The new generations of children are much more tech-savvy than we, their parents, are. Contrary to you and me, the kids of today are growing surrounded by technology from their younger age. Everywhere they look, there is a digital device that is connected to the Internet: Smartphones, game consoles, some kitchen appliances, etc. While this makes them good at multitasking and a lot more resilient to pressure (if you have played any of the current video games on the market, you know exactly what I mean), these high-tech activities are estranging your kids from you. It’s time to react and to build a robust and healthy bond with your kids far from their tech interest. Here are a few tips to convince your children that they can have fun even when they are outside.
Why Aren’t Kids Playing Outside Anymore?
This is a tricky question. I remember fondly growing up in the 1980s and spending most of my free time riding my bike outside. Being outside was for me a symbol of freedom, and fun naturally, as I could ride wherever I needed to go. Thankfully, Netflix latest blockbuster, Stranger Things, that plays in the 1980s might have just been enough to encourage some kids to buy a bike and ride through town.
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So why don’t we see as many kids outside as we used to? The world has changed for a start. There are more cars, and they are much faster. The roads aren’t safe anymore. But the way kids interact with each other has evolved too. A snapchat replaces a face-to-face conversation. They don’t need to see each other to exchange, ergo they don’t even need to leave their room to be connected to their friends. As parents don’t usually belong to their cyber network, it is essential to encourage outside activities and build a bond with your kids.
Organize A Garden Party
It may sound a little silly but stick with me: Your garden is an easy concession for kids. As a first step outside, this one is one that compromises between their needs to keep in touch with their cyber network and being outside with you. Plan the food and the drinks thoroughly so that there is no need to go back inside the house for a little nibble.
But don’t turn the garden party into a family lunch. It’s not called a garden party by chance: Its core purpose is to entertain, and that means getting your outside games sorted. Cornhole games are always a favorite, so make sure that you have some exciting new cornhole wraps to refresh your old set. There’s nothing worse than a dull looking game to kill the party mood! Which game you pick doesn’t matter: It’s creating fun outside memories with your kids that matters.
Finally, plan all games in teams. This will help you to develop a stronger bond with your children as you play together as one to win. Why not prepare a little reward for the winning team? This can simply be a pair of cupcakes or a supersized ice cream. There is no need for medals because everyone’s a winner when you have fun together as a family.
Plan A Weekly Walk Together
If you are keen to establish a trust relationship with your kids, and as I am sure that every parent is, I find that a walk together in a park or a forest is a good way of detaching ourselves from everyday life and coming together. Often the peacefulness of Mother Nature encourages confidences, yet this is something that you will have to develop with your kid. It takes time to reach a level where one can be fully honest without being afraid of a parent’s judgment.
One to two hours is an optimal time for a walking path outside where you can make the best of it by enjoying nature together. Bonus points if you know your plants and your birds, so make sure to do your research before you go!
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You will find that this little walk can become your privileged time together, a moment of the week where time stops, and you can enjoy each other’s company. Don’t miss out on it: kids grow up so fast!
Be An Outside Model
The first thing one learns about being a parent is that it is better to show than to tell. What does it mean here? It means that if your kids are used to see you sitting in front of the TV instead of going outside, they will find it difficult to believe that the world outside is as exciting as you say. Changing your kids habits starts by changing yours. Relax. I’m not asking you to build a hut in the garden and spend the night in there. But a few simple and effective changes will go a long way.
First of all, try as much as possible to leave the car for short distances. If it is under a mile, or even two miles if you are feeling up for it, then just walk. Not only will this gradually push your kids to go outside more often and even plan their trips outside, but your legs and your back will thank you for it!
Then add easy gestures: Take care of your garden every day, take the dog out for a walk, have a little jog in town during the week, etc. Remember that if you don’t go outside, why should they? The best way to convince them to leave their room and go in the sun more often is to do it yourself too.
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We are all guilty of turning into a civilization of people who live only inside. So every little step you take outside, you do it for you and your kids. It is important in our hectic lives to keep in touch with the world around us. So open the door and go outside with your children!