Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Too hot, too cold- Get the Kids Outdoors More

"It's too hot." "It's too cold." These are the responses I get from my kids when I ask them to go out and play.
Do your remember the people on WALL-E the cartoon? They were obese, their bone density had decreased, they could hardly walk, and just stared at a monitor all day? Ok, I don't think we are there yet, but we are headed that way.
When I was growing-up (I know this is the dreaded "old person's" way to start a conversation) we only had television (a couple dozen channels) and Atari. Besides the frequent Saturday morning scheduling of cartoons, I was not glued to the television. I am so thankful I did not have to overcome the temptation today's youth have. Being able to instantly communicate via computer or text with a friend, surfing the net for information on everything, and intricate video games.
I would never have left home.
So, how do we do it now?

1. Start them Young: Anything we can do to start kids enjoying the outdoors while they are young, the better chance they will continue that.
2. You get out. You as the caregiver/parent need to role model being outdoors. Even when I need to do some work from home, I try to bring the paperwork outside to do it (not in the winter though).
3. Go camping. Talk about full exposure.
4. Give them something to do outside. When I was trying to find out the best way to hang a swing for kids, I read something that said, "A swing entices kids to come outdoors." I have found that to be so true. Kids are gravitated to it. Get them something to play with (volleyball net, basketball hoop, back-catch, bubbles, bocce, etc).
5. Get them interested in nature. Give them a camera, bug catching kit, a nature book, or set-up a nature scavenger hunt.
6. Do planned activities outdoors. Plan a cook-out, a hike, cloud watching, a festival, picnic on a blanket, a guided nature walk, a zoo trip, etc.
7. For those who like art, set-up an easel to draw landscapes or nature.
8. Visit waterfalls or other nature spots.
9. Set-up a fort, kids area for activities, a patio or deck. A deck I have been told invites adults to come outside. I am not sure what it is about wooden planks being over a yard verse a table sitting on the grass, but hey if it works.
10. Have a schedule. Home from school, snack, and get outside.
11. Turn off the electronics. (TV, computer, games, not the fridge etc).

If all else fails, sit them down inside and start a story about "When I was your age. . . " They will be running for the outdoors.

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