Thank you to One2One Network and CLIF Kid for sponsoring our big playdate!
When I was little I would spend my summer days outside playing with the neighborhood kids either splashing in the pool, playing jailbreak, or riding our bikes up and down the sidewalk. We were always coming up with new games, which made our days fun and interesting. Our parents would have to drag us into the house when it got too dark out to play.
Times have really changed. Now kids are either glued to their electronic devices or are trying to balance school work, sports, and extracurricular activities. During the school season, our schedule is so rushed. My boys will get home from school, gobble up a snack, finish their homework, and then we are out the door to that evening’s activities. By the time they have some free time they just want to veg out, which I totally understand.
The problem with structured activities is that it does not stimulate problem solving and creativity and there’s nothing like child-driven play.
Some days I have to make my kids go outside, but you know what? Once they are out in the fresh air, they have a blast and don’t stop running. It’s so important to keep them active, allow them to use their imaginations, and interact with other children to inspire creative play.
Here are a few of my tips for encouraging your kids to get outside more often:
1. Lead by example. This is by far the most important one. Your kids need to see you outside having some fun. I love having a catch with my boys or swinging on swings. I find that after dinner is a great time to go outside and play. It’s not as hot and usually by then my husband is home to join us. We’ll either hang out in the backyard or head over to the park for an hour or so.
2. Change up the location. Keep it fun and interesting for the kids. We love checking out new parks in the area. Each week we’ll pick a different place to explore or use a resource like Jersey Family Fun to find some hidden gems. When choosing a park there are a few important things I look for:
- Shade – a must with kids on hot days.
- Bathrooms – some have port a potties and others have actual bathrooms (a plus). Make sure to check out how close they are to the actual playground.
- Tables and seating – perfect for lunches and a snack break.
3. Make it social. My boys are always asking to play with their friends from school, so invite them over or have everyone meet you at a park. The kids will be so excited that this will lead to a lot of spontaneous play.
4. Bring fun toys. I always have my trunk packed with a few toys to keep the kids busy and playing. A few items that are fun for kids of all ages are;
- Sidewalk chalk
- Balls (bouncy balls, soccer balls, football, etc.)
- Hula hoops
- Jump ropes
- Lawn games
- Sand toys
The key is keeping it simple and let them use their imaginations.
5. Getting dirty and sweaty is ok. They are kids. Let them run around, get dirty, and have some fun. I think the dirtier my boys are the happier they feel.
6. Keep them hydrated. Kids will never stop to drink, it’s just a fact. About every half hour, I will call the kids over to sit down for a few minutes and get a drink. If they don’t drink then they can get dehydrated, which can lead to fatigue and a headache. The key is heading this off before it happens.
Tip: Bring a small cooler with ice to keep the drinks nice and cold.
7. Set up a snack station. All of the running around makes kids hungry and hungry kids can lead to grumpiness. I like to bring along healthy snack options that are easy for them to eat. For the event, CLIF Kid provided us with some lots of ZFuit and ZBars. These snacks do not contain high fructose corn syrup, synthetic preservatives, or artificial flavors.
CLIF Kid recommends that children refuel every three hours to give them the energy they need to keep playing.
The CLIF Kid Zbar is an organic baked whole grain snack made with a nutritious blend of complex carbohydrates, three grams of fiber, and three grams of protein to maintain kids’ energy.
The CLIF Kid Zbar Protein is a nutritious and delicious snack made with organic whole grains and 5 grams of protein for kids’ growing bodies.
The CLIF Kid Zfruit (my favorite!) is a tangy twisted fruit rope that is an excellent source of vitamin C and doesn’t need to be washed, cored, seeded, cut or refrigerated before eating – making it easy for kids to eat organic fruit snacks anytime, anywhere.
We also had some fruit on hand and the kids gobbled that up!
Everyone had a great time. The kids played for over two hours (we couldn’t get them to stop) and not one of them asked for their digital device!
CLIF Kid wants kids to be kids, and encourages families to feed their adventure and discover new frontiers in the great outdoors—parks, backyards and city sidewalks. To demonstrate their commitment to play, CLIF Kid created an online Hub to inspire outdoor experiences that will encourage kids (and parents) to get outside and have fun.
How do you encourage outside play for your family?
For more fun ways to spend time outside, check out these ideas:
- 4 Kid-Friendly Ideas for Backyard Fun
- 8 Ways to Have Fun in Your Own Backyard
- 50 Ways to Explore Nature with Your Kids
- 60 Outside Summer Activities for Kids