Contributed by September Blogger of the Month, Mae Kiggens
My son started Kindergarten this year and I have been thinking about how to compensate for the decrease in his physical activity for a while. Luckily it isn’t too hard to make time for more play in Kindergarten, not much homework yet. But as I ponder the years to come, I realize I won’t always be so simple. With extracurricular activities, less than ideal weather, errands and homework, it can seem like a huge inconvenience to make time for outdoor play.
Spending time outdoors is part of a healthy lifestyle and it is one of my biggest motivations for making time for the outdoors. I think we all know that obesity rates have risen despite the exponential increase of organized sports. In fact, obesity rates in children have more than doubled and tripled in teenagers over the past twenty years. And lack of physical activity is a strong contributor to this epidemic.
On the practical side, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids spend at least 60 minutes a day playing outdoors. With only one 30 minute recess per school day, I have a little work to do if I want my son to get the recommended minimum. Easier said than done, right?
- Spread it out. We spend a little time before school, during school and after school outdoors. It is much less overwhelming that way. I get up 10 minutes earlier to allow my son extra time on the playground before school.
- Ditch the car. If you can, walk or ride your bike to school. Our own OKWB Community Manager, Stephanie, and her son ride their bikes to school. Think how much better you will feel too.
- Eat outdoors. If your kids have an after school snack, take it outdoors. Personally, I love picnics.
- Load up on the weekends. There are so many fun festivals going on and the weather is finally starting to cool off. Even when it is hot we find multiple activities we can do outdoors over the weekend.
- Schedule it. Think about it ahead of time. If I don’t, I sometimes forget or just get too busy. Even better, get other moms involved. It will be harder to blow it off and your kids will be happier with friends to play with.
Just one more plug, bear with me. I do understand that life gets really busy; for everyone. It seems like one more thing to do. Almost every time we are headed outdoors something goes wrong, a kids is extra grouchy, etc. But once we are outdoors and playing together we never regret it. We have so many simple but fun memories of being together outdoors. After all, what are you kids going to remember when they are adults? Spending one more night playing video games or special time as a family?
How do you all make time for the outdoors even during extremely busy times?
Mae is a recovering park ranger spending her days blogging about her family’s outdoor escapades at OutdoorsMom. As an urban outdoor mom, Mae occupies a niche in the outdoor blogger community, offering ideas and encouragement to city dwellers that connects them with the outdoors.