Get Our Kids Outdoors – No More Couch potatoes
I was brought up on a childhood of the great outdoors, being the youngest of 6, we didn’t have much but we had lots of imagination, fun and never tired despite having played outside for hours at a time. Before any alarm bells ring, we were fed and watered properly during this time to dispel any neglect worries! 🙂 However, despite having little we could cycle, run around the open fields, play peetoe (its the most awesome game and can’t believe its only a Lancashire thing) and would spend hours making daisy chains and just being kids.
Fast forward to 2013, we moved back to the north west and I noticed that the children looked drained, that youthful bounce and inner glow was missing on their faces and it saddened me to my very core.
Being outdoors not only gives so many health advantage it also offers lots of different ways to ensuring mental wellness that in today’s society our children are missing out on. I think the culture of having “things”, the digital age and our lifestyles have resulted in the next generation of children being trapped in homes with little or no exposure to the outside world. I will hold my hands up here, my little adventurers have too many things but its something that we are trying to cut down and Doc is on a real mission to try and promote the idea that less is more. Plus, I have made myself a promise that we will do something outdoors with the kids every weekend despite the weather (those who haven’t visited Blackburn, it rains here lots!). I will be honest and say that I do not let my children play out on their own. Given their young ages and the fact that we live outside a super busy road (and lots of lunatic drivers) I refuse to let them play outside.
I saw this posted on facebook last week and its been on my mind since…
Some of the figures are truly shocking, 5 million children have never been on a picnic, 21% of children haven’t visited a farm and the number of hours that our children stare at screens is just getting higher. It really saddens me that children are missing out such fantastic experiences by being kept indoors. I have discussed this with lots of different parents and one of the reasons is the cost, but going outdoors doesn’t have to be expensive outings (though these are nice) but there are so many things out there to inspire families to get them outdoors. I thought I would try to help by putting some suggestions of different ways in which families can get outdoors.
50 things to do
One of my favourites is 50 things children should do before 11 3/4 which is launched by the National Trust. It covers a really wide range of things and I love the fact that it also caters for a wide are range of children! Here is the site where you can let your children make their own account and tick off the 50 things they have done. Each child can make their own account and its a great way of keeping track of the activities that they have been doing. For a full list here you go:
We have joined Maya onto the system and now that her reading is improving we are going to get her to fill this in over the summer. The site is really user friendly, the children get badges for the things they have done and parents are able to use the site to get ideas of different places to take their children and also what activities are available at those sites.
We joined the national trust this year (and we love it) but most of these things can be done in local places, parks, beaches, adventures are there if we look for them. For example we live in Blackburn there are some great local parks, we are close to the beautiful beaches of Lytham, Formby and woodlands such as Gisburn Forest, nature reserves such as Brockholes are all nearby and perfect for day trips.
There are great organisations out there too who are always promoting outdoor activities such as the Forestry Commission and the woodland trust, both these sites are great in providing access to families of the nearest woodland areas to them and promoting a number of events in local areas. Going for a walk in the woods is fantastic as there are so many things to look at, listen for and learn about. One of my favourite activities is to take the Gruffalo and read it to my little adventurers in the woods. The look of awe that they get when we read it there is fantastic, it truly makes the experience magical.
One of my favourite resources is the fantastic website the nature detectives who are part of the Woodland Trust. They have collated such a fantastic resource that you can download to get your outings that little bit more fun and imaginative. They have tons and tons of ideas for all types of weather conditions, seasons etc. You will never be short of ideas again. We use them for mini beast hunts, making a diary when we have stayed in log cabins in the woods. Honestly, the amount of information on that site is staggering.
Best outdoor play areas in your area
Netmums did a fantastic survey for the best free parks/playgrounds/outdoor areas across the country. It is always fantastic to try a new one and often we are more likely to explore these further (i.e. all the surrounding areas) when compared to our local, most frequented park where the children know and run straight for the playground. Here is the link to the best outdoor play areas as voted by Netmum users. We have been trying as many different ones as we can and can vouch that they are some great ones on there!
If you are in the North West, fiveadventurers do a weekly roundup of family things to do in the area and we try where possible to have the activities that are outdoors. So follow along on facebook/twitter to see when these are posted.
It seems I am not the only one who is concerned about this. Over the last few days I have read a number of articles about the need to get our children outside and having the chance to explore the great outdoors. From the article I read on Active for Life, they have suggested the following and I have added some little notes to enhance them
- Make frequent trips to the playground and parks and let your kids take risks (we have been encouraging our adventurers to climb trees)
- visit farms, forest and ravines where kids can explore nature (and let them get a little hands on, touch frogs, learn the names of mini beats and learn some facts)
- Become a play angel so that you kids will have a safe environment for kid led play (definitely going to do this one!)
We are going to have a weekly outdoor activity throughout the summer months and I am going to tweet #KidsOutdoors with these. We hope that you will follow along to see where we have been and what we have been getting up to. Also tag #KidsOutdoors and @fiveadventurers to any of your posts/tweets/facebook updates to get involved in this too.
I think as a community we need to really address this issue and actively get our children away from screens (whether TV, laptop, iPads) and outdoors. Its by doing small changes will the bigger changes in society be noticed!