The Benefits of Using Outdoor Play to Raise a Family in a Modern World
Date: 07 Aug 2019
OUR SENIOR MARKETING EXECUTIVE, CELIA CAVANOUGH, TALKS ABOUT HER EXPERIENCE WITH OUTDOOR PLAY
As a mum to three very active boys—aged 9, 7 and 5— I whole-heartedly believe in the benefits of outdoor play for my children.
I often find that when they are stuck inside for a long length of time, they get restless and need an outlet for their energy. And as there are three of them, their energy bounces off each other and can come out as rather enthusiastic play fighting, which creates a feeling of chaos in the house. Everyone can end up on edge and a bit grumpy as a result!
We are also aware that we can use screen time to keep my boys occupied and at peace! Although it gives my husband and I the chance to get jobs done around the house, I’m conscious about how much time they spend around electronics and the need to balance this with fresh air and activity.
We have tried a number of outdoor activities, but these are the ones that I would recommend from experience:
- The local park- Going out first thing in the morning is a good way to set up the day for your whole family. One of our current favourite activities is to go to the local skate park (before the bigger children get there). Many local skate parks also have a playground nearby, so for us our youngest son could play in his own space whilst the older two rode their scooters.
- Country parks- Large parks are a great and inexpensive way to go out and have your child burn off some energy! We usually combine a nice walk with a play in a playground, which is a fantastic opportunity to include some wildlife spotting, such as identifying birds. We also do this by taking a large jar to a pond or stream, scooping up some water and seeing what creatures we could find.
- Bike riding- Going on a family bike ride is a great way for your family to get some exercise and fresh air in a fun way. When the children were smaller, we used a trailer that my husband towed until all my children were big enough to ride on their own. This also presents a good opportunity to spot local wildlife.
- Playgrounds- Going to local playgrounds are not only a great way to play outside, they are a way to socialise with others and can encourage sharing through play equipment. For me, my boys usually end up making friends with other children they met there from the local neighbourhood.
- Picnics- Packing up a picnic can turn your next outing into a nice family adventure! I found that when we incorporated a picnic into any of the above activities, it was a great way to eat and talk as a family. You may also find your children being less fussy with what they eat in this setting, as they’re always hungry after being so active!
- Wet weather days- Finally, even when it’s raining, it’s worth getting your wet weather gear on and have a jump in some puddles!
Adding outdoor play into your regular family outings shouldn’t feel like a hassle. So even if you have some errands to run, why not walk through the local park on the way to the shops?
You may surprise yourself with just how creative and happy your child is with outdoor play. You will also find it to be a great tool in removing electronics for some time and letting kids discover things for themselves, all the while creating great family memories and stories for years to come.
If you’re looking for some more outdoor play ideas, have a chat with your local Bright Horizons Nursery Manager who will happy to share with you a range of activities we try at our nurseries every day.Bright Horizons are proud to be working in partnership with NCT. We support their mission to help parents through the first 1,000 days, to have the best possible experience of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. If you would like more information on the topic of outdoor play from NCT, please visit https://www.nct.org.uk/baby-toddler/games-and-play/benefits-outdoor-play-for-children.