Playing outside is great for your kids, but children don’t get out as much as they used to in today’s modern culture. We have video games, the internet, computers, iPads and laptops, cell phones, air conditioning, and other modern comforts that can make the indoors seem a lot more appealing.
How can you get your kids to play outdoors this summer?
Be a Good Example
First and foremost, you should always be a good example. Your kids will do what you do more than what you say. So, if you’re constantly telling them to go outside and play but never step foot outside yourself, you can bet they will copy your behavior.
Find some outside activities that you enjoy yourself, like gardening or golfing, or reading on the patio – whatever you like to do, and let them see you practicing what you preach. You can also go outside with younger children and do your interests while supervising them doing theirs.
Play with Them
This goes along with the first tip of being a good example, but it’s also essential you take some time to play with them. Kids, especially those who have not been taught to play outside more, will often need a little guidance and leadership to show them what fun it can be.
And most kids, even teens, genuinely enjoy spending time with their parents (even if they act like they don’t). Getting out on the lawn and tossing a football around, playing basketball in the driveway, or taking toddler toys outside and sitting down to play with younger children are all ways of playing with them and setting that standard that the outdoors can be a great place to be.
Sign them Up for a Club
Another great way to get your kids outside this summer is to sign them up for a summer club or team. There are usually many sporting activities happening during the summer, but if that’s not in your kids’ interest, you can look for other teams or clubs like collecting, bird-watching, etc. Check with your school district, local YMCA, church groups, and the local community center for options.
Invest in Outdoor Play Equipment
The biggest excuse you will probably hear from your children who don’t want to play outside is that it’s boring. It can pay for itself again and again if you invest in outdoor play equipment. A swing set, trampoline, playhouse, outdoor playset, volleyball net, basketball goal, swimming pool, and other water toys are just a few examples.
Plant and Maintain a Garden Together
Another way to enjoy more time outside is to plant and maintain a garden together. Let your kids help, and they will be more personally motivated to check in and tend to the garden themselves. The same can be said for other landscaping or gardening tasks that your kid is old enough to do.
Permit them to Get Dirty
Another important reminder is to give them permission to get dirty. If you tell your child to go outside and play and then complain that they get dirty or their clothes get muddy, you’re going to discourage them from wanting to let loose and have that kind of fun again in the future. You can always clean dirt and messes up.
Arrange a Playdate
Kids will also be more motivated to play outside when they have company. You could call a friend, arrange a playdate, or allow the neighbor kids to come over and play with yours. Kids will almost always play more when they have someone else to enjoy with them.
Get them a Fitness Tracker
Fitness trackers and pedometers are much easier to get these days than ever before. They’re affordable, and many are made for kids. And most kids love to track stats. It can feel like a game to watch their step count go up and up. If you want them to spend more time outside this summer, a fitness tracker could be just the motivation they need.
At the end of the day, if you want your kids to play outdoors, you need to appeal to their motivation factors and not your own. Know what makes them tick, and what they find fun, and encourage that and help facilitate that. It will go much more smoothly than just trying to order them outside.