I cannot tell a lie, I’m personally not a huge fan of nature. Gee, that’s a heckuva way to start out a blog post meant to encourage people to get their kids outside, isn’t it? Stick with me. Here’s where I’m coming from; I am a fair skinned gal with seasonal allergies. Are you with me? Basically, the sun and the trees are out to get me. Thank God for modern medicine. With the help of a little pill, and a healthy slathering of sunblock, this little Norwegian is ready to leave the comfort of shade and recirculated air, and get into the great wide open.
When my kids were born, they were each blessed with my aforementioned afflictions. Fortunately, my inability to be cooped up for any period of time took over, and it became essential for us to spend a little time outside each day. As a mom, here are the benefits I feel we’ve reaped:
- The outdoors are sort of naturally childproofed. Our backyard is fenced in and safe. The kids with their Nerf toys, and I with my lawn chair (I’m not much of a yard work type) free to be and do with fewer risks and hazards. It seems like I do far less chasing around when we’re outside. This is wonderful for my sanity
- The outdoors provide a new backdrop for kids to use their imaginations. The other day, our backyard was my four-year-old’s moon, my one-year-old daughter was busy setting up a little “house,” and her twin brother was making friends with the ants. I think it’s important to give kids loads of free time to develop their imaginations. As parents, I find (especially in more recent times) that we are a little too hands on from time to time, and I think that can lead to the “I’m bored” conversations that we dread as they get older. It’s good for them to be responsible for their fun. In other words, I give you permission to take your book outside, forget about the laundry piling up inside, and relax. From time to time, put the book down, and listen to the amazing things your children are imagining in this outside world. Ask them questions, but try not to interfere unless they’ve invited you. It’s amazing what they come up with.
- You know what is better than any sleep aid for an adult? Fresh air. Guess what, it works for kids too! On the days that we have spent the most time outside, those are the days that bedtime is a breeze. The lights go out, and we don’t hear a peep until late the next morning.
- Fewer rules! Or rather, different rules. Our rules about running, yelling, and climbing are all out the window (so to speak) when we’re outside. This, coupled with the fresh air is the perfect combination for wearing kiddos out. I have no idea what it’s like to be able to run endlessly for hours on end, but my kids sure do, and when we’re outside of the house, they’re free to do it. When my kids were just learning to crawl or walk, there were fewer hazards for them outside than inside, and more opportunity to practice, not to mention the grass lends the perfect soft landing space. It’s not just the older kids that get the chance to enjoy the lack of parameters.
For now, we prefer the backyard, but as my kids grow, I know that there are millions of options for outdoor enjoyment that we will no doubt tap into. I know that these days of dandelion bouquets and sun kissed cheeks will once be a memory, but I’ll tell you what, I’m going to live into each and every moment of it while I can, allergies be damned!