Childhood obesity is at epidemic levels in many countries around the world. How did this happen? Part of the problem is that we don’t get outside and move much anymore. We stay inside, in front of T.V.s, and laptops, and tablets. We play games. We do anything but get outside and move. Here’s how to reverse that trend and get your children outside.
Get a Playset
If you live in an urban area, with not much access to the wilderness, you could opt for Gorilla Playsets. These things are heavy-duty playsets that kids can run, jump, climb, and play on. A playset simulates being out in the wilderness, and provides a safe way to play outdoors when there are no other real options.
They do require a fair bit of assembly, but they’re well worth the investment.
Make It A Game
If you can make it into the woods, and you should really try, turn playtime into a game the whole family can enjoy. This might sound counterintuitive – isn’t playtime naturally a game? Not always. You see, children want your attention more than anything else.
Yes, they do want to play, but they want you to play with them.
When you ignore them, they may go off and play by themselves, but they may also become destructive and distracted. They may also get into things they’re not “supposed” to because they’re bored.
When you play with your children, you get to relive what it’s like being a child, and you’re also helping your child connect with you. That bonding time is irreplaceable. So, play games with your child like hide-and-go-seek or “tag.”
You may be surprised by just how much fun you have, and your child will behave in a totally different way than when you make him play by himself.
Go For Family Walks and Hikes
Family hikes and walks are a great opportunity for you to get some exercise while also giving your children a chance to explore nature. Most parents treat walks as a linear activity – you go from point “A” to point “B”. But, children don’t see it that way.
They expect to stop and pick things up, touch things, poke things, put things down, move things from one place to the next, then move them back. They want to throw things, and pick grass, find worms (and show them to you). They want to stomp their feet in the mud (like they’re not supposed to), and then give you a hug because they love you.
Instead of being annoyed, you should be helping them by facilitating the discovery process. Discovery is what being a child is all about. Many parents try to stifle this in their child because it’s inconvenient for the parent to adapt to what the child is doing. Parents often want their children to “sit still” and “walk straight” and “do what you’re told.”
To a child, this is torture. And, it prevents the child from learning how the world works “on their level.” It’s also completely unnecessary.
Sure, your walk will be slow (much slower) than if you were going alone. But, think of the walk as an adventure, not just a walk.
Don’t Micromanage Your Child’s Play Experience
When you do go outside with your child, have unstructured playtime. Most of the time, your child doesn’t need fancy toys and electronics to stay occupied. if you tell him or her use their imagination, they will.
Unstructured playtime is time when your child is encouraged to go outside and explore nature. It’s not time for a walk. You don’t have a destination. You encourage your child to simply explore the world around them. Often they will get lost in their imagination and be just fine.
Limit Electronic Devices While traveling
When you do have to go somewhere in a vehicle, resist the temptation to give your child an electronic device. While it might be an easy way to get them to settle down, it also makes them (and you) dependent on it.
It’s much better to entertain your child by telling him or her a story. Or, have your child tell you a story. Many children love to ramble on about their day. They will tell you about the adventures they had in the back yard.
If they seem hesitant to open up about it, ask them if they want to talk about it, but don’t force them to talk.
If they want to sit quietly, let them.
You can also play car games with them, like the license plate game.
If you have older children, it’s a great time to connect with them about how their day is going, what they’re learning in school, how they feel about various subjects, and possibly even more grown-up topics.
Jereme Thomas is the owner of Totally Swing Sets. Totally Swing Sets specializes in wooden swing sets and features top quality brands including Gorilla Playsets, Backyard Discovery and Backyard Odyssey. With a 110% price match guarantee and free shipping on all swing sets, Totally Swing Sets is the place to purchase a swing set for your backyard.