Let’s talk about refinding the outdoors for our children. On his recent visit to Sweden, Prince William,  said something that really struck accord with me:

“One lesson that we will take home with us, is that children are actively encouraged to spend time outdoors, whatever the weather.”

I profess to neither being heavily pro or anti-monarch – but I have respect for William and Kate for their stand, not just as people, but as parents. They represent many organisations and virtues that we should take heed of.
In fact outdoor play should be one of the biggest issues we pay attention to. Last summer, research from Sudocrem showed that children in the UK up to the age of 11 are now spending, on average, around 45 hours a week in front of a screen (mostly online). They are only playing for 5 hours outside.

5 hours a week

 

Think about that – less than an hour on average a day is spent outdoors!
If we think back to our own childhoods, that figure for many of us would have been in total reverse.
Why this matters so much more than you might think:
  • When children are younger they need their whole body to develop their gross motor skills in order to control their fine motor skills – like holding a fork or pencil.
  • As children get older various studies have consistently shown how outdoor play leads to better social skills and much reduced anxiety.
  • Interestingly enough over 50% of children researched in the Sudocrem piece said they themselves thought they were spending too much time indoors not enough playing outdoors!

 

Indoors and online is just so easy

That’s not to say being online doesn’t have it’s own advantages. In an era of increasingly focused on E-safety, I was particularly inspired by Nigel Higgins’ words. He told us not to forget the good old fashioned ways to have fun. By that, he meant being outside in the main!
But in a time where we’re busier than ever, how can we get outdoor play back in our children’s lives in a way that feels fun, safe and meaningful?

Getting back to the outdoors

 So how can we embrace the outdoors that puts the fun back into things? Here’s my tips:

  1. Give them their own workstation: No matter how big or small access to outdoor space in, try to create a mini-station that can be placed outside. Even for a small amount of time. Something like a Tuff Tray for instance is a brilliant way for encouraging outdoor activities that are confined to safe spaces.
  2. Arrange an outdoor date routine: Being outdoors more isn’t just good for the kids, it’s good for us parents too! Arrange a special date that you can get excited about as a family. It doesn’t have to be somewhere particularly glamerou. It can definitely be done on a budget to the countryside or out of town walk. Whatever it is, make sure you commit to it, and do it together as a family.
  3. Get a great hat/ warm gear: When the kids are wrapped up nice and warm, even the cold of outside can’t stop the fun. So get some quirky hats, scarfs and gloves. Introduce a bit of fun into proceedings and be that family who might as well be little teddy bear family climbing up a near hill!
Whatever you do, there’s a whole wide world out there to explore. It’s not only vital for the children, it’s something that more than likely they want themselves, and now even has a Royal seal of approval.
Embrace it, and lets have some real fun.