Have a go at these 9 ways to turn your kids into active kids
Play with them.
It’s not easy! If your like me you look forward to your kids being busy outdoors to get some work done indoors, there’s always washing or dishes needing done. I could be getting on with chores or having 5 minutes peace and quiet but your kids will want to go outside more if you go play too. More often than not they just want attention from you.
So have fun, let them see you smile and have fun.
Let them have a say in what they do outdoors, but be ready with a few suggestions in case you get the “I don’t know” reply!!
A strategy which works for us is to have one day at the weekend booked purely for a full day of outdoor fun.
We try to get the house work and chores done during the week and we save Saturday for outdoor fun and a Sunday is our allotment day or if anything else creeps up. This way the kids can look forward to full on family time on the Saturday and be prepared to muck in together on the Sunday.
If time together outdoors is predictable or planned then kids don’t fight against it.
We decide as a family what to do. If I have a voucher or tickets for some place we go there but very often we go to the park or the woods and just enjoy the day.
Trying new woods and parks helps to keep things fresh and we also take different equipment with us too. The bikes, scooters or bats are great for excercise but for the more laid back of us taking binoculars or a magnifying glass gives a different way of looking at their surroundings.
Another great tip if you have the room is to take a friend with you, either meet up with friends there or go together, it gives a new dynamic to an ordinary day.
Investigate their hobbies.
- If they like a certain sport or activity then simply do that with them. Take it further by getting them lessons or some coaching or better yet get involved and play together.
- If it’s swimming they love, maybe you could find outdoor pools to try or visit different pools. Maybe suggest a sponsored swim to give them a rewarding challenge to practise for.
- It could be they love to paint, go use nature as artistic inspiration.
- If they are technology minded, go out into nature and make a photograph journal using the latest apps or lighting techniques.
- Do your kids have an outdoor pursuit they love, If not FIND ONE. Try all sorts of activities to stimulate a love of something and when they love something, focus in on it.
Let their friends come and play.
Someone new to play with, adds new ideas and games to the mix. If you don’t have many kids around arrange a play day with kids from school, or why not join a club, or look at the library for events on for kids.
Children will make friends ANYWHERE most of the time, so even just going to the park can lead to a playmate.
I grew up as a Free Range Child. We left in the morning and only came home for Eating times and we knew it was bed time when the street lights came on.
It’s a different world now and I don’t like to let my kids out too far. As I run a day care, I’m very lucky that my kids have grown up with ready-made friends who are always here and go to the same school, Bonus!
But if you’re not as lucky, your can invite friends to your home or meet up at different locations. Team up with other mums to share the ‘burden’ during holidays etc. Take a day about so you all have a day to get stuff done and the kids never get bored.
Provide safe places to play
Taking risks is part of growing up, part of learning what we can and can’t do with our bodies and how to look after ourselves.
As parents we want to cuddle our kids in and keep them same but this can actually be harmful to our kids.
They need to know how high they can climb, how tight to hold on, and how far to push themselves and I’m afraid, telling them just won’t cut it.
Let them get out in a safe environment where they can experiment but arm them with the relevant info the need to be safe.
I read somewhere that you shouldn’t say things like “be careful” to children as this can make them overly cautious and nervous to try new things. Try saying things like ” Remember to hold on tight!” or “have you checked where to put your foot next?”
If you’ve ever seen the kids Christmas film , “Flight of the reindeer”
The reindeer believes he can fly, as he goes to try it and jump of the cliff his friend shouts ” you can’t fly” to him and because the seed of doubt hits him he falls and believes he can’t.
( He actually can and finds this out later when he believes he can) Well kids are the same, they need a ‘I think I can I know I can’ mentality.
Remember to discuss important safety stuff too like, what to do near strangers, how to react to dogs and animals, not to pick or eat anything unless they check first and what to do if the feel lost.
I like to give my eldest (he’s 11) a mobile phone when he goes out so I can contact him at all times and he knows he can get me if he needs me. He doesn’t get to go too far but in this area I feel better about the phone (no internet access just the phone)
Use Toy Rotation to Keep things interesting.
For kids who are younger and confined to the garden, they can get bored with the same old toys. Try rotating toys. Keep some out of sight in the garage or shed and when the kids get fed up of the ones that are out swap them for the ones in the shed.
Get them interested in outdoor games and sports.
Try something new, take them out and try a round of golf, go berry picking or take part in a community clean up. Anything different outdoors that might just spark something in your child.
What other point in their lives will they have the opportunity to try so many new things. We all know it gets harder and harder as we get older to find time for hobbies and adventures.
This is the reason both my kids are enrolled in the adventure scouts and Beavers. They love the opportunity to get out making fires, toasting marshmallows and camping away from my watchful gaze.
They’ve made so many friends through these groups and they get amazing opportunities to explore and have adventures with their friends.
Find time each day.
Include some sort of outdoor play into each day, it could be 10 minute game of hopscotch on the way to school or a full day canoeing up the river. Find time to sit in nature, to watch butterflies play and hear birds sing.
Get the kids to help make the picnics and essentials for the day ahead so you have a bit more time to do house stuff before you go. That way you can enjoy the time out and not stress about getting home to do X,Y or Z.
One tip I use is to put the washing machine on to wash at night so I have a full wash to put out first thing in the morning before we go and I don’t need to stand around waiting for a load to wash.
Make the outdoors a priority, Screen time comes after outdoor time.
Move activities outdoors.
When the weather is appropriate take it all outside. Crafts, reading, painting and even lunch can all be taken outside. Let the kids paint with their feet on a huge roll of wall paper, we did this a few years ago and they still talk about it!!
We use a patio table and chairs to have lunch at and read. A smaller plastic kids table we can move around for crafts and we have a picnic blanket and a few outdoor cushions to relax in.
If all else fails-hide the remote!
Sometimes when it’s been a long week all you and the kids feel like doing is vegging out in front of the TV. But try to make the commitment to get out each day. Cosy TV time is great occasionally but when it take presidence over active activities there’s a problem.
So hide the remote and tablets and phones or even just the charges. Have a family meeting and make a commitment to get outdoors.
Even If the TV is a reward afterwards. So long as you’ve been out in the fresh air you will feel better, more away and have more energy.
You never know that 5 minutes could turn into an exciting game of rounders or a bug hunt that lasts for hours. Butterflies are everywhere at the moment and my kids spend hours trying to count them.
So there you go, some ideas to help you encourage your kids to be more active and enjoy the outdoors more.
Let us know what you do to get out more.