10 Benefits of Getting Your Family Outdoors (and How to Make it Easy!)
It gives you a parenting breather
Parenting is a tough gig as it is, without only having the same 4 walls around you. Getting your family outdoors allows you to take a breather and allow the environment to give you something else to think about! The world around you can be a muse for new conversations, ideas, and just different stimuli for your grown-up brain to take in and stop you going stir-crazy.
It boosts their crucial Vitamin D intake
Vitamin D is a nutrient produced when the sun’s UVB rays hit cholesterol in our skin cells. It helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body and keeps bones, teeth, and muscles healthy, which means getting outdoors and being exposed (safely) to sunlight, is important to our overall health.
It improves mental health
Spending time outdoors has been proven to help with mental health issues including anxiety and depression. One of the reasons is that fresh air helps you take in plenty of oxygen, and more oxygen reaching your brain is great for mental health. Plus, there’s the grounding quality of being in nature and the way your senses are activated… The feel of the breeze, the smell of freshly cut grass, the sounds of the city…
It helps with language development
With more to see, there’s more to talk about outdoors! It’s the perfect place for our kids to expand their vocabulary and strengthen their language development as they chat about their outdoors experiences.
It expands their minds
Out of the house your child gets to see the different ways the world works. They’ll get a better understanding of the seasons, the different types of nature, animals, the way your city/town works, the different sights and sounds… It’s all brilliant for expanding their minds and helping them think outside of themselves.
It’s a great place to bond
With no work to be done or mess bothering you out of the corner of your eye, being outdoors will help you be more present to your kids. You’re more likely to listen attentively to what they’re saying and have more time to stop and see things from their point of view, aiding connection.
Plus, things like playing together as a family, camping, or having a picnic are great ways to bond together outdoors.
It gives them a sense of freedom
Our kids have been confined indoors more than ever before, which can leave the whole family feeling frustrated. There are often a lot more rules and boundaries in place indoors (don’t run, jump, shout…etc) for safety concerns or fears of disturbing the neighbours! But outdoors children have more space to let off the energy they desperately need to exert and can finally have a sense of freedom. With that freedom comes a sense of empowerment little kids need to thrive and grow into independent adolescents.
It helps them build confidence
With their newfound freedom, there are new skills to be mastered and things to explore outdoors – great for building confidence. Whether it’s learning how to make a daisy chain or realising they can navigate their scooter around the town – being outdoors allows our children to do new things and see how capable they are.
It stimulates their imagination
It’s amazing what our kids can find outdoors if we let them. Cracks to jump over, sticks to pick up, snails to marvel at, trees to climb, puddles to splash in… they’ve got an eye for this stuff! Being outdoors lets our kid’s imaginations go wild and helps them build new creative connections in their brains as they imagine new worlds and come up with fun stories to go alongside their play.
It’s great for their bodies
Kids get to use their bodies fully outdoors. Climbing, running, rolling, stretching, walking… There are lots of different ways to move and challenge themselves, strengthening their physical development at the same time.
So, how do we make it easier to get the kids outdoors and enjoy all these perks?
First, ease up on the pressure. It’s tough getting children outdoors while maintaining your cool, so be kind to yourself. If you’ve been spending a lot of time indoors, take small trips to begin with and don’t fret if it turns out to be more squabbling than tree climbing… that’s life!
Make sure you’re well prepared to keep the grumbles at bay. Plenty of water, snacks, hand gel, plasters… a spare change of clothes for little ones. And then breathe, slow down and try to BE.
If you can avoid the rush when outdoors, this is where the magic will happen – plus it helps those little legs, which we often forget can’t keep up with our grown-up steps! Slowing down your time outdoors will help give your kids time to notice things and give you time to stop and chat about what you see.
Finally, pick your time of day carefully. Try to avoid midday when it will be hottest, and make sure you’re all well fed so you can stop anyone getting hangry!
The more successful, largely calm outdoor adventures you have, the more motivated you’ll be to get outdoors more in the future.
If you enjoyed this blog, you might also like our article: 8 Ways to Engage their Senses Outdoors
Author: Emma Watson is the owner of Little Hotdog Watson
Little Hotdog Watson is a kidswear brand with a difference. We make kids hats unlike any other by combining style + innovation. Our sun hats offer triple protection from UV, Mosquitoes and Overheating, while our winter hats are water resistant, reflective and extra cosy. Take a look at our hats here.