Growing up, I would spend most of my time outdoors, whether that was at our local park, riding my bike, going on long walks with friends or climbing trees in the woods, I was at my happiest when both active and out of the house. It was inevitable that I would marry somebody with a similar outlook and having grown up in the countryside, my husband spent a lot of his time in the same way. Having children has meant that we’ve not only loved having the opportunity to go out and find new places to explore but also discovering new ways of entertaining our little ones in our own back garden with the use of messy play, with water play tables, a sandpit, mud kitchen and their very own garden in which they have been learning to grow their own fruit and vegetables.
So, why is outdoor play so important to us?
For us, there is nothing better than the great outdoors. For starters, spending time as a family is incredibly important because there just isn’t enough of it. My husband works long hours, my eldest is now at school and I feel very tied to the house in the week due to my youngest’s nap time. Yes, I do make it outside almost every day as I need to work off his energy on the park play equipment otherwise he would go stir crazy but it certainly isn’t as much as I would like to be able to do. So the weekend becomes our main time to achieve this and it is the only time we get all together.
I have 2 very, very active little boys and the only way to truly wear them out is with a lot of fresh air and a lot of physical activity. If they spent all day indoors or sat in front of the TV they just wouldn’t be fully stimulated. Outdoor playing is something they have both craved from an early age. I quickly realised this with my first and bought 2 annual passes for local attractions that would enable him to be occupied and get us out of the house. Our local country park has been a firm favourite and with a splash park, wooden climbing frames, slides, play areas, a pirate ship, miniature railway, a dinosaur walk, a huge lake and more it has provided us with hours and hours of fun. Over five years on and I still have a pass for this venue and am now reliving all of those days with my second child who has proven to be just as energetic as my first!
But outdoor play isn’t solely about running off some energy. It is a fantastic way for them to learn about nature, to socialise with other children and adults, to master their coordination, to improve on both their gross and fine motor skills, to push themselves to try new things and to also keep fit and healthy.
One thing I really love doing is just sitting back and watching their little minds taking everything in. One of their Christmas presents was a mud kitchen and I knew it would be played with by both of them. I have seen both of my boys play with this in different ways and have loved how their imaginations have unfolded whilst doing so– even the 1-year-old who quickly demonstrated to me that he fully understood that you are supposed to mix things up in a bowl and place it inside the oven, wait a moment and then take it out again. He really surprised me when he started playing like this. Letting your children play with items like these and taking a step back allows them to grow as people. I feel that outdoor play allows this to happen more than indoor play as you can really leave them to have their own space and watch on from inside the house or allow them to run ahead in the woods and just let them discover their surroundings. Freedom to play outside allows freedom for them to look at the world and choose how to play in it.
I think the biggest benefit of being outdoors though is that it is good for the soul. I always feel so much happier, brighter and energised after being out and about and if that also involves laughing with my children then it is even better!
Do you get outdoors enough with your children do you think? I’d love to hear what activities you love to do.
*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
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