Finding Time for the Outdoors

Playing with toy dinosaurs outside.
Playing with toy dinosaurs outside.

We all get busy, and between school, homework, dinner and getting ready for bed, there isn’t always a whole lot of time for children to play outside during the work week. My oldest daughter just started kindergarten and even though her homework and after-school activities are pretty minimal at the moment, it has been an adjustment.

Despite our new routines there are a few things I do to make sure we always get outside every day:

  • Cook dinner in big batches, so we have more time outside and I can spend less time in the kitchen at least a few days a week
  • In general no screen time for the kids during the week
  • Make outside time part of our daily routine. As soon as the kids get back from school/babysitter we all go outside
  • Few after-school activities for the kindergartner, at least until it gets closer to winter
  • Do things outside that we normally do inside

For today’s Take a Child Outside Week challenge I’m going to focus on that last point. For most families, camping trips and other elaborate outdoor adventures are not an option during the work week. That’s what makes the small everyday moments that we can still squeeze into those busy days even more important.

These are some of our daily routines that get moved outside on a regular basis:

  • Eat dinner outside on the patio or, even better, pack a picnic and eat on a blanket on the grass. I have yet to meet a child that doesn’t like a picnic.
  • Let your children do their homework under a tree or in another favorite spot outside. Nature is calming and boosts concentration.
  • Bring out toys and art supplies that are normally used inside. Painting is an excellent outdoor activity and the change of scenery has a tendency to breathe new life into old toys.

Today, the girls decided they wanted to bring their toy dinosaurs outside. Some interesting – and obviously kindergarten-inspired – games immediately ensued. First the dinosaurs were involved in a food fight and then they were let out for recess. But when the paleo set failed to line up when the bell rang, the girls got irritated and proceeded to climb a tree. It was all good.

For more ideas on how to balance school and outdoor play, check out this post by Jessica from Bring the Kids.


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