Anyone that knows us will know that we love being outdoors. Dan and I are both very outdoorsy people and that has definitely rubbed off on our daughter. Whatever the weather, there will be some activity that Darcie wants to do outside. Whether that’s splashing in the puddles on rainy days or cruising around in her new Cozy Coupe in the sunshine.
I was surprised when I read that a recent study by Little Tikes had found that a huge 42% of children regularly use the excuse of it being too cold outside as a reason to stay indoors. A preference to play video games, being too tired and a fear of getting muddy are just a few other reasons that were recorded in this survey. This came as a huge shock to me because these children couldn’t sound more opposite to my little wild flower who loves nothing more than to put on her rain suit and explore the great outdoors. Who knows if it’s down to parenting or simply luck of the draw, but I think most of us know how important it is to spend time outdoors with our children and that it can be a great way to bond with them too.
Psychologist Emma Kenny has some tops for parents looking for ways to encourage their children to spend more time outdoors:
Have fun with them!
Kids absolutely love to spend time with their parents. Whether you create an obstacle course in the garden up and over the slide and around the sandpit, or a simple game of hide and seek, playing together is fantastic for bonding and ensures lots of healthy activity.
Get kids growing!
Connecting children with nature is a sure fire way to spark their interest in and connection with the outdoors. Planting sunflower seeds and having a ‘whose grows tallest’ competition is a simple way to get things growing!
Get creative with the outdoors.
Messy play becomes a lot more fun when it doesn’t matter how messy you get. The sandpit and water table are great places to start making memories, and why not take the paints, paper and brushes outdoors and help your kids with their messy masterpieces.
Go on a nature treasure trail.
Grab some bags and go out on a nature walk, take their scooter or trike making sure you gather interesting pebbles, and leaves along the way. When you get home you can make creative collages that you can keep as souvenirs.
Get them den building!
You’re never too old or too young for den building. Aside from building imagination, dexterity and divergent play skills, there is nothing more exciting than having a secret den to play in
Go moon watching as a family.
From counting stars, to learning all the shapes of the moon. Getting outside at night can help relax children before bed and help with a restful sleep.
Play bug detectives!
Get muddy looking under rocks and digging in the soil to see how many bugs and worms you can spot. This activity brings nature to life and helps kids feel a sense of excitement in the outside world
I can’t wait to try out some of these ideas with Darcie. A nature treasure was one of the first things we did together when she learnt to walk and as she gets older this activity will only become more fun. I love the idea of building dens with her in the garden too because she has a new found enjoyment of playing in her TeeTee in her bedroom. We have also planted sunflower seeds this year which Darcie was so excited by that my life has become a constant mission to stop her from killing them with love (by love I mean constant watering and gifting them with stones).
One of the other ways to encourage your children to play outside that wasn’t mentioned in that list is to invest in some really good garden toys for them. As Darcie turns two in a few weeks we have made it our mission to have our garden be as fun a play zone for her as possible. Once baby number two arrives it will make my life a lot easier to have the garden set up as a safe, fun environment for her. We’ve got a sand and water table, a swing, a sand pit, a slide, numerous smaller toys for her and Dan has even built her her very own playhouse too. The newest addition to our collection is the Cozy Coupe from Little Tikes which I think we can all agree is basically a staple feature in most gardens around the country.
The Cozy Coupe is the cheery yellow and red car that we can all remember from our childhoods. It was the toy that everyone fought over, and watching Darcie play in hers I can well imagine her becoming quite territorial over it when her baby brother is old enough to want a turn. The car itself was easy enough to assemble, I did attempt it myself but there is one section which requires two people so at that point I gave up and we waited (Darcie, rather impatiently!) for Daddy to come home and finish the job. Since she’s had it in the garden she has enjoyed pottering about in it, putting stones and other small toys in the drinks holder at the back and gleefully tooting the horn. The car comes with a removable floor which means that we will be able to make it safe to push her little brother around in it one day too. Darcie doesn’t have the floor attached, so she can ride around as fast as her little legs can take her, which isn’t that fast when the garden is as waterlogged as it has been the last few weeks (Hello Summer, we are ready when you are!!). At £59.99 it isn’t the cheapest thing in our garden but it will certainly provide years of entertainment for both of our children. I would definitely recommend is as a great toy to keep your little ones entertained outside and hopefully as a way to entice them to spend more time outdoors.
How do you keep your children entertained outside?
*we were kindly sent the Cozy Coupe in exchange for this review, but all opinions are my own.