Fitness and health begin at home, at a young age. Developing a love and passion for all things outdoors is just one way to promote a lifelong love of being healthy. Being outside is a natural want and need for our youngsters. Here are 8 simple ways to instill in children a love for all things outdoors.
8 Ways to Inspire Kids to Get Outside
1. Take Them on Walks
Go on walks and do it often. Take them to a nearby park, stroll around your neighborhood, explore your downtown area, or walk to a local playground. Find different walking trails to hit up. You’d be surprised at the opportunities. Have them take their scooter, bike, whatever it takes to make it more interesting. If you have a baby throw a healthy snack and a drink in the stroller. You will soon find that a walk will be something your children look forward to every day.
2. Go on Adventures Through the Woods.
There are so many things you can search for in the woods. In the Spring you can go mushroom and shed antler hunting. In the fall look for all different types of leaves. In the winter search out signs of animal tracks, or haul a sled with you for when you find the best sledding hill. The woods are full of discovery, and for young children, discovery is what drives them!
3. Have Campfires
Who doesn’t love a good campfire? You can have one any time of the year. The possibilities are endless with this one. Bring some hot cocoa, read a book, tell stories, or even plan a healthy meal that can be cooked around the campfire. The best part is, all you need is a good fire pit and a backyard!
4. Make Use of Local Area Attractions
It doesn’t matter where you live, there will be areas reserved for getting outside. City parks, state parks, forest preserves. Scope the locales out and discover what they have to offer your family in the area of outdoor activities.
5. Set the Example
Get outside! Not only does this make you happier and healthier, but it sets a good example for your kids. Have water fights, play tag, go fishing, take long walks, explore and discover with them. Show your children how important the outdoors are to YOU.
6. Limit Their Use of Electronics
This isn’t a post about how much your kids should be on their electronics, but the less you allow them to be, the more willing they are to go outside, use their imagination, and be content without a device in their hands.
7. Let Them Get Dirty
This one will make parents everywhere say “WHAT!!”, but seriously let them get dirty. How much fun can it be to go outside to play with a trail of “don’t get dirty” comments following you out the door? NOT VERY! I’ll be the first to admit that my kids tend to abuse the fact that we let them get dirty while they play outside, but seeing that big happy grin plastered all over their face when they come up to the house covered in mud and soaking wet is priceless. My kitchen may be littered with soaking buckets, and most of the time I feel I should buy stock in peroxide and dawn dish soap (2 parts peroxide + 1 part Dawn dish soap + any spray bottle = the best stain remover out there), but I take comfort in the fact that my kids love the freedom they have when they are playing outside, so they are able to dive into the task at hand and not worry about if they’re getting dirty or not.
8. Have Picnics Outside
This one is a favorite around our house! We have set aside a big old special quilt to use just for picnics, and it’s usually my children’s cue that there is a picnic in their near future. There’s something about eating outside in under canopy of a big old tree that is calming, encourages healthy eating, and promotes conversations between you and your kids. This is also my little secret to keep the kids outside playing and not inside hunting around for electronic devices or television remotes.
The best part of all of this…it’s mostly free! There usually aren’t any admission fees to enjoy the outdoors. I actually find it somewhat ironic that something children love is so cheap to enjoy. Granted, you may need to provide some equipment in order to enjoy some of these adventures, but a lot of it is stuff you may already have lying around your home. Don’t wait! Get outside, enjoy your children, and encourage them be healthy.