contribute to their physical and mental wellness.
One of the most effective ways to keep kids healthy is to give them regular access to the outdoors.
Nature is one of the best nutritional supplements we have available to us.
Following are some of the many wonderful benefits of being outdoors.
- The sun is our best source of Vitamin D (be careful not to block it all out), helping to protect them from future diabetes, bone & cardiovascular issues
- Exposing them to dirt’s natural bacterias actually boosts their immune systems
- It improves their long-distance vision and decreases their risk for nearsightedness
- Decreases their risk for obesity
- Decreases their stress levels almost immediately
- The many new adventures available in the outdoors help build their confidence
- Effective in reducing ADHD symptoms
- Improves critical thinking skills
- It promotes creativity & use of the imagination as they have access to less toys in the outdoors
- The natural light balances their circadian rhythms, allowing them to sleep better at night
- It allows for more vigorous physical play, releasing soothing endorphins & increasing melatonin
As you can see, nature can provide our kids with so many beautiful things that they would miss out on if they were cooped up inside all the time.
Yet, with all of the gaming systems, iPads & other technologies they have available to them now, it’s not always easy to get them out there. Here is a list of 15 ideas to help make it a little more enticing:
Plant Trees Together
There is nothing more beneficial to our planet than planting a tree. They create the air we breathe, and filter out pollution. They are also pertinent in removing greenhouse gases, which cools the earth and slows climate change.
One tree, on its own, has the ability to absorb nearly 10 pounds of polluted air, and release 260 pounds of oxygen annually.
For a mere $10 membership to the Arbor Day Foundation, you can select 10 free trees that are compatible with your zip code. You will also have access to discounts and info about caring for your trees.
Find a Trail to Hike
Hiking a trail is a great way to get your family out in nature together. You may not know where to go, but AllTrails.com is a great place to get you started!
Simply plug in the name of your city or town, and the site will give you a list of trails near you. You’ll be able to see details about the type of trails, and whether or not they are kid-friendly, etc.
Put together a Scavenger Hunt
What kid doesn’t get excited about a novel idea like this one? The thought of hunting for the unknown is likely to get any kid up off the couch.
Need some guidance in planning? Here are a few fabulous approaches to create a fun afternoon that can put a quick end to the neverending “I’m booored” syndrome.
Catch bugs & make it a science lesson
Summertime is the perfect time of year to find bugs and study them.
- Have them dig for worms in the dirt and then add them to your compost bin. Or you can create a worm farm together and watch them do their thing.
- Butterflies are beautiful creatures with so much variation in their patterns–it’s like art & science wrapped into one! Teach them how to make their own nets to catch with.
- Lightening bugs or Fireflies have been a wondrous phenomenon for the little ones generation after generation. Help them make a jar with breathing holes, just like this one.
Give Geocaching a whirl
Geocaching is a treasure hunt, but a high-tech version. And what better way to involve technology–something they are likely more drawn to–in their nature experience?
Check out this article for more info on how you can get your kids started.
Explore a nearby State Park
Our state and national parks are an invaluable resource to families all over the country. Typically, for a small entry fee your family can participate in a variety of recreational activities–from swimming in chlorine-free waters and kayaking to exploring caves and observing wildlife. And the natural beauty just can’t be beat!
Locate a park near you:
I don’t think there is a better way to get kids excited about the outdoors than pitching a tent and sleeping under the starry sky. Camping is a great way to get them more in touch with their nature side, and there are so many ways to make it eco-friendly.
Create a Fairy Garden
Gardening in general can be really fun for kids, but add in the fairy concept and you have a real gem on your hands. There is something so fun and magical about creating their own little fairy-attracting homestead.
Check out this awesome video to learn how to do your own with your child:
Build a Fort
Building a fort in your backyard, is another enticing way to draw the kids outside. There are several ways to go about this. You can:
- Throw some blankets over a clothesline
- Dig out the camping tent and just pitch that
- Don’t have a clothesline? Use some outdoor chairs!
- Simply decorate an existing structure, like a small shed
- Tie together some branches to make a teepee
Check out this pinterest search for more ideas.
OR, if you are feeling really ambitious, check out these more elaborate fort ideas:
Let them Play in the Rain
I think most moms’ first instinct is to keep the kids indoors when the raindrops are coming down. Honestly, though, as long as there is no lightning along with the moisture, I don’t see a lot of harm in allowing them to play.
Rain adds an excitement to being outdoors for many kids. I’m sure there is also a sense of the forbidden that adds to the attraction. And what kid doesn’t find joy in splashing in the puddles?
Here is an awesome list of ideas for making playing in the rain even more fun.
Engage in some Cloud Gazing
On a clear, sunny day with a sky full of fluffy clouds, I can think of nothing better than lying on a blanket trying to make out the images overhead. It’s a great opportunity to use the imagination and also practice mindfulness.
You can also make it into a fun science lesson!
Organize a Neighborhood relay Event
Do you have access to a neighborhood full of kids? Or maybe you are having a large family gathering. Getting a group together is a great opportunity to pull out the old backyard relay games from our past.
Here is a list of 45 relay games to try. It’s also a great way to keep the kids moving and active.
A New Spin on Water Play
Water adds a new element to everything when you’re a kid. The standard backyard kiddie pool can be great fun, but check out these ideas for a new spin on things. It’s also the perfect way to combat those complaints of being too hot out.
Visit a local Farm for Fruit picking
Your family may never have the pleasure of living on a farm, but almost every family has access to a local farm that offers “harvest your own fruit” opportunities. Allowing your children to experience the root of their healthy snacks can be a real game changer. And there is nothing better tasting and good for us than fresh produce.
Find an Outdoor Family Event
In the summertime, there is no shortage of fun activities going on outdoors. You can find festivals, live music, movies, plays, you name it. The weather is warm, so there is no reason not to take advantage of the opportunity.
Look up your local Parks & Recreation organization to find out what’s going on near you, or scroll through Facebook events.
Summer is Here!
Have a great summer with your kids, and use these ideas to motivate them to get off the couch!
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Do you have more ideas for getting the kids outdoors? Comment down below.