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The sun is out, the sky is blue, and somewhere in the world, there is the sound of children playing.
Only here's the thing....those aren’t your kids.
Rather than enjoying the fresh air and natural beauty of the world around them, some children are probably playing indoors, not with board games and building block puzzles, but on their video games and smartphones, oblivious to the fun things they could be doing elsewhere thanks to their screen time addiction.
Up and down the country, you will be able to hear the exasperated cries of their parents, trying desperately to remove them from their beds and sofas, probably unsuccessfully as their children stubbornly refuse to move from their sedentary positions!
This, of course, is something you might be familiar with yourself. If your children are more interested in their virtual worlds than the real world outside, then you might struggle to move them from their seats, and the more you try to prise their smartphones and joypads from their hands, the harder it will be, as you can expect temper tantrums and anguished cries. They will bombard you with a range of excuses as to why they shouldn't play outside, and eventually, you might well give in to their protestations.
But here's the thing. You know that fresh air and sunlight is good for your children. You are, no doubt, fully aware of the health benefits of exercise. Getting your kids outdoors is a must then, so in the event that they do refuse to put their shoes on because of their excuses, you need to find ways to counter them.
Here are some suggestions that you might find useful.
This is a valid excuse, of course, as we don't all enjoy the warmer temperatures. If your kids genuinely hate the hot weather (and they aren't just using it as an excuse to spend longer time indoors), then you might want to find ways to make it more palatable for them.
You can do this by providing shelter. By putting up large umbrellas in your garden, or by adding a patio roof or awning over your decking, you will be able to provide playing areas for your children that can provide some protection from the sun. Your children will be able to bring their phones and tablets outdoors too (if they really have to), as there will be less of a glare on their screens.
Another thing to do is to have fun with water.
This is a great way to keep your children cool when they're playing in the garden and (unless your children despise getting wet) is a guaranteed way to encourage them to go outside. So, invest in a few water shooters, arm your kids with water balloons, and buy other things that provide water-based fun, including a paddling pool and a water slide. And while you might not need to do much more than provide your kids with the tools they need for watery fun, you might still use these water game ideas to keep them entertained should they be tempted to head back indoors with their wet and slippery feet.
And there are other ways to keep your kids cool when they're playing outside. You could turn the sprinklers on occasionally so they can enjoy a little more watery respite from the hotter temperatures. You can keep them topped up with cool drinks, popsicles, and hydrating summer snacks. And you can dress them in light clothing and hats, so the belting rays of the sun don't overwhelm them while they are playing.
Here's a common excuse, and is typical amongst children today.
Thanks to video games and smartphones, many kids struggle to find ways to entertain themselves. They have become reliant on the virtual experiences on offer to them, and have become less reliant on using their imaginations when it comes to play.
Of course, the word 'boring' is something children apply to a lot of things, and again, it might just be used as an excuse not to remove themselves from their favorite indoor experiences. Whatever the case, you might, as the parent, find ways to make going outdoors seem less boring to them.
You can do this by providing games and toys that they can play with.
We have already mentioned those things you might purchase for water games, but you might also fill your garden or yard with other things. So, you might buy sports equipment for your kids, perhaps with a basketball net that can be attached to your wall (hint: keep it away from any nearby windows), or a soccer ball with the appropriate nets for scoring goals.
You might also buy giant garden games, such as king-size versions of Jenga, Snakes and Ladders, or Twister. And what about a trampoline? Or a Swingball set? Check out these outdoor games, and purchase anything according to your budget and tastes of your children.
Of course, your children don't necessarily need to have any equipment to play with.
There are all kinds of games that they can play outside that don't require you to open up your purse. They could play tag or hide and seek. You could set them off on a scavenger hunt, be that in your garden or somewhere further afield if they are old enough to go on their own. You might make an obstacle course for them, using items you have in your house or shed. And you might teach them how to play these running around games, which are not only fun to play, but are perfect for getting your kids to exercise too!
Playing outdoors isn't boring, but if your children struggle to find things to do for themselves, then use these suggestions to convince them otherwise.
Now here's the thing about parents, and the same might be true of you too. In a bid to claim back some time for ourselves and to get some peace and quiet, we often try to get our kids outside so we can spend time inside to enjoy the solitude.
And this is fine; sometimes we do need a little breathing space from our little ones.
However, this shouldn't become a habit. As parents, we know that we should practice what we preach, so if you're advocating the benefits of sunshine and fresh air to your children, then you should do the logical thing and spend time outdoors yourself. You might still get some me-time, as you could sit under an umbrella reading a book while your children play. Alternatively, you might also take the opportunity to bond with your children, especially during the summer when you have ample time to do so.
So, put down your phone and return to your endless pile of unanswered email later.
Get outside with your kids, and other than finding time to relax in your little corner of the garden, find things to do with them. So, you might head out for a day at the beach, or you might visit the local park for a day surrounded by nature.
If there are any activities happening in your local area, take your children along to them. There might be a summer féte, for example, or there might be a sports day happening in your local community.
You might also take the opportunity to find ways to exercise with your children. So, you might go on a bike ride together, or you might go for a hike if there are any trails near you. You might also spend an afternoon at a local swimming pool, and take part in any other activities that are available at your nearby leisure centres. And rather than teach your children how to play those running around games that we linked you to earlier, you might also play those games with your kids too. Not only will you then get the exercise you need, but you will have oodles of fun too!
So, think about what you could do with your kids, and research any activities that are happening near you. By making the effort to get outside with them, you will both encourage them to head outdoors, and you will create family bonding moments that wouldn't happen if you or they were inside your home tapping away on your respective smartphones.
There are probably a whole host of other excuses that you have heard your children use at one time or another, but chances are, they probably aren't very convincing.
Still, whatever they use as their excuse to live indoors all summer, you might still use the suggestions we have given you in this article. By finding fun things for them to do, and by actively taking part in these things with your children, a miracle might happen, and they might actually start to enjoy the great outdoors around them.
Of course, if you have too much fun, you might then struggle to get them back indoors again, but that's an article for another day!
Thanks for reading and good luck, Mama!
Founder | Contributor
Liz is a wife, mom, blogger, coder (and unabashed digital nerd), PhD student (and huge psychology geek), workout masochist, and occasional human being. She founded The Stay Sane Mom after marrying into the role of stepmom to a preteen girl (and Instagram addict) and shortly thereafter having her first bio kid (now a toddlernado supreme). Her goal is to provide tools and support to help other capable, sleep-deprived, soul-hungry moms master their domains so they have the time and energy to be more than just 'mom'.
Stay Sane Mom gives support to the over-worked, under-slept, marker-stained, soul-hungry moms of the world, so they can be more than just "mom".
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