In this digital age, maintaining a strong connection with your family can be a challenging feat… Especially when you have to compete for your children’s attention with all the visually stimulating, engaging games and TV shows that are constantly on offer on their screens.
Concerns about our kids not spending time outdoors enough have become so widespread that they’ve even coined a phrase for it: Nature Deficit Disorder. We already know as adults how immensely our overall happiness and wellbeing will benefit every time we go outside to feel the grass beneath our toes and the sun’s rays smiling on our faces, so it’s more important than ever in these modern times that we share the discovery of those benefits with our kids.
Somewhere along the line, today’s generation of kids started missing out on the growth opportunities we were afforded back in simpler times, when we were young and didn't have such accessible technology at our fingertips 24/7. Children started exhibiting the constant need for stimulation and entertainment, and stopped having meaningful conversations with their parents and siblings. They no longer needed to rely on their own resourcefulness and imaginations to learn the beauty of the world through exciting discoveries, as nowadays everything they could possibly want to know about is presented for them at the click of a button.
While this modern age has given us access to an unfathomable amount of incredible information... It can sometimes stand in the way of real human connections, good mental health, and a vibrantly resilient body we enjoy with plenty of exercise and fresh air.
Recent studies have revealed a plethora of health and wellbeing advantages to spending time outdoors, for both kids and adults alike. So what are the benefits of outdoor play?
- Amps Up Your Family’s Vitamin D Levels- Getting out in the sun is the most natural and effective way to get sufficient Vitamin D! Shoot for 10-30 minutes of time outside in the sunlight several times per week to ensure you and your kids are getting enough sun to allow your bodies to absorb the calcium it needs. This is especially important for kids’ growing bodies so they can form healthy muscles, bones and teeth.
- Gets Kids Moving- Getting up off the couch and outdoors burns calories, creates more energy and boosts serotonin levels. The more time they’re outdoors, the more opportunities they’ll have to run, jump and explore, getting their blood moving and their spirits lifted.
- Sparks Imagination and Creativity- The freeform nature of play outdoors encourages kids to become inventive with activities, and develop creative ways to interact with their environment.
- Self-Esteem and Confidence Building- Empower your children by allowing them to take the reins and decide what to do next. Letting kids interact with nature in their own way builds their confidence, as they get to see the cause and effect of their decisions and actions. They’ll have an easier time making friends, and feel less lonely and isolated when you’re out exploring as a family, practicing social interactions together.
- Engages Them With Varied Stimulation- The tactile experiences found in nature stimulate your kids on several levels, enriching their human experience. While spending time sitting in front of the TV or a game will only stimulate them on a visual and auditory level, when they spend time outdoors will activate their senses of touch, smell, and taste too- if you can forage while you’re out and about!
- Reduces Anxiety and Encourages Calmness- Depression and anxiety in kids and teens has been linked to excessive screen time, and a feeling of disconnectedness with other humans. Unplugging from the computer or TV and getting outdoors in nature together is soothing and allows overstimulated minds to have thoughts flowing freely, without the distractions of digital media pulling and manipulating their attention.
- Nurtures a Sense of Wonder and Curiosity- Discovering beautiful surprises in nature with your kids gives you a unique opportunity to teach your family about our impact on the world. Witnessing the majesty of nature prompts our kids to think constructively about how the earth works and supports life. It’ll make them conscious of the delicate nature of all living things, helping to guide them in learning how to treating living beings with consideration. When they watch you treading carefully and leaving no trace, you'll inspire them to become more gentle, loving individuals with a sense of purpose and responsibility.
Spending time in nature with your family is a great way to strengthen your family bond in a fun setting, and will establish healthy habits in your kids’ routines that they'll carry through into their adult years.
As parents, we get the privilege and responsibility of setting a great example for our children, and to teach them how great we can feel when we’re fit, healthy and connected both to nature and the important people in our lives!
When our kids see us letting our hair down and enjoying the lighter side of life while we're hanging out with them in nature, they'll recognize that even as an adult, keeping a fun and happy perspective on life is completely possible through your guiding light and example.
Don't let these precious opportunities to get outside together as a family fall by the wayside, and you’ll all be benefitting from the joys of the great outdoors!
P.S. Don't forget to keep the family hydrated while you're out on adventures together! Little hands will love toting along their very own water bottle, so let your smallest family members choose their favorite color from the rainbow of options and grab their very own Greens Steel Kids Water Bottle.
See you all out there in the great outdoors with your beautiful fam!
Fefe | Greens Steel Author