Are Your Kids Getting Enough Time Outside? Mine Finally Are!

BlogHer Original Post

We’ve been settling into our new house and neighborhood for the past few weeks. It’s been a lovely change, if a little hectic. We’re almost 100% unpacked. We’ve painted -- a lot -- since we closed on the house and it’s looking pretty good. There’s still a lot of work, the personalization kind, left to be done, but you’ll just have to excuse us because we’re too busy playing outside, unlike half of America's preschool aged children, to think about it right now.

You see, we didn’t get to play outside a lot in our old “neighborhood,” a word I use lightly. Despite being a private, dead end street, the flow of traffic in and out from the local drug dealer’s house was pretty heavy. I couldn’t just tell the boys, “Go outside! Get fresh air! Run and play!,” because I was afraid they would be in danger. It wasn’t even my over-protective parenting ruining my kids’ outdoor time; it was a safety precaution that even my husband believed in. I knew they needed more time outside, but it was hard.

Our new neighborhood is much different, which is obviously one reason why we chose this house. In addition to a lot of new space inside, we have this whole world of outside to play, jump, shoot basketballs, kick soccer balls, hit t-balls, ride bikes, climb trees, dance, fight with light sabers and generally be outside. I can’t begin to tell you how much all four of us have been enjoying this new freedom.

New House

We used to take the boys’ bicycle and tricycle to the local park to give them riding time, but they never had great pedaling skills as they didn’t get to use them more than once every week or so. Now? They zoom all over the driveway and yard on the bike, the trike, the tractor and anything else they can find with wheels. They fight with the big Nerf sword and axe that my brother -- the one without kids who will someday “get his” -- bought for them that we never got to use because we didn’t have the space. They play in their playhouse. They run and run and run and run. They play with other kids from the neighborhood who just magically show up in our yard. I'd say that they fight less, and they do as there are less "things" to fight over outside, but they also argue over who gets the blue light saber and who gets to hang from which branch of the pear tree.

Adorbs

It’s phenomenal.

Even more fantastic? At bedtime? They’re so exhausted, they go right to sleep without 15 requests for water or another kiss or a hug or something about monsters. Right to sleep! And to be honest, I kind of collapse at bedtime too -- between the fresh air, my workday and the putting together of a house.

We had always tried to “get outside” as much as possible before: we took walks away from our street, went to the playground, went to the local state park, went fishing and on and on and on. Now that we can also just simply go outside and safely play, it’s as if we have a whole new family, not just a whole new house.

Being outside is great for kids, and as the weather is warming up, lots of other bloggers are talking about the benefits of going outside.

Dr. Mom recently wrote about a vacation she took to Yosemite with her family. She loved that the kids didn’t whine or say “don’t touch me” when they were outside playing. (We’re still, uh, working on that one apparently.)

Dr. Stephanie pointed out that preschoolers should be getting 60 minutes of outdoor time per day and gave some ideas for outside play. Are your kids getting that much time?

Caroline at Salsa Pie shared a fantastic list of things to do outside with kids. If you think that fort doesn’t look fun, there’s something wrong with you! I want to play in it right now!

What about you and your kiddos? Are you getting enough time outside? Are they happier, sleepier kids when they’ve been playing outside? What are your favorite things to do outside?

 

Family Section Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. She is an editor, writer and photographer.

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