Tomorrow is Earth Day 2014. We love Earth Day. Because we love our earth, the outdoors, and all that brings. We hope that you do as well. And, if you are parents…that you are raising children that love the outdoors as well. Here are some tips and tricks to help you on your way!
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I am writing from the coolness of my living room after just spending time in the hot sun. If you follow me on Facebook you have heard me whine and whine about our winter here in Wisconsin. About a week and a half ago we finally lost the last of the snow. And then today…90 degrees. We are soaking in the warmth. Slathered in sunscreen. I’m a big sunscreen believer. I hear again and again and again…”you don’t look old enough to have a 15 year old” “wow, I wouldn’t think you are that old”. Okay, sometimes the remark about my age could have something to do with my immaturity rather then looks. But, often…it’s because I look young.
Mostly, it’s genetics. Thank you GG, Grandma, Mom….whomever. But, but, but!!! I also eat right, exercise, put great products on my skin, and…..USE SUNSCREEN. Always!! It’s in my moisturizer, foundation, lipgloss, and I slather on before going outside.
Actually, I’m kinda in love with the new spray ones. So easy for Levi. Ooh Ooh Ooh…and the new ones that can be applied when the skin is wet? Brilliant!!! Sooo was a mom that thought that one up. A mom that had to make her kid come out of the water, dry off, slather up, and then wait for it to set. Yeah, works real well with 2 year olds. But now….Spray AND Wet!!
Why can they still not come up with a better way to clean the shower? geesh.
Okay, off topic again…as usual. I am actually thinking what was I gonna write??
Ways to help with raising children that love the outdoors.
I’m gonna gab again. Gah. Just skip, you know you are going to anyways. I want to start by saying my kids are not outdoors enthusiasts. There are days they would rather play inside, watch movies, and go on the internet. Truth be told that may happen more then I would like. But…I’ve halted that as much as possible. And, (shhhh) they haven’t gotten to wise to it.
These are my tried and true tips. Still working the kinks out on other tips, I’ll give you more later. But, follow these and you will be light-years ahead!
1. Give them no other good option.
Harsh. Hard to follow through with sometimes. But, necessary.
Here’s our rule in the summer…if it’s nice outside there are no electronics. None. No exceptions.
Rainy days are for movies, video games, internet, and all that stuff. But truthfully, they tend to forget after enough days go by. And I just don’t remind them.
Other ways to get a similar effect is to have “electronic hours”. Times when they have to take a break. Also, reduce the number of t.v.’s, computers, tablets, and such they even have access to. This is such a first-world problem too, by the way. I feel foolish even having to write this. If your children have to share only one t.v. chances are they won’t all get to watch what they want. Gasp! (oh please, you had this when you were a kid. It’s called sibling bonding. aka fighting over the t.v. remote. It’s a necessary right of passage). Please oh please oh please oh please…make me proud and put away some of the electronic devices all together!
Boredom breeds imagination. Let them be bored. Maybe they will go outside. Score!
2. Make it simple.
Are you a mother that requires a hat, and special shoes, or certain clothes, certain doors, only here or there, must put this lotion on, watch out for this, don’t do that, and please don’t track in?
Along with the super enormous crazy amount of electronics kids have comes with it the loss of their sense of exploration and discovery.
Keep the rules simple, easy to follow, and basic.
Don’t require something ridiculous. If a certain lotion is required from you prior to going outside. Like sunscreen is required from me. Make it easy. I pay more for the spray and wet version of sunscreen so that Levi will use it. And he does. Granted, he would use the lotion if I made him. But there would be a whole lot more “but mooommmmm” going on. Make it easy for them and you.
Let them explore. Within reason of course. And if it makes you feel better, open a window and watch while they are in the backyard. Be safe. But, don’t hover. Let them be independent, discover, and delight in the world that is theirs. If you hover and control, the world outside never becomes theirs. They will see it through your eyes, never their own. So…BACK OFF!!
And gosh darn…in our world of crazy amount of inventions take advantage of the tools and tricks that exist to make your child safe and feel independent!. Fence your yard, if you can. Is 100 feet away from the house too much for you to handle with your 6 year old? Maybe a walkie talkie would be fun and help you let them be out of arms reach? Let them pitch a tent 5 feet from you and be in it by themselves. Or, hire the neighborhood teenager to sit outside and read a magazine while your child plays. You’ll figure out how to be safe and let them feel independent in their outside world.
If you garden, or even if you don’t…think about letting your child have a little garden. Even a lone tomato plant. Here’s Levi with his tomato plant.
We go one step further and allow our kids to grow gardens every summer. Then they sell their produce back to me (okay, they have this in the bag. Because, I buy the plants and everything for the garden. Smart kids! But, smarter momma!! Ha!). Instead of spending the money at the farmer’s market I spend it at their “market”. They take care of a garden and earn a bit of money. Best of all…they care! As in, they notice when it rains. Or, when it’s dry. They know what compost their gardens like. They pay attention to their outside world.
A butterfly garden can be small but a great way to get kids excited. Add fun projects to it and let them watch it daily. We have a small little area with brightly colored plants. We also added a giant tepee to the kid’s gardens and plan to plant vine on it. How fun is that??
Do you have a landscaped yard? Could they help you make fun little decorations to put in a couple corners of your yard.. Sure, it might be a bit hokey. It might not blend perfectly with the hydrangeas. Again, get over it. You should be about raising kids, not plants. Guaranteed when they are grown you’ll be glad you spend time with hokey decorations.
Blah, blah, blah. We covered how you need to back your momma train of hover UP! How you need to take away the option of electronics. And how giving them ownership in their outside world will jump start their love for the outdoors. Now, let’s talk about the real diamond. Let’s talk a child’s language.
It’s all about fun in the outdoors.
Give them plenty to do that fits with what they love. Don’t force what YOU love on them. Doh. Quickest way to get a kid to hate the outdoors? Force them to do stuff they don’t like. Guaranteed.
Here are the Top Ten outdoor fun toys children love…
1. Sidewalk chalk. (make hopscotch, play hangman, giant game of Pictionary, write messages to neighbors…you name it.
2. Bubbles. doh!
3. Water toys of ALL kinds. Always have water toys. Even a plain jane sprinkler!
4. Balls. In all shapes and sizes. Doesn’t matter. They are winners.
5. Outdoor games like golf, badminton, volleyball, and horseshoes. There’s a reason they are classics.
6. Picnics. mandatory. All parents should be pros at having picnics.
7. Cool clothes for outside. A shirt that changes color in the sun…hello child going outside to see it work!
8. Bug house, butterfly net, all things related to creepy crawlies!
9. Flashlights, light-up stuff for at night.
10. Whistles, horns, noisy stuff. Perfect!
Here are a few things that we do around here for fun…
swingset, volleyball, and giant sandbox (part of the volleyball court…nice how that works )
Plastic cups and plant stakes with duct tape flags make for a great game of yard golf!!
Post on that HERE.
Outdoor Chess takes up an 8 by 8 square part of our front yard and is used all the time! I just whomped on Levi this afternoon in fact.
Post can be found HERE.
Decorate some simple pavers with numbers and set them in a hopscotch pattern. I’ve tucked mine away in between 2 gardens. It’s great fun to see children that haven’t been here before discover it!
Post to learn how to make the Outdoor Hopscotch can be found Here.
A giant sheet of landscape plastic and a hose. Endless entertainment. A little dishsoap makes it extra fun. And for the teens, we throw things like pickle juice, old cereal, whatever we can find…just to mix it up! Ewww!!
So, let’s get our kids outside learning and exploring! Kids that love being outside are going to be the best at taking care of our world! You might not have a large yard or even a yard at all…but you can find a way!! You’ll be so glad you did…pinky swear!