Outdoor activities for kids: the benefits of having fun the old-fashioned way!

In my early twenties, my children grew up at the dawn of a new era of childhood. An age defined by technology and a variety of electronic gadgets that I could never have imagined when I was younger.

As a child, I grew up playing with tadpoles in our backyard pond and searching under rocks for scary crawling creatures. Today’s children are fascinated by computer games to the exclusion of almost everything else.

Unfortunately, the technology-based activities available to our children are largely sedentary and do little to help them use the natural energy reserves they were born with. And if you have children, you know how difficult it can be to “unplug” them!

Yet, there is so much to be said for getting your children out and involved in the natural world while they are still young.

But the sad truth is that many children today simply don’t know what to do once you’ve taken them away from their computers and into “nature”. That’s why I thought I’d share with you some of the things we used to do with our kids and the benefits of having fun as a family, the old-fashioned way!

Share the fun – Your children are more likely to follow you when you actually do what you say. If you are constantly trying to get them out to play, then you should go outside too! The more you play with your children outside when they are still young, the more likely they are to adopt an active lifestyle.

Spend quality time with your children – Spending time with your children outside is a great way to see what they really enjoy doing. You can even share some of your favourite games from your childhood, such as hide-and-seek, freeze tag, hopscotch and “red light, green light”.

Health is also health – Whether it’s biking, walking, throwing a ball or playing Frisbee, we’re generally more physically active when we’re outdoors. And the more your children see you moving, the more tempted they will be to participate in the game!

Coordination is a learned skill – Activities such as ball games, rollerblading and tumbling on the grass are all ways to help your child strengthen and improve their coordination and dexterity. And like everything else, the more they practice, the better they’ll get.

Help them discover their passion – Spending time outdoors doing a variety of activities with your children can open up a whole new world of new and exciting things for them to enjoy. Consider planning and doing a bug hunt together, or why not go bird watching? Try some new sports or go hiking in the mountains.

Of course, being outdoors doesn’t always mean competition, so ask your child for ideas and use your imagination. There’s really no limit to the fun things you can do outside!

De-stress and relax – Your children are no less sensitive to daily stress than you are. And spending time outdoors is one of the best ways to relax and get rid of that stress. Now that the days are longer, make it a point to spend some family time outdoors. Relax, have fun and you’ll all feel better!

Memories in the Making – Whether your children are 4, 8 or 18 years old, make spending time together outside the home a family tradition. Explore the great outdoors, have picnics, play sports together, laugh and have fun. The happy memories you gather will be with you for the rest of your life.

While it may often seem easier to let your children do what they want instead of forcing them away from their video games and computers, in the long run you’ll be doing your family a huge favour. We all need physical activity to stay healthy, but for our bodies to grow, it’s essential!

Even if all you can do is spend 30 minutes a day outdoors, make sure that everyone gets together. Believe me, not only will it cheer you up and make you feel better, but it will bring your family together in a way that few people can do otherwise. I know it has done ours.