Getting the Kids to Play Outside Again…or not?

Every Spring, I notice we go through a period where my children need a lot of encouragement and, yes, parental pressure, to play outside again.  As they have gotten older, other more “interesting” forms of entertainment have taken over. 

I am sure I am not alone when I say that television, Youtube videos and video games play a major part in my children’s lives.

 Being a nature-lover myself, when Spring does finally roll around (this year it is taking exceptionally long) I want to get out and I want the boys out there with me!

So, we annually have this conversation:
Mom: “Let’s go outside.”
Kids: “Mooooooom.  There’s nothing to do outside.”
Mom: “There’s a ton to do outside! Ride your bikes, build a fort!”
Kids: “That’s booorrrrring.”

Eventually, I win (because I am the mom) and we go out.

I have done a lot of reading about this issue. Both online and in book form and there is a lot to say about how the world has changed since the 1970’s and 1980’s.  Whether it is a misconception or not (some feel it may be), many parents don’t feel it’s safe to let your kids wander around the neighborhood the way our parents did twenty to thirty years ago.  And there are some real dangers out there to be concerned about. I share those concerns.

And with the recent media frenzy over “free range parenting” – any parent who actually allows their kids to play in the yard (their own yard, mind you) without standing out there next to them, is afraid a neighbor might call the cops on them!

So, I ask you, what is a parent to do?

Everything seems to be consorting against us!

According to a news piece:

“A growing body of evidence is starting to show that it’s not so much what children know about nature that’s important, as what happens to them when they are in nature (and not just in it, but in it by themselves, without grownups). Respectable scientists – doctors, mental health experts, educationalists, sociologists – are beginning to suggest that when kids stop going out into the natural world to play, it can affect not just their development as individuals, but society as a whole.”

Balance.  It’s what I tell my kids.

Why can’t they play video games and watch t.v. all day?  Balance, kids.  Just like grown ups, kids needs to have a balanced lifestyle.  A variety of external stimulation, the healthiest of them being outdoor play.

I am happy to report that eventually they begin to enjoy themselves outside and even find their own fun with gardening, spraying each other with the hose and digging holes in the yard (deep, deep holes).

Additionally, I have a toddler that LOVES to be outside. That makes me happy for sure.

So, this year, like every year, I will be pushing my agenda with my three boys: “get outside!” and I know one day they will thank me for it.

– Jenny

Ps I am working up a list of summer challenges for my kids to accomplish outside…forts, and scavenger hunts – which I will share soon!

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One thought on “Getting the Kids to Play Outside Again…or not?

  1. I feel your pain on this one…it's as if we have this “discussion” every day. I HATE to see my kids lounge around all day inside. And I long to see them just get outside and enjoy being there (usually it's friends/the social aspect that gets them outside rather than wanting to explore or create or whatever). And then the other thing is Anna wants to walk over to the JFK playground by herself…and the whole “free range” thing goes back and forth in my head and I feel so conflicted. I guess as long as we are getting them in fresh air at least some of the time, we are making some sort of progress.

    Like

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