We’ve teamed up with Young Soles to share our top tips for encouraging kids to play outside, even during the winter months.
Ask your grandparents what they did for fun growing up and it’s likely their memories of childhood will differ from those of children today. No doubt they spent their time in the fresh air, whereas today, screen time is a dominant feature in modern day playtime. The knock-on effect is that many children, especially those growing up in urban environments, aren’t moving enough. Encouraging kids to play outside and be physically active is easier in summertime, but there is just as much fun to be had outdoors during the colder months. Here, we round up a few guaranteed ways to get them outdoors and active year-round.
ORGANISE A PLAY DATE
Most children will have more fun and be willing to play outside if they’re with other children. Whether it’s with siblings, neighbours, school friends or sports teammates, organise a day out at a local park or let them loose in the garden. You could recruit another parent to help supervise if necessary, and pack a picnic as an additional incentive.
SET A TIMER ON SCREEN TIME
According to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the implications of too much screen time for little ones can include everything from bad sleep to the potential for cyber bullying. Thankfully, there are apps that can monitor how much time is spent online and block the use of certain platforms for a set amount of time. If screen time is affecting sleep, meal times, diet, and exercise, negotiate with your child and make a deal. This might be that the phone is not used at the dinner table or in the bedroom, or before breakfast, or until homework is completed. Having your kids spend less time watching TV or using the computer will naturally encourage them to find other methods of fun.
PREPARE THEM FOR ALL ELEMENTS
There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. In order to enjoy the outdoors during the colder months, appropriate clothing for both you and your children is a must.
Having warm, dry feet should be a priority so you’ll want thick socks and suitable footwear. Find a brand that you can trust for long-wearing, resilient products. Luxury children’s footwear brand, Young Soles uses the highest quality materials to create footwear that is appropriate for all elements and will stand the test of time. They blend retro-cool with classic British heritage styles, acknowledging trends and giving them a unique twist. All shoes are made with natural materials and soft, supple leathers, chosen for first steps and growing feet. Fingerless gloves are a great way to keep hands warm while allowing little fingers to move without frustration, a warm, waterproof coat is a must and a comfortable hat makes all the difference.
Whether it be an evening walk together or involving your children in washing the car, being outdoors yourself is a great way to encourage children to be there too. Bike rides are another fun activity for the whole family, even for those living in urban areas, with most parks offering sufficient, safe bike trails.
Exploration and adventure will entice even the most outdoors-adverse children. Why not use the weekend to explore new areas of your town or city as a family? Create a bucket list of places and activities in your local area and make it your mission to tick it all off.
ALL THE GEAR
Invest in a few tempting toys that will entice kids away from screens and out into the fresh air. Children will have lots of fun with anything on wheels or anything that involves water. A trampoline is a good way to keep children active (keep an eye on them!), but there is a huge variety of play things that are more purse-friendly such as skipping ropes, sports equipment or climbing cleats attached to a tree.
TAKE THE INDOORS OUTDOORS
Invite kids to eat meals, do their homework or take their toys outside to make the ordinary more interesting. Taking the toys that children already enjoy inside – such as blocks and figurines, dress up accessories, playdough and other creative materials – outdoors can encourage them to have fun with them in new ways.
BROADEN THE HORIZON
Take time to explore a range of outdoor environments. Think beyond your own garden or local park when it comes to encouraging children to get outside. Depending on where you live, a visit to the beach, a river, a botanical garden, a nature reserve or even a farm will provide your children with more of the great outdoors to explore.
MAKE IT HABITUAL
You might like to try instituting a set time each day when the kids are outside and make it a habit. This could be as simple as walking home from school everyday, or half an hour in the park when the school day is done.