The clocks have just sprung forward, there’s a stretch in the evening and we are beginning to get an occasional glimpse of a strange yellow ball in the sky. We have all been stuck indoors long enough. It is the perfect time to go out and enjoy that great fresh air and a feeling of what seems like freedom.
Regardless of space, if it’s a small square patch of concrete or a 5-acre field, you can still reap the benefits of outdoor play. Now more than ever we need to get outside, whether it’s to get a break from electronics, exercise, or just for a change of scenery.
Children love to get out and there are so many benefits. Everyone tends to think of all the great physical advantages it has, and of course, there are so many, but consider the emotional, social and intellectual values it has also. At present there is a huge focus on mental well-being, nothing promotes this like being outdoors, for us as adults, it makes us feel as if we are having a break from the mundane everyday chores. It gives us the chance to unwind, relax and relieve any stress. This is the same for children, it gives them the opportunity to be themselves, have fewer restrictions, allows them the freedom to just let go! Outdoors and fresh air are fundamental in regulating emotions and moods, whether it’s through vigorous physical activity, quiet mindfulness, or screaming and shouting, it makes us feel good and refreshed.
Studies show that being outdoors, even for just a short time reduces the level of cortisol in the brain, this is the stress hormone, now particularly in the middle of a global pandemic, everyone’s stress and anxiety levels are much higher, so why not take advantage of this natural and fun way to alleviate it a little.
Being out in the sunlight is also crucial for our Vitamin D production, which helps us absorb calcium to develop strong healthy bones. Particularly now in the spring and summer months, we should try to get as much as possible.
We don’t always have to wait for the nice weather to get out, children love nothing more than getting out in the rain and jumping in the muddy puddles, and on snow days there is nothing quite like trudging uphill and the thrill of sleighing straight back down again. We all too often let the weather dictate our activities, and in this country, if we wait for the sun to shine to get out, we may not get the opportunity to do anything. As Ranulph Fiennes says “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”
Children don’t need lots of toys for outdoors, let them explore their natural environment, nurture their imagination, and get their hands dirty… the possibilities are endless.
Here are just a few ideas that you can try over the Easter break or anytime!
- Exercise – jumping, hopping, skipping, running, walking
- Outside dining – picnics, BBQ, make your own ice-cream parlour, lemonade stand/shop
- Family sports day – obstacle course, egg & spoon race, sack race, 3 legged race, fancy dress race
- Games – hopscotch, rounders, tug of war, kerbsie, water fights, hide & seek, tag, stuck in the mud, treasure hunt, musical chairs
- Mindfulness – bubbles, I spy, Simon says, nature walks, bird/wildlife watching, people watching, gardening, planting, arts & crafts with leaves/natural materials, star gazing, moon/cloud watching, making mud pies
Happy Easter & have fun!