Planning activities to entertain a child/ren can be challenging when UK weather is so inconsistent. We had a play date the other week and it was one of those grey rainy summer days and we didn’t know what to do. Soft-play on a rainy day during school holidays is not the most appealing option. We decided to go to the local ice-cream farm. The children didn’t just love the ice-cream, but paddling in the puddles were a big hit too. Actually, my son decided paddling wasn’t enough and decided to attempt a swim. (photo above)
This made me think about the benefits of spending family time outdoors or in nature; (video at bottom of page)
Entertaining children can add up especially if you have more than one child. The best thing about spending time outdoors is giving children the freedom to run, jump, explore and burn off all their excess energy for free. Lets be honest, children don’t care if it is sunny, raining, cloudy or snowing. They just make the most of it.
Everyone tends to feel better after exercise. Research has shown that doing exercise releases feel good hormones and a host of physical health benefits. I always feel better when I go out for a walk. Being active as a family will help to normalise exercise as a way of life to our children. Hopefully role modelling exercise will help them to sustain a healthy lifestyle as they grow older.
3-Clears your mind
Life isn’t always ‘abc’. Taking yourself out for a walk can help to put things in to perspective. Research studies have shown going out walking in nature can be a good way to de-stress. Children absorb emotions positive and negative even if we try to hide the difficult times from them. Demonstrating healthy ways to deal with difficult days can be a good foundation to teach our children how to cope with them.
Being in nature blossoms the imagination and we can often play games that rekindle our own childhood. Stone skimming, racing each other, throwing leaves into a stream to watch them go under a bridge, going on a bear hunt or even building a tree house are some of the activities the outdoors provides. Being outdoors seems to blossom a child’s creative play and imagination.
Children learn so much for being out walking and amongst nature. My son learnt his colours from beautiful flowers that drew his attention or exploring if things sink or float in the pond or lake. What will happen if I do this or that, or learning numbers by counting steps, stones or ducks. Being exposed to nature can build their interest in wildlife or insects; what does a spider catch in their web? They are learning without even realising it.
6-See other people
Being around people enjoying the outdoor gives off a positive energy that is contagious. Spending time at home with our child/ren is a total blessing but it can also get lonely. Getting outside and having contact with other people can help us emotionally and not feel alone.
7-Away from the mobile and tv
Being at home can be a technology haven, those being: tv , mobiles and laptops. My child often wants to play with my phone or I can find myself using it too much. Going out for a walk can help us live in the moment, get less distracted and recharge.
8-Good for your immune system
Some studies have concluded that walking amongst trees and plants help our immune systems. A Japanese study concluded that the essential oils mainly known as phytoncide found in plants, woods, and trees excrete it to protect themselves from germs. Inhaling phytoncide appears to improve our immune system function. Take me to the forest!
9-A shared interest
Going out for a family walking instills good habits to our children. It is something enjoyable that everyone can do together despite age and other interests. It can be something that can be done regularly even when we get older to really share time together and reconnect. If you are a dog loving family like us, then the dog can come too.
10-Appreciate what is on our doorstep
It is so easy to let the stunning places on our doorstep go unnoticed. I know I have been guilty at times to take them for granted. Exploring what is on our doorstep can restore the appreciation and value for what we have and often see it with fresh eyes.
11-Appreciate the simple things in life
Being outdoors amongst nature can help us appreciate the simply things in life. Work, social media and growing to-do lists can surround us with materialistic values and make us distracted from things that aren’t always important. Being outdoors grants us time to see things that we often miss when we are rushing around. It can help to slow down time to reflect, appreciate and be grateful for what we have rather than not have.
12- Creates the childhood memories they will cherish for years to come
Being outside with our children gives us all the quality time together with minimal distraction. Helps us all feel relaxed and creative with our play. All these wonderful interactions positively impact on child brain development and create memories that will be cherished forever. All my happy memories tend to be outdoors adventures, like horse riding, making a den, climbing a tree, exploring the outdoors, camping, playing a family game of rounders and going to the beach. Every happy memory created for a child is another treasure of a lifetime.
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Questions; I would love to hear your comments.
*What outdoor childhood memories do you cherish? Where are your favourite places to go walking or spend time in the outdoors?
I love being by the coast. Last year we lived in Wales and we were spoilt for choice. Two of my favourites;
*Worms Head that looks down on Rhossili Bay in the Gower Swansea ( Rhossili and South Gower National Trust)
*Stackpole National Trust ( and you can walk to Barafundle Bay) in Pembrokeshire.
Worms Head Gower, Swansea, Wales
Stackpole National Trust Pembrokeshire Wales
Video (places include Virgina Water Surrey, Windsor Great Park and Millennium Coastal Path in Llanelli Wales)