Devolve to Evolve

Here is powerful tool that is thousands of years old. What I’m about to share with you is a parenting tool that is tried and tested. Your parents would approve and so would your grandparents. This tool is the simple act of getting your kids to spend more time outdoors.

It sounds so easy, but if you’re parenting children or teenagers today, you know the struggle is real. It’s hard to get kids outside! They’d rather be inside sitting passively, entertained by technology. And I can totally relate to wanting to keep kids safely indoors. You can’t be outside with them all the time. You have work to do and meals to make.

And yet, the facts speak for themselves. Being outdoors is good for kids. In fact, it’s good for everyone!

The Stats

When we want to know how many minutes a day the average American child spends outside in unorganized play, the studies don’t give us a consistent answer. Some say four minutes, others say up to 30 minutes. The bottom line – not enough.

But what they do agree on is that the average child spends between six and seven hours a day in front of a screen. Every day, seven days a week. This includes all electronic screens. This is astonishing!

Why should we care anyway? I’m glad you asked.

The Benefits of the Great Outdoors

We know for a fact that children who spend more time outside are happier and do better in school than kids who spend most of their time indoors. And the more time they’re not inside, the better they do when they’re inside at school.

Being in nature has so many advantages for children and adults. It reduces feelings of stress and fatigue. In boosts our immune system and helps us fight disease. It even improves our children’s vision by reducing their risk of becoming near sighted.

Children might argue that video games help them multi-task. However, it has been proven that being outdoors stimulates more of our senses than sitting in front of a screen playing games. And the outdoor sensory stimulation is the best kind for our brains.

The Good Old Days

I don’t know about you, but I love to tell my kids stories about the “good ole days”. What was life like before we had cell phones and computers? I remember that! And it wasn’t all bad!

I remember riding my bike around the neighborhood with a baseball card stuck in the spokes to make it sound like a motorcycle.

I remember climbing trees and building tree houses with my neighbors.

I remember spending hours staring at the sky, seeing different shapes of clouds during the day and watching for shooting stars at night.

I remember running in the sprinkler in the summer and building snow forts in the winter.

Some of my best memories of childhood were spent outside. If you agree with me, take your child outside and introduce them to some of the fun things you used to do!

Recipe for Tool #21:

Ingredients:

  • a wise parent,
  • an unsuspecting child who is gonna benefit from being outdoors
  • maybe a locked safe to ‘quarantine’ the screens

Step 1 – Plan It!

Most kids whine and complain when you take away their electronics and push them out the door. Well, let’s change that! Plan a fun excursion or activity to do with your child. Go for a bike ride as a family, explore your neighborhood as a tourist, or plan a scavenger hunt. Build a treehouse, run in the sprinkler, get a trampoline. In the winter, go tobogganing, ice skating, and make snow angels. Get outside and have fun!

Step 2 – Turn Your Phone Off

Set a good example for your child and turn off your phone. Vow to not look at it once unless you’re capturing memories by taking pictures. Get your child to hold you accountable – you know they will!

Step 3 – Repeat Consistently

The more time we spend outdoors, the more benefits we can all gain. We’ll be happier, focus better, reduce our stress, and energize ourselves. We’ll be healthier, and have an easier time maintaining our weight. Plus, we’ll be creating priceless memories with our kids. I’d much rather have my child remember the time we ran in the warm, summer rain over the evening we stayed inside and watched that movie…what was the name of it again?

Now that you clearly know the many benefits of spending time outdoors, what will you do? I strongly encourage you to get outside more with your kids. Plan some fun activities or adventures to create lifetime memories with your family and before long, your kids will be dragging you out of the house!

HB

HB is a roller coaster father, one minute he is ecstatic about his children, the next he wonders if life will ever get any better. A long standing member of the 'I yell at my kids' club, he writes with passion and an analytical mind. Dissecting and separating the nuanced strategies that make a good parent great. He experiments with parenting techniques on his 3 year old so you don't have to.

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