What to do to get your kid outside!
The experts...you know those people that make you feel bad about your parenting style...say children need an hour of green space each day. Green space? Ok. Can I just paint a room green and toss said children in? Course not. Green space refers to outdoor time. Time spent in nature. My child is just shy of 7. We live in a nice area however, I am not just going to let my kid outside without supervision. My backyard is a state hiking trail which is great. However there is only so many hikes I can go on before dinner needs to be cooked or dishes done. Most of her free play is in our front yard with the neighbors. Most days they play nice together but there are other days where it is not going to happen and Mommy becomes the director of play and needs to hang close by. As I ponder the "advice" of THEY I began to think...does my kid get an hour? How do you get an hour in after school when trying to get dinner on the table? I began to get creative as I can not always loom nearby and I do want her to have time outside in a safe manner.
First up is the coffee can. Or old food container....or any type of bucket or pail. I used to spend hours as a kid digging in our yard and scavenging for all sorts of treasures. The above picture contains a worm. This was going to become her new pet. She and her friends found some worms and then proceeded to name them and provide for them. They needed a bucket...good old coffee can worked. The worm needed dirt. Leaves. Rocks. All found in our front yard without digging or causing mass destruction to the landscape. Warning....your child will get dirty. I believe my little one was out in her white leggins. My idea on clothing is they are meant to be worn. I don't get hung up on my kid staying clean. Go. Get dirty. Explore. Create. So my dirty little worm hunter spent 2 hours handling her find. Getting just the right amount of dirt. Finding worms for her friends. When it came time to come in I told her the worm needs to stay outside. This was a bit of a struggle but I won in the end. Wash child. Fun was had by all!
~On a side note before you send Peta to picket my house I did go out after dark and find that darn worm and let it loose. I know it is just a worm but I am a softie at heart! You may do whatever you wish with the worms your child finds.
Chalk. Who does not like chalk? I always have chalk on standby. Even in the winter! You will notice in this picture not so much as drawing with chalk but making a fine powder. There are other times when our front yard looks like a a crayola factory opened up nearby! Nothing a good rain storm won't wash away. Chalk is great for not only drawing but also for making 4 square and hopscotch. It makes me sad that children do not know how to play hopscotch. If you don't know what hopscotch you will be happy to know it is not a game that incites children to alcoholism nor a game that mocks those with Scottish heritage. It is a game where you draw squares in sequence and toss a rock as you move around the squares. This game is great because it can be played by one or many. If you are unsure of this game you can find more information and rules on how to play here http://www.parents.com/fun/activities/hopscotch/
Climb a tree! Yes...a tree! This is our favorite tree to climb and hang out on. By hang I mean really hang. We are lucky to have this in our front yard. This tree has seen a lot of action! I have been letting my little one climb this tree since she first came to live with us at 4. There are times when I have had to lift her down. There are times when she ripped a shirt or two. With that said I have seen her grow in her balance, strength and ability. She jumps from the tree to the ground. She hangs upside down. Like I said this tree has seen some action! There are kids older then her who do not know how to climb. I strongly believe that kids who work their gross motor muscles will have better success as working their fine motor muscle. I can hear what you are thinking. What if they fall? What if they break an arm. Well....a child can break their arm falling off a bike. A child can bump their head on the coffee table and need stitches. (By the way both were my brother!). I am not saying have them climb the highest tree hanging over a pit if vipers surrounded by alligators! Find a small tree or even start with a shrub if you need to! Part of childhood is climbing trees.
Ride a bike or scooter. These are a favorite pastime of ours. Most of the scooter riding is on our front path and sidewalk. The bike we sometimes ride to grandma's who lives less than 1/2 mile down the road. Please teach your child young to always wear proper gear for whatever wheeled device they are using. Remember...they will follow your example! So wear yours as well!
The family pet! We love to take our little pup for a walk! We don't always get very far. Sometimes it is just having the pup on the lease out front! Throwing a ball for the pup. Throwing a stick. Or just plain old sitting with her watching the clouds roll by. All good. Playing outside does not always mean movement. It can be sitting and pondering. It can be laying in the grass and being quiet in nature!
Lastly is hiking! This is one of the trails behind my house my kiddo and I like to explore. It follows a river and all 4 seasons it is beautiful! This is a peaceful as it gets! We can often be found here. We don't just walk we explore. We will pick up sticks and bang them on trees. We will stop and smell flowers. We will throw rocks into the river. Hiking is not always about getting through the trail.
So the next time your kid says they are bored hand them a coffee can and scoot them outside! I tell mine to go play with the 3 dimensional people! We have been gifted this great earthy. Go. Be. Explore! HAVE FUN!