Author: Cindi Lou Grant
Unfortunately, there are no more natural areas of our world that have not been impacted by humanity. We have changed our climate. The human touch stretches to every corner of the earth and every single thing on it.
Nature was once defined as “other than human” environments in their pure, “untainted” states. Well, if that doesn’t exist anymore, is there no more nature? I love this question.
Environmental writer Emma Marris has traveled the globe and done some fascinating work to help us see that not only is nature abundant, nature is everywhere! Being in nature doesn’t require vast expanses of wilderness and massive travel logistics. Nature can be found in every unattended patch of plants, even in major cities.
Pictured: Gear List Tee , Logo Tee & Go Big Tee
This message resonates with our mission here at Sawyer. We want to see kids playing in this world, for it to be an integral part of their lives. We think nature is accessible by simply walking out your door. Making it a daily part of our lives may feel overwhelming for a parent who is already so busy. But, getting your kids to spend more time in nature should not have to be a burden on you. In fact, it could be a major benefit to your life as well enhancing your day to day experience.
Here are 6 simple ways to get your kids playing outside that you may even stand to benefit from personally.
1. Make outside time a part of your routine
If you want to create a different result, you have to try a different way. Small daily habits in your routine are the key to making a lasting change.
Picture: Rose Erkul
Kids want to do what they see their parents and friends doing. When you change and make outside time a daily experience, they will want to play outside too. It doesn’t need to take up a serious amount of your day. Even designating 15-30 minutes in that time between returning home and sitting on the couch will do.
2. Take the dog for a walk
Need accountability for your new nature habit? A dog will give you real-time feedback in the form of chewed shoes when you fall back on your commitment to outside time.
Pictured: Lake Blanch Tee
One of the most sure-fire ways that worked for me in making nature a part of my daily routine was my doggie. I love to go outside on a walk with him every day. It only takes about 20 minutes and I usually do it in the evening around sunset. He is a constant reminder, always asking for a walk. He loves to get outside, and having a dog, if you don’t already, may just do that for you and your kids.
3. Bubbles and Chalk
Because who wouldn't want to play with these timeless toys? Exactly, so use them as an excuse to spend a little time in the sunshine.
Picture: Dawid Zawila
This sneaky little trick gets kids of all ages to play outside, even in the smallest outdoor spaces. From bubble guns to bubble wands, almost anyone can have fun with bubbles. Does your kid have a creative side? Cool! Sidewalk chalk is another sneaky trick because you have to go outside to use it. Watch as your kids become mesmerized by this simplest of toys and if not, it's nap time. Side Note: I personally believe nap time stands to benefit people of all ages :)
4. Outdoor chores
Every kid reading this is saying "SHHH" in their heads....
Picture: Jessica Mae
My parents always had me weeding the garden, washing the car and mowing the lawn, and I was a lot more likely to complete these chores when I was “helping them.” Again, kids emulate what they see you and their friends doing. If you are outside doing the “boring stuff” with them, they will be more motivated to get off the couch. Who knows, maybe all that fresh air will lead to their self-motivation to get into nature.
5. Sleep under the stars
Throw down some rugs, pillows, and blankets. It's about to get cozy outside.
Picture: Ideal Home
Camping is an awesome way to get outside. However, does that almost sound stressful? Packing and planning everything that goes on a camping trip… Well, backyard camping is extremely fun and beneficial. You already have everything you need and still get to enjoy the stars and fresh air. Set up a tent, hammock, or pillow fort in the backyard and let your children spend the night out there. They will get excited with the sense of freedom and fun that comes from it. If even that doesn’t sound like a good option, maybe try out a backyard movie? It’s like a drive-in movie in your own backyard!
6. Keep a nature journal
It's like an ongoing scavenger hunt. Kids are always looking for cool things to put in them.
Encourage the observation of nature through a nature journal. There is so much to make note of and collect. Sketch cloudscapes, note how a tree changes, glue their favorite flowers, notice where the sun or moon rises and sets each day, and make leaf rubbings. If they get excited about keeping this journal, it becomes an excuse for them to spend time in nature and could become a hands-on learning experience too.
No matter how you choose to do it or what excuse you use, getting into nature daily will set an example for your kids. Not only will this benefit the quality of their lives, it could instill an unshakable appreciation for the natural world in them. As Emma Marris points out in her Ted Talk, we need them to tap into that appreciation. Without it, why would they care to preserve it?