In the not too distant past, kids grew up in homes which had few engaging activities to offer. Stuck between four walls with nothing interesting to do, children went outside to play, hang out with friends, and explore their environment. Nowadays, our homes are stuffed to the brim with entertainment options for kids, including TVs, video game consoles, toys, arts and crafts equipment, to name a few. This made staying indoors a more attractive proposal for a lot of kids (and parents), but it had its share of downsides as well. There are plenty of fun and useful things to do at home, but when this is taken to the extreme, children end up failing to develop their social and outdoor skills, and it’s not healthy to stay cooped up inside all day either. The solution to this dilemma might seem obvious, but it still bears mentioning – spend more time outdoors with your kids!
Sounds easy, right? In a sense, there is nothing simpler than taking your kids outside for a while, but having the best possible outdoors experience will require some additional planning. There is so much to do outside, it can sometimes be difficult to find an activity that works best for you and your kids. Planning and organizing everything is another obstacle you need to tackle, especially considering the hectic pace of modern urban living. But once you figured everything out, spending time outdoors with children is one of the most rewarding things you can do with your time. To give you an idea of what awaits you once you step beyond your doorstep, check out our guide for having an awesome time with kids in the open air!
Go On An Adventure – Roleplay!
By now, you have heard about all those video-games where people take the roles of warriors or wizards, in order to go on quests to slay dragons, rescue princesses and collect booty. Did you know that games like these actually used to be played in real life with nothing more than a handful of dice, some sheets of paper, and plenty of imagination? These so-called role-playing games allowed kids and adults alike to take a trip into fantastic lands and have an epic adventure like those found in books, comics or movies.
The essence of these games was the idea that telling an engaging story based on something mundane as rolling the dice can be extremely fun. Why not use the same principle when going outside with your kids? A simple walk in the park can be turned into an epic quest through inspired narration, and the best part is that both you and the kids can contribute. “Look young warrior! There be the Great Frostlake Avians, sacred animals of this grove! Let us offer them tribute in exchange for their blessing and protection!”
Engage With The Local Community
Humans are social creatures, which means they are born into a community. We are always surrounded by other people, who behave in similar ways as we do. The better part of growing up is concerned with learning how to act by watching what others are doing, and this is especially the case for younger children. By spending time with your kids outdoors, you are given the opportunity to influence the way in which they will carry themselves in the future. This task carries with it a great deal of responsibility, but it is an essential part of raising a child.
Take littering as an example. Some people do it, some people don’t, but it is the job of the parent to explain to his or her kids whether they should be doing it, and why. This doesn’t mean ordering them around, but rather pointing out how everyone benefits from doing certain things. Talking to your kids about why rubbish removal is important by pointing out that it makes everything looks nicer is just one way to teach them the dos and dont’s of communal life.
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Learn Something About The World
Take a step outside your building and look around. What do you see? Cars are racing by, growing louder as they pass nearby. Raindrops are slowly accumulating into puddles of water. The branches of trees are bare, and their leaves litter the pavement. Someone is trying to light a wet cigarette, without much success. These mundane phenomena don’t strike us as very interesting, but taking a closer look is all that’s needed to make them fascinating. The mechanics of how sound travels, the metabolism of plants, the transformation of energy from one form into another, these are all examples of how we make sense of the world through thinking. And figuring out how stuff works is a prelude for actively changing reality.
Kids understand this better than adults. Their eyes are primed to take as much information as possible from their environment. But sometimes they need help processing what is going on, and this is where we adults can help. By giving kids hints about how things work, we are feeding their inherent curiosity, allowing them to develop a richer understanding of the world. And there is no better place to do this than outdoors.
We have only scratched the surface of how to spend quality time with your kids outdoors. Since there is too much stuff to go over in the space of a single post, we will leave you with the following bit of advice – use your common sense, plan adequately, and most importantly try to have fun!
About the author
Chloe Smith is a cycling enthusiast and a part-time writer always willing to share tidbits of advice. She believes that passion, courage and, above all, knowledge breed success. When she’s not working, she’s probably somewhere cuddled up with a good book, and a cup of lemongrass tea (or more honestly binge-watching the newest Netflix hit show. You can reach Chloe on Twitter.