Playing outside together is beneficial for kids on so, so many levels! Not only do kids get the freedom that they can’t find within the four walls of the house to make a mess and to be loud, they also get all the benefits of the fresh air and sunshine. It’s really just plain fun. The other great thing about playing outside is that when you do it as a family, you’re creating family memories and emotions that will stick with your kids for long after they’ve cleaned up and gone inside.
Here are a few reasons that the family that plays outside together stays happier.
Stress is, unfortunately, something that we all deal with, even kids today have to deal with stress! In order to combat the symptoms associated with stress, families can spend time outside together. Green space, in particular, has been shown to help decrease kid’s stress levels, so for families who are feeling crazy with the worries of daily life, getting outside is an instant solution! A family bike ride or even just a stroll around the block together are perfect outdoor activities for families who feel overwhelmed. Making the time for a picnic (even in the winter) is another beautiful way to reduce family stress and to bond together.
Whatever you end up doing outside together as a family, know that you’ll be getting the benefit of stress reduction. Try making a weekly family tradition of getting outside for an activity together and you’ll find that everyone is a lot more relaxed (even without buying expensive gas-powered ATV for kids). After a while, everyone will learn to rely on your time together to help them get through their struggles outside of them.
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Increased Attention Span
Natural settings help everyone to get their wiggles out. Even we adults need the chance to run off our energy. And though we might feel as though we’re weighted down with exhaustion. Once we get out and get moving we generally feel less like we’re dragging and more like we’re alive! Studies have shown that outdoor play can have a positive effect on the ADHD symptoms in children. Those kinds of symptoms are of course a huge issue for families that struggle with them, so getting outside together can really improve the whole family dynamic. Free play with a ball or simple equipment allows kids to explore and figure out interactions while also allowing them to their physical bodies moving.
For families, outdoor activities are fundamentally different than indoor activities that they might do together as everyone gets the benefits of physical activity and its improvement in attention span.
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Better Social Skills
Unstructured play outside with the family encourages the development of executive functioning and positive behavior. Why? Because kids who have that kind of unstructured play, have the room to explore what kinds of behavior are okay. And what kinds of behavior aren’t in an environment that’s not nearly as controlled as the indoor environment. Is it ok to yell at someone to get their attention? What about sneaking up behind them?
Outside the rules is much laxer, and it allows kids to explore all kinds of social interactions. Play equipment is a great choice because it offers so many options for families to create social plays like pirates or fairies or knights or a thousand other possibilities! When parents play too, then kids can learn from modeling what good behavior looks like.
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Families today seem more and more crunched for the time given the deluge of activities and obligations that we all face. Getting outside together is the perfect way for families to reconnect. Making all kinds of memories and creating a wonderfully healthy family dynamic. The family that plays outside together stays happier!