Asked & Answered: Getting Outside

All responses taken from our Facebook groups: Foster Parenting Toolbox and Kinship Parenting Group.

Is it a challenge to get your kids outdoors? We asked current foster, kinship and adoptive parents how they encourage outdoor activity and play time. Here’s their advice:

“Depends on the kid, personality, age, etc. sometimes I set specific outside times where the whole household goes outside, sometimes it’s on a checklist before screen time, sometimes I go shoot hoops, go for a bike ride play catch, sometimes I simply go out and start gardening and kids follow.”

“Go outside with them. Even if you’re just drawing with chalk, blowing bubbles or going on a little walk. Playing outside doesn’t have to be extremely active each time. You could even take lunch or dinner to a park and then play afterward.”

“My question would be – are you active outside yourself? Model, model, model. I take my kids hiking and biking quite frequently. I’m a runner, so they often bike while I’m running. We also go to the river and let them swim and play during the summer – and throw rocks in the winter/rainy months. They do nature camp in the summer as well – which is all outside. (My family is very active generally – sometimes my kids whine about that hike or bike ride, but I guarantee you, once we are outside the whining stops, the sibling rivalry stops, they engage in imaginative play, and we all get exercise).”

“Trampoline has been a great investment for us.”

“Go outside with them. Help make it habit forming. Try different activities with them.”

“The best way is to play with them outside, we also do earned screen time. You can set a time limit – like if you play outside for an hour, you get 30 minutes of screen time.”

“Open the door and say, ‘get on outta here’ lol! Seriously though, I just try to have fun things for them to play with outside. They like to explore and look for bugs. I even pitched a tent for them to play in.”

“We do family outdoor activities. Last weekend, we hiked up to a waterfall. They also do soccer and dance (dance is indoors, but it is physical activity).

On the weekends when they are lazy, I turn off the screens and tell them to go jump on the trampoline.”

“Turn off the TV. Encourage them to explore. I’ve paid my kids to sift rocks. I’ve given them a place to dig. Hang a swing in a tree. Build a playset; snag a free one off Marketplace. Setup a challenge: whoever can find the most varieties of leaves wins $ or ____. Whoever can snap a picture of the most species of bugs wins. The prize can be something like choosing what activities the family will do on a Saturday. Plan family walks. Find a public pond and bring a net to catch bugs or tadpoles or crawdads. Plan a morning to explore fossils at a local bridge or overpass/underpass. Buy some 1-inch webbing and string it up between trees and challenge your kids to slacklining. Setup a higher line for them to hold onto if necessary. Get a bunch of small logs and such and encourage them to build an outdoor Fairy town. Then plant flowers that attract butterflies. I could write a book!”

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