I recently heard a saying which I love, “More green time, less screen time”. The quote originated from a Nature Canada report by Jill Sturdy, which highlights the benefits of playing outside.
Here at Little Nature Players, that’s what we are all about. So I thought I would share with you some things we find help us spend more time outside, connecting with nature and each other….
- Being prepared.
Keeping sunscreen and a hat next to the front door makes it easier to get going. Leaving a spare pair of clothes and a towel in the car means it doesn’t matter if we are out in nature and the kids get wet or muddy. It allows us to relax and encourage getting messy. We pack a raincoat, gloves, sunscreen, whatever makes it easier to say ‘yes’ to getting outside!
- Asking yourself if you can do it outside.
Since our caravan trip the kids want to be outside from the moment they wake up. I love it. So, I have found if I reflect on what we are doing for the day, there are a lot of things that can easily be done outside. I have my morning coffee outside. Meal times, folding clothes, paying bills, homework, reading, catching up with friends… can all be done outside. The beauty here is that the more time you spend outside together, the less mess there is inside too!
Sometimes we swap meeting for a coffee at a café for a take away coffee and catch up at the park/beach while the kids play. The fresh air benefits everyone.
- Leading by example.
If we want kids to unplug, then we try to lead by example. Even though it’s sometimes unavoidable, we make an effort to reduce our time using technology in front of the kids. We make an effort to enjoy doing things together outside; riding bikes or taking a walk together. We talk about our surroundings and make observations. Sharing our love of nature will help foster our children’s connection with nature too.
- Avoid forming habits.
I have noticed when my kids do have screen time, they often want more. If they watch a show in the morning, they are asking again in the afternoon or the next morning. Alternatively, if we have a few days screen free they forget and don’t even ask to turn on the TV. It’s about breaking the habit. I try to remember this when I go to turn on the TV. Will it make my life easier or harder in the long run?
- Make inside less appealing.
Anyone who knows us knows my son loves Japanese Bullet Trains. He is obsessed. We purchased a track when were in Japan and it’s all he’s wanted to play with ever since. Now don’t get me wrong, train tracks aren’t a bad thing. They are great for planning, problem solving and many other skills. But it was making him want to spend less time outdoors. So sometimes we take the tracks outside with us, other times we take it to the grandparents for a week or two. With that gone, he gets back to wanting to play outside.
- Don’t be dictated by the weather.
We try not to let the weather dictate our plans. I am often surprised how we are the only ones at the park when there is only light rain. We try to remember the well known saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” (Alfred Wainwright, A Coast to Coast Walk).
If you can’t get outside there is always the option to bring the outside in. Think about how you can add natural elements to your child’s indoor play. Keep an eye on this blog and our Instagram for nature inspired play ideas and feel free to share yours using our hashtag #littlenatureplayers.