You want your kids to be happy and healthy? Encourage them to play outside!
This week during gun season of hunting, my husband recently shot his first deer. An 8 point buck! We had just dropped big brother off at school and got the phone call. So we had to go celebrate and see daddy’s prize deer. And the kids enjoyed adventuring in the woods.
These boys were occupied with climbing a fallen tree, hitting things with sticks, stepping into the creek (which they only did because I said not to), climbing a rock pile, and checking out the deer. Little was said, but I could see that their mood changed as they started down that first trail.
Meanwhile, I did what I enjoy. I spent their playtime capturing their pure character. I love taking photos of them playing or engaging in every day activities. Rather than capture images of my kids sitting still and cheesing, I know in the future that I will love to look back on the moments that make life so sweet.
Our family loves the outdoors. Like a lot. we spend our summer days pretty much living outside. And I love it for a couple of reasons:
- It keeps the mess outside. Toys, spilled drinks. Whole crackers… Miscellaneous sticky spots….
- We are all in better moods. Who knew what fresh air, sunshine, and a little physical activity can do for you?
- You can’t beat that sense of adventure indoors. This also leads to more creativity.
- My boys also tend to eat 10x better also. In the summer they eat like they haven’t eaten in a week!
- They might be dirty when they come in, but at least they are tired. That is priceless!
There is one thing I really want you all to take away from this. Let your children play outside for a minimum of 1-2 hours a day (if it’s not too cold or yucky out). As parents we are so busy working, paying bills, doing chores, conversing with other adults… This is one simple way to help your child to grow developmentally, improve moods, and create long lasting memories.
Plus if you’re a mom with a camera, it’s a win-win.
Outdoor play is simple and free. And better yet, busy kids are happy kids. Not to mention the health benefits!
What are some alternatives to outdoor play during rainy days or snow days?
Do your kids have too many toys?
One way we show our children love is through buying them toys. And it’s not all bad. It’s natural to give tangible gifts as signs of affection. What an easy way to brighten a small person’s day!
But how do you know if your kids have too many toys? What are their favorite toys? For our boys, cars, trucks, tractors, and trains. The rest of the toys tend to get thrown, scattered, and stepped on! OUCH!
My husband and I found this out on our parenting journey- toys have seasons. And in those seasons, kids have a few favorites that they tend to play with. Especially if it’s something new.
So what do we do when one toy seems to be in the end stages of it’s season? We buy more! Which is kind of nuts when you think about it.
Baskets. Boxes. Overwhelming heaps of toys. They go unnoticed. Sometimes lost. And we are the ones earning the money for these little collections that go untouched for some time.
I have 10 solutions for you! Here are some ways to give more variation and condense.
- Stick to birthdays and Christmas only. With the exception of small potty rewards (hot wheels, bubbles, stickers…).
- They see a cool toy at the store? “Not today sweetie. Add it to your wishlist.” They will decide what value the toy will have in the future.
- When kids are old enough to learn about how money works, they can earn a couple bucks for doing extra chores. Hard earned cash might not get spent so quickly.
- Gift-givers like you or grandparents can do non-toy gifts like movie theater gift card, science kits, arts and crafts kit, books, movies, snack bag, or some money to add to a college savings account. What other types of non-toy gifts would your kids love?
- Even ask birthday party guests to not bring gifts. They can still bring cards to show well wishes.
- Box up half of the toys that they don’t play with very often. Put these in storage. When they get bored again, just switch them out.
- Fill a donation box before the holidays. Maybe for a nonprofit organization. Or on a garage sale site for low cost or free. What would your kiddos give to someone in need?
- Toss out the toys that are badly damaged or broken. Plus audible ones with bad wiring. Happy meal toys can go too.
- Be particular. “Quality over quantity.” Like educational toys that encourage STEM learning or development. Some of our favorites are Fat Brain toys and Melissa and Doug toys.
- Avoid too many electronics, especially at an early age. These can be more addicting and then you end up needing to limit their screen time. Ya, try pulling them away from it now! YIKES!
Well, that’s that. Toys can really be a blessing to kids. It influences their learning and imagination. However, with overabundance often times comes waste. So moderation is key!
(Our John Deere Gator is one of our boys’ favorite toys, they take turns riding it several times a day).
Fat Brain Toys- https://www.fatbraintoys.com/index.cfm
Melissa and Doug toys- http://www.melissaanddoug.com/
John Deere Gator ride on- https://www.ruralking.com/john-deere-12v-kids-ride-on-xuv-gator-igod0063.html