In the last two decades, kids have been spending more and more time indoors, with as little as 30 minutes of outdoor playtime. Currently, the average American child spends more than 5 hours a day in front of a screen — be it TV, iPod, smart phone or tablet.
Needless to say, the shift to inside activities is impacting the wellness of children. Childhood obesity rates have more than doubled over the past 30 years, children’s stress levels are higher than ever and depression among youngsters is becoming more prevalent.
If you need a little inspiration, try one, or all, of these seven activities for outdoor adventure:
1. Plan your fun
Make time each weekend to go outside — plan a picnic, take a bike ride or find a new hiking trail. Next, add weekday activities like throwing a baseball around, taking the dog for a walk or teaching the kids to roller skate.
2. Become your own detective
Before hiking your favorite trail or biking around town, write down what your kids would expect to see while out and about — anything from types of flowers to wildlife to architecture and historical landmarks. See how many things you can cross off your list.
3. Sleep and learn under the stars
Learn about stars and planets away from the city lights. Grab a tent, sleeping bags and a star chart and head to your favorite camping spot to enjoy an open view of the night sky. Help your kids identify constellations, stars and galaxies. Don’t forget the marshmallows and the telescope.
4. Embrace the animal kingdom
Add some bright flowers to your garden to attract caterpillars and butterflies, and teach your kids about the life cycle of the butterfly. Or volunteer at a local animal shelter to walk dogs or dote on cats. Your kids will get some exercise along with learning to explore the world around them.
5. Bring out the artist within
Instead of coloring at the kitchen table in the same old coloring books, take your kids outside and let the pavement be their canvas. Have a family Do-It-Yourself day beforehand and get your hands dirty by making your own chalk. Take to the driveway and sidewalks and bring out their inner artist.