One simple idea to ensure your kids have a happier, healthier life today and tomorrow: outdoor fun times! Join them outside to share the joy today and build a better future for the whole family.
Scientists and nature lovers agree: spending time outside makes people happier and healthier.
But it’s not just about your happiness today. If you have children, then it’s also about their well-being in the future. And sharing nature with your children today, may even lead to better family relationships when they’re all grown up with kids of their own.
How Outdoor Kids Are Healthier and Happier
Playing and adventuring in nature has a positive impact on developing “little humans” in different areas.
The Mind: The great outdoors confronts children with opportunities for exploration, discovery and problem solving. As their brain develops, so does their curiosity and confidence. Important trades for a successful life.
The Body: Spending time being physically active in the fresh air boosts the immune system, builds muscles, improves flexibility and helps develop fine motor skill. As their bodies get stronger, so does their desire for physical activities. Important aspects of a healthy life.
Heart and Soul: Witnessing the cycles of nature helps children understand and connect to the balance in life. Sharing outdoor fun with parents, siblings, and friends brings joy and a sense of connection. Outside play is much freer than indoor play: with less rules or restrictions (e.g., no “inside voice”). As children make all these connections to people, nature, joy and their own free selves, they keep negative feelings at bay and learn natural coping mechanisms. Important mindsets for a happier life.
Beyond Themselves: Children who spend a lot of time in the outdoors build stronger relationships to nature and other living things. As they learn to appreciate nature and others, they may become environmentalists and advocates. They turn into the kinds of people who help make the world a Happier Place.
Why You Should Spend Time WITH Your Kids in Nature
Just opening the door and telling your kids to “get out and stay out” may lead to some of the above mentioned benefits. But if you really want to reap all the rewards, you should spend some quality time with your children in the great outdoors.
One of the most effective ways for parents to teach their children anything is to lead by example. If they see you having fun in nature, they’ll want to do the same.
All the adventuring together is a great bonding experience for your family today. It also builds a strong base for your future relationship.
When you take your kids outdoors, the whole family will create shared memories that will last into adulthood – bringing you continued joy and stories to tell. And the childhood fun will inspire future fun together! With all those shared experiences growing up, it’s only natural that, as adults, your kids and you will still want to do things outside together, maybe now including the grandchildren…
Ideas for Outside Fun with Children and Tweens
Don’t worry. You don’t have to climb a 14er with your kids or sail around the world together. Here are a few fun things to do when you take your kids outdoors:
- Go for a walk in your nearest park, along a trail or just around the neighborhood.
- Explore playgrounds, parks and trails in other neighborhoods. How about making a list to check off?
- Give your kids chalk, jump rope, a ball, skateboard… and show them how you used to play in a time before smart devices.
- Plan the next playdate out in nature, instead of at somebody’s house. Bring a ball, rope or…
- Sow or plant flowers together – in your yard or on the balcony. Even better than flowers: strawberries!
- Start a nature notebook together, in which you record your observations (e.g., types of birds, flowers, etc.)
- Collect and press flowers.
- Create a photo album together that features your kids’ nature photos.
- Organize a scavenger hunt, which includes finding natural landmarks and items.
- Instead of dinner in front of the TV: put together a picnic and watch the sunset together!
- Get up early and watch the sunrise together.
- Teach your kid how to fish, ice skate, swim… Don’t know how: then learn together!
- Build a tree house, a fort or a tent together – sized for humans or perfectly sized for dolls and action figures.
- Spend the night in a tent… in the backyard.
- On your next vacation, schedule at least one day for a nature exploration.
- Next level: make your next vacation a hiking, camping, boating or cycling vacation.
Benefits of Spending Time out in Nature (For All Ages)
There are many studies (and even more articles) going into detail about the benefits of spending time outdoors. Here are just a few quick upsides of outdoor fun times:
Spending time in nature is good for our mental health.
It’s de-stressing and helps against sadness, anger, depression and anxiety.
Witnessing the cycle of nature (e.g., sunset/sunrise, fall foliage/spring blooms, tides) provides hope.
Gazing at the scale of nature (e.g., giant mountains, ancient trees) helps put our own problems in perspective.
Also, the beauty of nature brings joy (e.g., rainbows, butterflies, puppies!)
No matter how active you are outdoors, there will be physical benefits.
Studies have shown nature walks improve short-term memory, and outdoor interactions increase brain function.
Being in nature is thought to be rejuvenating and boost your creative abilities and focus.
Nature fun times can help lower blood pressure and improve the immune system.
Physical activity outdoors leads to stronger and more flexible bodies.
And more sunshine, means more Vitamin D. Good stuff!
Yup, it’s pretty obvious: take your kids outdoors and YOU will be happier and healthier, too.
Further Reading to Inspire You to Take Your Kids Outdoors
- Get Happier in 3 Simple Steps: Take a Break. Go Outside. Have Fun.
- Why Kids Need to Spend Time in Nature
- 5 Reasons Why I’m Raising Outdoor Kids
- Residential green space in childhood is associated with lower risk of psychiatric disorders from adolescence into adulthood
- How can a family function better? Get outside together
- Get Outdoors: Rediscovering Nature With Your Family
- Parents Must Lead By Example
- It’s official — spending time outside is good for you
- Being outside can improve memory, fight depression, and lower blood pressure — here are 12 science-backed reasons to spend more time outdoors
Let’s inspire each other!
Please leave a comment below: Tell us about your outdoor fun times with your family – your parents, children, siblings… Or whatever else you’d like to add to the conversation.
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About the photos: the black and white photo shows siblings Luci and Asterix Westphal with their mother, Maria, in the early 1980s. They’re about to take off on a road trip into the Harz Mountains in Germany. Photo by Günter Westphal.
The other “people photo” is of Luci and Maria in 2019 after a wonderful long winter beach walk in Florida. While this selfie is not a great photo (ugh, the hair!), it captures the catalyst for this entire post: Maria raising Luci with an appreciation for nature and having fun outdoors together. Of course, that appreciation eventually led to the launch of Happier Place. Vielen Dank, Mami!
The nature photos Luci took in Colorado.