Do you want your family to spend more time outside? Are you wondering how to get kids outside more consistently? Read on for our favorite tips to get families off screens and into nature.
Did you know that the average child only spends 4-7 minutes per day outside, and 7 hours per day on screens?
Researchers agree that it is absolutely paramount that we start getting our children to spend more time outside. With increased rates of anxiety, ADHD, vision problems, and more, this crisis has actually been dubbed “nature deficit disorder” and it is seriously impacting children worldwide.
Healthy child development requires children spend more time outside. Nature play improves sensory regulation, coordination, and focus. It relieves stress and anxiety and promotes confidence, creativity, and imagination. Outdoors, children move more, think more, focus more, and problem solve more.
Plus, it’s just healthy to to change up your scenery, get some vitamin D, and exercise your body, even mildly. I literally feel like a better mom when we spend more time outside, and my kids are happier.
I get loads of questions on social media about how to get kids outside consistently and more frequently. Is it really feasible to get outside daily? How can we create habits that encourage outdoor play?
And what creative ways can we spend more time outside, whether it’s exploring our own backyards or getting out onto the trails.
As a side note, you don’t need to love hiking, camping, or backpacking to be “outdoorsy.” Simply use some of these suggestions to spend more time outside and stick with what’s enjoyable for you.
Below, you’ll discover ways to move your playtime outside, limit screen time, and raise children who love nature.
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How to Get Kids Outside: Favorite Habit Forming Tips
Set a Goal
Whenever I’m asked about why or how to get kids outside daily, my go to response is always this: set an attainable, quantifiable goal.
Instead of setting a goal to simply spend more time outside, set a quantifiable goal of getting outside five days a week for a morning walk. Making it specific will give you more accountability. The more you do it, the more you’ll crave it, and the more benefits you’ll receive.
Set Up Outdoor Toys and Games
It’s hard to constantly leave the house with little kids, so definitely set up some outdoor items in your own backyard for ease and accessibility.
We love our woodland play set and it’s fantastic in a smaller backyard. Items like sports equipment, a water table, sand box, or even bubbles can motivate children to spend more time outside, too.
You can think beyond traditional items as well with outdoor art easels, mud kitchens, or a climbing dome.
Set Screen Timers
Technology is addicting, and it can often pass the hours without awareness.
If you’re wondering how to get kids outside and off their devices, start setting an internal screen timer so the device shuts off on its own (without you being the bad guy!) Then, when kids are seeking something else to do or play, they’ll be more inclined to head outdoors.
Embrace Dirt, Mud, Rain, and Snow
The only time we don’t go outside to play is when it’s dangerous. Notice I didn’t say uncomfortable. I won’t take my children out during one of our infamous Texas hail storms, but light rain doesn’t deter us.
Reframe bad weather as an opportunity to experience something different. Instead of saying we can’t go out because it’s raining, invite your kids to splash in puddles.
Which brings me to…
Own Appropriate Clothing
It’s a lot easier to embrace less than ideal weather when you have the right clothing. Every kid should own, at the bare minimum, a rain coat and rain boots. Then, based on your region, you can fill in as needed.
Despite living in the sunbelt, we own winter coats and warm shoes. Cold weather gear is important if you’re not living where it’s sunny and 75 year round.
Consider shopping second-hand if you want to boost your weather wardrobe without spending a lot of money.
Schedule Playdates Outside
Instead of meeting at a fast food playground, indoor play spot, or library (though you know I love my library), meet at a park. Get into the habit of asking to meet somewhere outdoors instead of your home.
Along the same lines, start making mom friends who are into nature play.
Head to your local playground right after school, start walking on local trails, and try asking around in local social media and hiking groups. Even these new mom’s groups provide a point of contact to find link minded mom friends.
Check Local Events
Does your library have outside story time? Are there any fairs or festivals coming to town? We’ve even found dinosaur safari walks at local nature centers!
Walk to Your Destination
One of my top tips to spend more time outside is to walk to places.
You don’t need to live in a metro area, like New York City, to be able to walk places. Can you safely walk to a grocery store, library, or even to get coffee? We clock dozens of hours each year by choosing to walk instead of drive.
Take Family Vacations That Focus on Outdoor Adventures
Most of our travels focus on spending time outside hiking, playing at the beach, or exploring state and national parks. Spending time in nature is a great way to experience diverse landscapes and new places.
Next time you book a family vacation, consider what attractions and activities are available outside.
22 Ways to Spend More Time Outside
Now that we’ve covered how to get kids outside more consistently and habit forming tips, I’m sharing a quick list of some unique outdoor activities. The best way to spend more time outside is to constantly find new ways to explore, play, and learn through nature.
Our Favorite Ways to Spend More Time Outdoors:
- Take a child led walk
- Go on a scavenger hunt
- Hike a local trail
- Go for a bike ride
- Find a new playground
- Play with chalk
- Blow bubbles
- Find a botanical garden or arboretum
- Visit an animal farm
- Go to the zoo
- Play at the beach
- Swim in a pool
- Get a water table or sandbox
- Read outside
- Walk around your closest major city
- Play mini golf
- Eat your meals outside
- Jump in puddles
- Visit a nature center
- Toss a ball around an open field
- Bring toy trucks outside to play in the dirt
Do you have more tips for getting kids outside? How do you raise children who love nature?
You don’t have to be a backpack trekking, camping loving family to enjoy nature. Your backyard, local playgrounds, and accessible nature trails are more than enough to start getting kids outside and into nature.
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