It’s not news to us that there is a direct relationship between contact with the outdoors/nature and child development. This contact with nature touches our being in a profound way and cultivates the development of mind, body and soul. I imagine I am preaching to the choir when I emphasize to you how important and wonderful and necessary outdoor playtime is for children (and adults too!). Fitting outdoor playtime into a busy schedule, however, can be the biggest obstacle. Outside time can easily go to the wayside when there’s work, homework, kids’ activities, laundry, dishes, cooking, etc. to balance. We certainly appreciate a clean house, but value healthy bodies & minds before a perfect home. Several parents have asked how/when to fit in outdoor playtime, so I’ll share with you an example of how our day unfolds and how we accomplish getting outside (in the suburban outdoors!) everyday.
6:45 – Everyone is up (if not before)
7:15 – Leave to take Ava, our 4 year old, to Pre-School
8:00 – Get home with the other two (3 and 2). We usually finish getting dressed, eat breakfast (again). We spend some time reading, coloring, tea-partying, and I attempt to accomplish some kind of housework.
9:00 – Under normal circumstances we go outside, either in our yard/culdesac or we walk to a nearby park. Some weekdays I’ll take a spin class at the YMCA where the kids play while I regain my composure 🙂
10:30 – Leave to pick up Ava from Pre-School
11:00 – Return home, the kids play outside in front of the house, or we may stop at a park on our way home and enjoy a picnic.
12:30 – Wrap up lunch/playtime and transition to naptime
3:00 – This time varies, but once everyone is up from naps, we head back outside! Neighborhood friends may join us in front or we may walk down to the park down the street.
5:30 – ish. We go back inside, Daddy comes home and I finish dinner. (Meanwhile, chaos normally ensues and we all survive this brief moment of crazy until dinner happens!…I know I know, crock pot cooking is such a great idea!! Send me your healthy recipes!)
7 – 8:00 – Bed time
Over the weekend is usually when we’ll venture off to more exciting locations to explore, play, and have fun! I realize our family schedule is a pretty simple one while the kids are young. As the children grow and become more involved in sports/activities, I’m sure we will encounter new challenges to making outdoor playtime happen each day as a family.
Would you like to get outside with your family more? Is your busy schedule standing in the way? Here are a few ideas to consider how/when to fit in outdoor play:
- Pick a time that works with your natural rhythm and make it consistent: after breakfast, before lunch, after nap time, after school or when homework is finished…
- Make lunchtime an outdoor picnic
- Consider cutting out an activity (we cancelled ballet class for my 3& 4 year old girls to allow for free afternoons, we spend less time rushing around and more time playing)
- Do you meet your child at a bus stop? Walk (instead of drive) and take your time walking back home.
- Do you have little ones with you while your older children are in sports or another activity? Is there a safe place nearby where you can play outside?
- Put the kids to work! When you wash the car, mow the lawn, work on your car, or fiddle your thumbs in the garage, give your child(ren) something to do. The little ones can help vacuum and wash the car.
Lastly, do you need a quick idea for getting out? I love these two bloggers’ ideas I came across this week, check them out:
A little bit of outdoor play goes a long way. How are you going to get out there this week?
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