Inside: Want your kids to be outside this summer? Here are some ways to make awesome memories outside with your toddler this summer.
I am a big fan of the Great Outdoors.
When I was little – as an only child – my mom would shoo me outside to play. Let’s say… that’s when my imagination was birthed and I am never a bored adult.
Initially kids may be resistant to outdoor play (especially if they’re screen dependent), but they will get into the swing of it.
Being outside is good for so many things and there are numerous books coming out in recent years stating the benefits of nature for children.
Outdoor Summer Tips To Live By
Even if you don’t have the luxury of a big private backyard, don’t let that stop you from giving your kids the gift of being outside.
1. Don’t make it optional.
This will be a preference among families, but I don’t consider outside time optional. With the prevalence of screens, TVs, movies, games, etc. it almost seems that our generation is losing the desire to even be outside.
Now we have a big yard, but even when our back “yard” was the size of a 7-seater SUV, we still had the kids play outside each day.
If it becomes a normal part of their daily routine they’ll look forward to it.
Even “indoor kids.”
2. Get the right gear.
We are a very in/out type of house so I always want to make sure that we have outdoor clothes on hand.
- At the back door we have a big rack of shoes. This is for mud boots and flip flops.
- Have certain clothes that are “house clothes” and fine for getting dirty. If you are worried they will stain their clothes then neither you nor your child will enjoy being outside.
- Keep hats and sunglasses available for kids. My kids will be outside longer if their eyes are shielded somewhat.
3. Consider the time of day.
In hotter places (like here in Florida) it’s best to avoid being outside midday unless you’re swimming.
We go in and out all day long, but for their outdoor play times (when they have to stay outside until I say they can come in) we try to do this first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon. If you do go outside in the heat of the day, make water readily available.
- Start an early morning (or late afternoon) walking tradition.
- Try to keep a similar routine daily so the kids know what to expect and don’t fight it.
- Invite over friends or neighbors.
- Get a comfy chair and a book and relax a bit as they play.
4. Get rid of obstacles.
Go around the yard and get rid of ant beds, weird places that snakes might hide, or old abandoned yard projects like broken or cracked tiles, boards with nails, etc.
How country did I just sound saying all that?
I’m not saying “child proof” the great outdoors itself, but make the yard or play area free so you don’t have to stress. Basically, try to make sure that you can relax while the kids play outside.
5. Get outdoor “stuff.”
I personally think kids should use their imaginations and just get on with it. That said, a big blank square of grass might need a little help.
It could be shovels, a pile of dirt (or, you know, an actual sandbox), trucks, swings, trampolines, or whatever your kids like.
We actually bought a few big bouncy balls and some basic sandbox utensils and the kids will play outside for long periods of time happily until one starts pouring dirt over the other one’s head… but that’s neither here nor there.
Balanced And Barefoot suggests getting some supplies and tools children can build with. Logs, 2 x 4s, tarps, rope, cement blocks, etc. If your yard permits, this is a great way to allow your children to get lost in games and imagination for hours.
I like to buy a slew of sunscreen at the beginning of the season and keep it in a special clear bag. This goes with me to the beach, pool, park, or anywhere else I may need to apply sunscreen.
I recommend zinc oxide as its the least toxic and it creates a barrier instead of being soaked in. This is what keeps kids from getting burned.
Another way to get the kids outside is for them to help you garden.
In our last home we had long grapevines (which didn’t require an upkeep except a big trim in the winter), fruit trees, a blueberry bush, and some tomato plants.
We really only needed to water the tomato plants and fruit trees when it hadn’t rained, but the kids enjoyed it.
Whether it’s trimming hedges, watering plants, or even just picking up sticks, limbs, or weeds… getting outside is good for the kids.
8. Kid-friendly bug spray.
I have one child who is a mosquito magnet.
We often roast s’mores over our fire pit, and everyone will come inside afterwards with no bites, and she will come in with 15 bites.
I used to attempt DIY mosquito repellant, but now there are a lot of DEET free brands safe for kids. Keep this in your sunscreen bag and you’ll be set.
Let’s just get outdoors.
The more the kids do it, the more they’ll love it.