How to get your Kids Outdoors this Winter

5 reasons why and 8 reasons how to get them off their devices and out of the house!

When that I was and a little tiny boy / With hey, ho, the wind and the rain / A foolish thing was but a toy / For the rain it raineth every day. William Shakespeare 1564-1616, Twelfth Night.

There’s an old idiom, with variants across the northern hemisphere, that goes something like this: ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’. And when it comes to getting kids outdoors, nothing was ever truer.

This maxim applies as much to life in the UK as it does to life in Norway, where it’s their number one saying! As this article, on Life in Norway, points out, if you don’t go out in bad weather in Norway then you’d never go out at all. We should point out at this juncture that the solfatttig (sun-poor) Swedes claim ownership of this particular idiom. With weather as capricious as theirs, and Norway’s – and ours – it’s not surprising.

It saddens us that this not going out is indeed the experience of rather a lot of children. It’s now known that three quarters of UK kids, spend less time outdoors than the nation’s prisoners. To get that in perspective, that’s seventy-four percent of children who spend less than an hour outdoors each day. And a fifth of UK children don’t, on an average day, play outdoors at all. Shocking!

With autumn upon us and winter approaching, now more than ever children will be cosied up indoors. But is that right? We at 4 Points Leisure, think not!

If children don’t learn to go outdoors in all weathers, they can’t grow up to be rounded, self-functioning adults. Navigating rain, estimating slippery surfaces, determining how far you can run before you get soaked – these are all essential life skills. Not to mention the bliss to be had from coming back inside to warm up with a hot chocolate. And perhaps a snifter for the adults?

The question is then how do we get our kids outdoors? It’s a toughie, we’ll give you that. The draw of the devices is always there. Have a read of our Tech Free one day a week blog, for some ideas about removing devices from your family life – even if it’s only for one day.

Now – voila – we present you with our five reasons why fresh air WILL do them good:

Why children need to be outdoors:

1. Being outdoors reduces colds

As we know it’s not the cold weather that gives you a cold. A cold or flu is caused by bacteria or a virus.  And where do bacteria and viruses thrive? Indoors. In the lovely centrally heated, wall-to-wall carpeted, almost hermetically sealed environment that we call home. Ventilate your home, throw open the windows even on a freezing cold day, to help get rid of bacteria etc. and get outside for a larger proportion of the day.

2. Vitamin D exposure

We love Vitamin D. It helps to regulate mental and emotional moods which means an increase in the body’s serotonin levels. Serotonin, is the body’s happy drug. So the more sun the kids get out into – the healthier and happier the kids.

3. Challenges

Both mental and physical, as we mentioned before, ‘how fast can I run on ice?’ or ‘how long does it take me to climb this snow-covered hill?’ But keep the First Aid kit handy.

4. Good clothes

Now, let’s take a step back to the beginning of this blog. As adults, we know that if our feet are wet, we’ll feel cold and miserable. The same applies for our kids. So, you need to start by getting your youngsters into jacket/coat, boots – and, if you’re doing wellies, two pairs of socks are ideal. Add mittens/gloves, woolly hat, ear muffs etc. When they’re warm, they’ll stay out far longer. The best way to keep the little ones (or even the teenagers) warm is to layer them up. Thin layers are warmer than one heavy layer because they trap warm air against you.

5. A chance to enjoy a new twist on existing panoramas

When snow or leaves fall, the world outside the window takes on a whole new look. This changed vista from their window brings a new appreciation of the outdoors world. Building a snowman uses different muscles to the ones used to jump in a paddling pool in summer!

So that’s why kids need to get outdoors. Now to the trickier issue of how to do it. Here are eight great ideas:

How to get kids outdoors?

  1. If there’s snow on the ground, how about filling an old water spray bottle, or washing up liquid bottle, with food colouring and get them to create some art by spraying the snow? An easy back garden activity.
  2. Woodland Trust Ice ArtNatural Ice decorations, this idea one comes from our friends at The Woodland Trust. Take some interesting woodland items (leaves, twigs, pine cones or berries) place them in a bowl, add water and freeze. Once frozen hang them up.
  3. Den Building. Seems an obvious one – when we were growing up we did this in the garden, but gardens today are often much smaller. This activity is one for the woods then. Take some picnic rugs or old blankets with you, to sit on once you’ve built the den. You can even take your lunch with the obligatory hot chocolate.
  4. Poo ID – we know, grim, but children love it. Print off a Poo Id form, again, from The Woodland Trust, and get out there – poo spotting.
  5. Take a night hike. Add an element of surprise, stay up late and hike at night. There are plenty of apps for your devices to show you the star constellations. Get glow sticks, hot chocolate and a warm blanket, to make it a special night out.
  6. Baking spuds – this is one that our friends at Penny Post suggested! Bake the spuds wrapped in foil, and eat outdoors. Use as hand warmers first and then eat!
  7. Colour hunt – You give the children a sheet, listing ten colours and they have to find something on their nature walk with that colour.
  8. Treasure Hunt – This is an old idea. We work it that the clues make up a word at the end (chocolate ice cream, anyone?), either the first letter of the treasure, or place the letter as the clue. And it can go on for hours. If you’re out walking or at the park, it can just be ‘find me a pine cone’, ‘find me a red berry’ etc.

Hopefully, we’ve given you some inspiration to get the children outdoors this winter. Don’t miss out. Winter is a great season for change, and all too often we ignore it by huddling indoors. The hot chocolate we mentioned earlier will taste so much better when you come in from the cold, all rosy cheeked.

Let us know what ideas or plans you have, and we’ll include them here. Until next time #getoutdoors.

 

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