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Friday, September 25, 2015

Turn off the telly and go play outside!

As a child, this is all I ever remember my mum saying during the summer, and occasionally over the colder seasons when she’d had enough of three kids under her feet all day.
Today, statistics show that most children spend less than 30 minutes playing outside each week! It’s hard to believe. I grew up building forts and climbing trees…and so it comes as a shock to realise that children these days spend so little time outside.
Naturally, it comes with the easy access to technology that children have in the home. I didn’t have a computer in the house until I was around 11 and even then because of the lack of children’s games and with the joys of dial-up internet it wasn’t worth staying indoors for.
Now, children have access to hundreds of television shows, not just the basic 4 or 5 that we grew up with. They have mobile phones, tablets, X-boxes, Playstations etc…you can see where I’m going.
As a parent, it can be easy to ‘forget’ about the importance of playing outdoors. As long as your kids are quiet and you can get things done it’s easy to fall out of the habit of encouraging outside play, so here are our quick tips to getting the whole family outdoors and having fun.
1.       Go on a picnic
Pack a basket, take plenty of blankets and go for a walk. Burn off energy whilst finding the perfect spot for your picnic.
2.       Create a water park
It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Break out the paddling pool and swimming toys. There are lots of other great and affordable water toys you can buy like sprinklers and slip ‘n slides etc or you could try making your own.
3.       Take a hike/Bike ride
Plan a scenic hike or bike ride around your local nature reserve or park and have fun spotting different creatures and plants. Take a nature diary (a blank notepad will do) and ask your children to draw the interesting things that they see.
4.       Feed the ducks
Who doesn’t remember going to the local pond to feed the ducks at the weekend. All you need is a left-over loaf of bread and some hungry ducksJ
5.       Play at the park
A great way to get kids outside and playing with others is to take a trip to your local park. Your children will love trying all of the different activities and equipment.
6.       Chalk paintings
We’ve all seen Mary Poppins – how great are the chalk paintings that they make? Give your children some chalk and a spare space of concrete or slabbing and encourage them to unleash their creativity and don’t worry, a water hose will clear things off afterwards. Why not try chalking out a hopscotch game or a huge board game like snakes and ladders? Then each child can be a playing piece.
7.       Car Wash
It’s not always a chore that you enjoy but most kids love washing cars. So load up on the sponges, rags and soapy water and let your children wash your car for you. You could also give them toy cars to wash. They’ll spend hours dirtying and cleaning their cars.
8.       Forget the BBQ…Have a campfire
If you have one, set up and light a fire pit and allow your children to roast anything they want on sticks from marshmallows to sausages. Tell stories, sing songs and if you’re feeling really adventurous you could always camp out in tents.
9.       Have an epic water fight
Arm yourselves with water soakers, balloons, buckets, bottles, and hoses…whatever you want and divide into teams. The least wet team or person (if there is one) is the winner. It’s a perfect way to stay cool on a hot day, just remember the waterproof sun cream and have plenty of towels to hand.
10.   It’s time for a treasure hunt
Make maps, leave clues and hide the buried treasure. Dress up your little pirates and let them look. For best results and equal fun give each pirate/team a different map, leading to different treasure so that no one feels left out. Great looking treasure maps are easy to make, just stain the map with a teabag and either tear or burn the edges for an authentic, fun look.
There are so many benefits to outdoor play with just two of them being fitness and creativity so get creative and go outside to play.

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