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…

summer
summer2

 

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 National foresthours 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:

50things NT

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.

treeclimbing

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.

Woodland Organisations

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.

Nature Detectives

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!

 

 

Nisbah

I am a traveller, mother and blogger. We love to go on adventures (big and small, near and far) and strive to show our children how amazing and beautiful the world is! I caught the travel bug many moons ago and despite having three little adventurers, I still suffer from "itchy" feet. We love the great outdoors and one another. Come and join the fun :)

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43 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Hi,
    Great article and SO important to get that kind of message out there! I though my Making Tracks series of walking guides that have been specifically written with children in mind might be of interest to you. The idea is the children lead the walks which makes for a fun packed family day out. Would love your feedback on them….or even a review if you are interested. See http://www.walking-books.com/Making-Tracks/

    • nisbah says:

      Hi Mike, great to hear from you! This is a subject close to my heart and I think action needs to be taken, to address this ever increasing problem.
      I would love to review your books, I am always trying to make walks and being outdoors for our kids as fun as possible. Please send me an email on fiveadventurers@gmail.com 🙂

      • Mike says:

        Hi Nisbah,
        Just wondered how you got on with the book I sent you.
        Regards,
        Mike

        • nisbah says:

          Hi Mike! Good to hear from you again. We are away at the moment. We did receive the book and it looks great. We were hoping to do some of the walks in August but our grandma was taken ill so we have spent the most of the holidays in and out of hospitals. We will be doing the walks in September so will do a full review and be in touch then. 🙂

  2. Rebecca U says:

    so important – great post. I like the idea of getting a top 50 list together #letkidsbekids

    • nisbah says:

      Hi Rebecca, thanks for your comments. Glad you enjoyed the article. The 50 things to do before your 11 3/4 is a great initiative by the National Trust. It’s great to work with your children to work your way down the list. 🙂 we would love to hear about your activities if you do anything from the list.

  3. Ali says:

    What a brilliantly written post. It’s true, the stats are shocking. It saddens me the number of children who are missing out on simple, honest childhood fun, like a picnic. We make every effort to turn all computer games and tv off after 9am. X

    • nisbah says:

      Thanks Ali. Glad you enjoyed the article. It really upsets me too. It doesn’t need to be all the time but overlooking simple things in life is happening too often. Things need to change and it needs like minded people to help bring about change 🙂

  4. Carly says:

    Great post, my eldest recently got an Xbox for his birthday and whilst i’m all for computer games and the education side that they can bring, it has meant that he has spent an awful lot of time indoors when he should also be outside. We recently went camping and obviously they have to go outside to play, they had so much fresh air that come bedtime they were out in 5 mins (normally it takes about 30!) I will make more of an effort to get them outside from this experience alone. #letkidsbekids

    • nisbah says:

      Hi Carly, glad you enjoyed the post. My children are the same, there’s too many gadgets for them to play with. That’s why we have tried actively to get them outdoors where possible!

  5. Karen Bell says:

    I couldn’t have put it better. I totally agree and it is shocking that children have never been on a picnic!!
    Such great ideas and tips. I must check out that nature detectives site.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

    • nisbah says:

      Hi Karen, glad you liked the post. It’s a topic very close to my heart and think things need to change and fast. Nature Detectives is great 🙂 let me know which ones you use. There will be lots of posts about outdoor activities on here soon. Thanks for reading!

  6. TheBoyandMe says:

    I couldn’t agree more about needing to get the children outdoors, improves their wellbeing, physical fitness and independence. We’re also NT members, great promotion of outdoor play.

    Nipping over from #LetKidsBeKids

    • nisbah says:

      Hi

      Glad you liked the post and thanks for popping over for a read. The NT are fab and are really trying to connect with families. We’ve still got lots to see and do! How many of the 50 things have you done? #LetKidsBeKids

  7. Jenny says:

    What a fantastic post. I couldn’t agree more. I am one of eight we always had to go play outside. I can still hear my momma shouting it at us. We had boring three channels that never worked anyways. But we didn’t want to sit in and watch tv. We thought it was boring! I can’t believe how many kids just play video games and watching tv all day and evening. Some even into the night. Sad really. I have so many great memories play with the neighbor kids and my siblings. Great post. Fab tips. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

    • nisbah says:

      Hi Jenny
      Really glad you enjoyed the post! It really is awesome growing up in a big family. Love the reminiscing about the tv channels. My hubby always says we have too much choice but our enjoyment levels are so much less!

      It’s one of my missions to really try and promote being outdoors and it’s often easier to keep the kids indoors but we as a community to get out of that frame of mind.

  8. Louise says:

    This is a great post – lots of fab ideas here to help get kids out and about. We try and get out and about as much as we can – there are lots of nice woods and places to walk nearby and I find it also helps if I set myself a list of things to try and do each season – our autumn list includes blackberry picking, jumping in piles of leaves, going for a walk in the rain and splashing in puddles and trying to find some of the Paddington statues which will be appearing around London next month. Will have to check out some of your suggestions to and add some more things to the list 🙂

    • nisbah says:

      Hi Louise

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Try the Nature Detectives link as it has some fantastic resources that you can use for all the seasons! Not sure if you have any of the woods near you where they are having the Gruffalo’s Child trail but that will be a great day out!

  9. Inspiring article and love the tips and ideas. Same reason why we try going out a lot even if its just day trips ans short walks outside =) #pocolo

    • nisbah says:

      Hi Merlinda

      I find it do hard trying to get my chores finished that now I have decided to spend as much of the weekend with the children. Being outdoors means I can give them my unlimited attention without the constant worrying about the things I should be doing. Come Monday they will still be there!

  10. This post is great – and so true. We are so guilty of this in this house. I think I need to get that list from the National Trust. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo 🙂 x

    • nisbah says:

      Hi Victoria

      We are often guilty of it too, but I have tried to make myself more focused on trying to plan things in advance so regardless of the weather we all know that we are going out. The NT 50 things is great and their website is quite interactive for the kids too! 🙂

  11. I totally agree with you – and I think it goes for parents too. It’s tempting to stay at home indoors with the kids (especially as the winter approaches) – and spend the weekends and after school times catching up with housework, chores etc but actually EVERYONE benefits from being outside – parents and kids. At the moment, I’m checking out great places to collect conkers when I’m out running – and then getting the kids to come back with me and collect as many as they can! #ShareWithMe

    • nisbah says:

      Hi Vanessa

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Being outdoors makes me feel so much better. It’s almost as though all the stress is lifted off my shoulders when I’m outside! Conkers are awesome, we are going to collect some this weekend and try and get the kids to have Conker fights like we used to. 🙂 enjoy!

  12. Brilliant post. I grew up in the countryside and I’d hate if my daughter didn’t have the same opportunities to explore, ramble and get her hands dirty as i did. It makes me so sad to see couch potato kids – there’s a whole wolrd out there being ignored.

    I bought The Bumper Book of Nature by Stephen Moss. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bumper-Book-Nature-Stephen-Moss/dp/0224086707 It has lots of ideas for outdoorsy things to do with children. I definitely recommend it. Maria x #SundayStars

    • nisbah says:

      Hi Maria

      Thanks for reading! glad you enjoyed the post. Yeah, we were always outside when we were kids, running, playing and just being busy bees. Its so hard these days as we are so cautious (rightly so) with our kids.

      Will definitely look into those books, they sound fab. 🙂

  13. I’m with you here. Although I struggle taking the twins out on my own, I am such an advocate for doing things with them. During the summer even just popping into the garden to dig a patch of soil was amazing. Kids need to experience and explore and cannot do this in front of the TV all day. However, I must say that winter is more challenging…I’m home quite a bit more, but I am trying to go for little walks and definitely doing something most weekends with Hubby being about. Great post – and hopefully the next generation won’t be too lazy xx

    • nisbah says:

      Hiya

      thanks for reading! glad you enjoyed the post. I’m totally with you as I had 3 children 4 and under. It was hard work. I think people often think that outdoors activities have to be this huge event but even playing in the garden, making daisy chains etc are the things that we have stopped doing! 🙂 We would love to hear about your adventures!

  14. Tracey Egan says:

    Hi – great article and so true. I’m inspired to get my kids out more!

    • nisbah says:

      Hi Tracey,

      Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed the article. The aim was to inspire families to get outdoors more :). We’d love to hear about your adventures!

  15. Steph says:

    Oh what a fab post! I am in total agreement. I love that our two girls have the best of both worlds, and as parents we are extremely keen to get them to love the outdoors. Love the 50 things to do idea – I may have to jump on this one!!! Thanks so much for joining in with #sundaystars xx

    • nisbah says:

      Hi Steph

      Thanks for reading. Glad you enjoyed the post. Its something really close to my heart and its something that needs to change for us to help our children. 50 things to do are great, highly recommended! We would to hear about your adventures! Hope you visit again soon, 🙂

  16. Mrs H says:

    Some of those statistics are quite scary. I agree with everything that you have written. I try to make sure Little Miss H gets outside at some point every day. There are so many benefits to playing outside. Thanks for linking up with last week’s #SundayStars. Hugs Mrs H xxxx

    • nisbah says:

      Hello

      The stats really scared me which is what led me to writing the post. We are from the North and our usual weather is dull and grey and it really worries me that children just don’t get out enough! Totally agree with you, being outdoors has told of mental and physical benefits. thanks for reading 🙂

  17. Honest Mum says:

    Fab post, so important to get the kids active. Please do add my badge or link back. Thanks x

  18. jenny says:

    My husband and I were just talking about all the couch potatoes and how we will make our children go play outside like our own parents made us. They need creativity and fresh air outdoors more than video games which we would never own and staring at a computer all day. Great post. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

    • Nisbah says:

      Hi Jenny

      Thanks for reading, its my biggest thing and I try my best to get my little adventurers outdoors all the time! Like you said they need it for creativity and health reasons to name a few. Many thanks for reading 🙂

  19. Agree! I am such an outdoors and adventure type person, in fact I am better out and about than inside. I am more fun! Great post 🙂 Jess xx

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