The Benefits of Outside Play--Not Just for Kids
It’s mid-March, but the sun is shining in Northeast Arkansas. I am longing to be outside. It won’t be long until spring and days filled with afternoons outside in the sun. Playing outside is good for kids, but it’s also great for moms, too.
How it Helps Kids
If your kids are like mine, they need to be outside some days. I have three little ones age 4 and under. They need the sunshine. They need to run and be free and let out some energy. I am amazed at how much better our afternoon can go when we get outside and play.
Sunshine gives your little ones their much needed vitamin D. Sunlight can boost any kid’s mood. It also allows for creative and imaginative play. While I would like to have a swing set someday, the small amount of outside toys we have currently will suffice. My 2-year-old loves to push the baby dolls in the grocery cart and my active 4-year-old is a whiz on her little scooter and Barbie trike.
It doesn’t take much to entertain kids outside. Investing in some simple toys like bubbles or balls can entertain my kids for hours. In the summer, we break out the water hose and put on our swimsuits. Even when you aren’t outside for long, you still need to be protected from the sun by sunscreen or UV-rated clothes. I like the California Baby sunscreen stick. It’s easy to apply and gets the job done.
Playing outside also tires out my little ones. Not that I want them to be worn out, but it is a nice bonus when they’re tired and sleep super well after an afternoon outside. Exercise is also an added benefit of outside play. Being outside for my little newest addition is also beneficial. The stroller or Tula carrier are always on hand for playtime. The sun’s warmth and peaceful breezes soothe her and spark her interest. She also loves to watch her older siblings play. My kids tend to get along better outside, too. It’s like they can sense the peace.
How it Helps Moms
Being outside is FREE entertainment! Drive around or look online if your current park is getting stale. Finding a new park or playground nearby is like getting new toys! Even if it's just for half an hour, watching little ones entertaining themselves is totally worth it.
Parks and natural spaces are also one of the few places you can let your kids learn natural consequences. There's nothing they can break, and parks are generally quiet during the weekday, so there's usually no one they can hurt, including themselves. (You may seek out a fenced area for more adventurous toddlers.) Give yourself a break from the exhausting task of making your toddler behave in socially acceptable ways and having to say "No!" or "Don't..." every few seconds. Just follow them passively while they explore. Sometimes you need a break to appreciate the amazing natural curiosity that is making your life very, very hard right now.
Being out in the sunshine can reset my mood and attitude easily. If I sit and watch the birds or listen to the peaceful sound of the wind, I just feel better. It helps me to see my kids happy, too, and not fighting over a toy. Outside time also allows me to be active. Somedays I feel like I can’t find time for exercise. We go for walks often and that helps me stay moving. Outside play also helps me escape things that capture my attention too often inside my home, like my cell phone. (Yes, I am sad to admit that.)
So get outside mommas! Take your kiddos on nature walks, play with them, and just soak up the warmth of the sun. You will be glad you did!
Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of three in Northeast Arkansas where she is sitting inside with the curtains open soaking up the sun on this cold winter day.