raisingkidswithlove

You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

A “Parenting Must”…outdoor play every day!


Thought this post was perfect in celebration of Earth Day.  The best way to instill a love of this earth in your child is to encourage experiencing the wonder of the earth.  Being outdoors results in a healthier child for so many reasons!  Get outside today, teach your child that this earth is theirs to love and take care of!

 

Such fun to be outside with kids discovering the world!  Loved meeting the cows at Trader’s Point Creamery!

Raising children can bring all kinds of questions and anxiety.  So often parents just wonder if “I am doing it right.”  I often tell parents that parenting with their “gut” is often the best, there are not many hard and fast rules, but there are a few “musts”.  On my “must list” would be car seats, immunizations, good sleep habits, lots of loving touch, teaching family morals, and loving discipline; but there really aren’t many rigid parenting rules.  After the last couple of days, I may add another “must” to my parenting list…allow your children to experience the outdoors.

Sounds like an odd “parenting must” doesn’t it?  The last couple of days I have been with my Toddler Time Groups from IU Health at one of my favorite places in the Indianapolis area, Trader’s Point Creamery, an organic dairy farm.  Watching Moms and children experience the farm, animals, and outdoors made me realize again how important it is for our children to simply get outside.

So often, outdoor play is put to the bottom of a “to do” list because of “more important” learning activities.  In our automated world, children are learning more and more utilizing computers, the newest and most educational toy, TV, and organized lessons.  None of these are wrong, but often because of our lifestyle playing outdoors is put at the bottom of the list.  Playing outdoors and experiencing nature is so beneficial for children physically, socially, and emotionally.

 Physical

Obesity is a growing problem, we read about it all the time.  I have questions daily about how much food and exercise is necessary for children.  Organized sports and exercise along with healthy eating will help the problem, but simple outdoor play is a great solution.  Children that are allowed to play freely outside burn more calories, build better muscles, strengthen bones, improve cardiovascular health and sleep better.  Hear that parents???  Sleep better!!  I am sure that the toddlers from our groups this week took great afternoon naps!!

Social/Emotional

Sit and watch your child outdoors.  The outdoors encourages discovery, logical thinking and reasoning.  Watch your child discover the ants under the rocks, watch the Mommy cow feed her calf, the bees pollinating plants…what a great way to learn…through experience.

Outdoor play also encourages children to appreciate the world in which they live.  Environmental consciousness comes from loving the outdoors and seeing how dependent we are on nature and what we can do to keep our world beautiful.

Outdoor play will help your child build confidence too.  Reaching out to touch the nose of that calf, getting close to the chickens, walking down a big hill alone, exploring just outside of your reach…all experiences that help your child realize that “I can do it!”

Sunshine and feeling good go together!  Exposure to light makes all of us feel better.  Being outside, even on a cloudy day, exposes us to natural light which is a key to feeling good.  Get yourself and your child out for some of nature’s “feel good medicine”.

So, I think I am adding another “parenting must” to my short list.  It doesn’t really take much work, and there doesn’t have to be a lesson plan built-in.  The toddlers who went to Trader’s Point Creamery the other day are not expounding on the benefits of organic farming, but there was benefit in allowing them to discover and experience.  Nature and the outdoors is not a push  button type of play but one of wonder and the unexpected. That sudden “moo” of the mommy cow that brought a jump first and a smile second was worth the trip. My advice?  Get your kids outdoors every day…it is a “parenting must”.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

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6 Comments

  1. I agree with all of these especially the “sleeping better” part. I noticed that when I let my kids go out and discover the world around them, they easily fall asleep and that they always sleep soundly. Aside from that, It’s very fun to look at them playing outside and checking out the things around them. It’s a great exercise not only for the body but for the mind as well. 🙂

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