Updated: Jun 30
For kids today, the pull of smart phones, video games, and TV can be addictive. Kids would rather spend hours staring at a screen than doing anything physically active. According to the CDC, kids between the ages of 8 to 18 spend an average of 6-9 hours per day looking at screens. They recommend kids spend at least 60 minutes per day doing something physically active. Below are 4 ways I have seen work at getting kids outside and actually enjoying themselves.
If your child is constantly glued to a screen, the first step is to reduce the availability of screens in your home. This means remove TVs from bedrooms, have dinner around the table rather than the TV, and set time limits for when and how long kids can be on their devices. If you need help with this step, check out my previous article that explains How To Take Screens Away Without A Meltdown. If you've already done this step, come back here for what to do next.
Play With Your Kids
The first step is to lead by example. I can almost guarantee that if your kids spend too much time on screens, you probably do too. I myself am guilty of over indulging as well! Playing outside with your kids doesn't have to be a wild adventure. It can be something as simple as playing catch or walking the dog. Use this time to catch up with your kids about how things are going in their lives, and make it fun rather than a chore.
Find A New Toy
Sometimes all a kid needs is a push in the right direction. I've seen many Pinterest post where parents create elaborate yard mazes or put together fancy STEM kits for their kids to play with. Kids are naturally creative and curious, so you don't need to spend a lot of time or money to get them going. Take a trip to the Dollar Tree and have your kids pick out one item. The only rule is that they can only play with it outside. The Dollar Tree has tons of great outdoor toys, such as sidewalk chalk, kites, balls, jump ropes, and more.
Go To a New Place
Whenever I want to find a new place to explore, I usually hop onto Google Maps and search "park." Try this, and you will likely be amazed at how many parks lie undiscovered in your city. Have your kids help you decide which park to travel to, and on the way have them guess what kinds of things they will find there. When you arrive, challenge them to find 5 new things they've never seen before.
Look at Nature with New Eyes
Our brains naturally find joy in placing things into categories. Kids especially love doing this, and it can be good for cognitive development. Find a spot in nature where you can explore around. This can be in your backyard or a forest - anywhere outside. You don't need a fancy scavenger hunt. Grab a sheet of paper and make a list: something blue, something shiny, something rough, etc. As you find each one, check it off your list. Note: If you are in a state or national park, please do not collect any items.
Click below to download my Beach Scavenger Hunt for the summer: