Now that spring has come, resetting our children’s schedules and outdoor routines can feel refreshing. We receive this energy that comes with spring, which is almost a revive and reset that comes with back to school—the need to clean and organize, reset schedules for work and sports.
Outdoor time is not a new topic to the blog, as it is a massive part of our “brain health rainbow.”
Research continues to support the benefits of kids having downtime, fresh air, and an increased connection with the sun and ground. It increases their endorphins and allows space for them to organize themselves and reset after a long day of screentime or schooling-especially during a pandemic.
It can be surprisingly challenging to get children outside, especially if your child is more of a screen watching or rigid person. The change and feeling of doing something new may be faced with increased defiance or arguing with them. However, the irony is the more they are outside, the more energy they will use up, and the less time they will spend arguing in the long term.
Start having reflecting conversations with your children, ‘you seem calmer coming inside’ or ‘I am wondering how you feel in this fresh air..’ It also helps to model and engage them; if you are forcing them outside, but if you are staying inside sitting on your phone-they will see that. Go outside yourself, engage with the kids, or get some work done; even for 20 minutes, you can feel the benefit.
Consider making a rule of 1:1 balance, so for every hour they are on a screen, they need to commit to an hour outside, or 20 minutes, etc. The older they get, and the more self-awareness they develop, they will start to connect between being outside and feeling better.
Try walking to school if possible or having them walk home. If you have animals, encourage a family walk to take care of the pets. The more you have a routine and a schedule, as we have said before, it helps take some arguing out and then becomes a habit.
Family activities and connections will also make great memories. Try helping your children create and play outside. Perhaps start a family garden, work on chores outside together, or take up an outdoor hobby such as hiking or fishing. Please encourage your children to try new things and get out of their element. Here are some links from amazon that you can use!
One of the benefits that we heard a lot during the beginning of lockdown was the amount of time families enjoyed and the slowness that has come. Also, stores that had bikes, tents, and swingsets were all sold out or back-ordered as we all tried to navigate being home together, don’t let all that go as thing “return”. As things continue to, god-willing, open up again, try to connect with that slowness you enjoyed. Look for negotiating a new balance for your family, one that facilitates a calmer and healthier brain.