Getting outside for an hour everyday is easy when it is 65 degrees and sunny. We could spend all day outside on those days without complaint or any kind of struggle to find things to do. But days like today, days that are 39 degrees, drizzling to raining on and off all day and windy are hard days to get outside for an hour.
Chris got me the Green Hour book a while back and I loved it. I started making it a personal goal to get outside for an hour everyday. Sure we have missed some days or not lasted for a full hour but overall I think we have done pretty good.
I think it is partly because of this goal that I have created kids that INSIST on going outside. No matter what the weather is like. I know I have talked about this before but it occurred to me today that it might not be normal in other households for a three year old to come screaming into the bathroom while mom (me!) is in the shower "I NEED to play outside!". A complete meltdown followed. I just had to smile in the shower and after dealing with the bad behavior of the tantrum I then said that yes we would get outside.
SO, for other parents that might be interested in participating in the Green Hour Connection I thought I would share some tips about how to keep kids entertained in less than perfect weather.
- Take away the time requirement. Yes, it takes a long time to get toddlers dressed for wet weather. And yes, the time outside might actually end up being less than the time it took to get them dressed. You just have to change your midset and think of the whole experience as a great chance to learn and play. Combine that with the realization that even 10 minutes in fresh air can have great benefit for kids and adults and the struggle is worth it.
- Activities should be big and active. A rainy day may not be the best time to bring out the magnifying glass and bug box. If they are wet and cold doing something that will keep them active and help warm them up may keep them out longer. Things that are big hits at this house in the rain - kicking the soccer ball or other big ball around the yard, puddle jumping, biking, swinging and playing tag.
- Get the right gear. If you really want to be able to get out in the rain and you live in a place where it rains a lot spending a little to make those experiences more enjoyable might be worth it. Gear should/could include rain boots, a good gortex rain jacket, rain hat and kid sized umbrella. We only have the boots and jacket, but with the increased interest in getting outside I think getting the other gear is in our very near future.
- Prepare to use some energy. If you really want to make getting outside everday, no matter the weather, a priority be prepared to use considerably more energy in keeping your little ones happy in bad weather. Obvious right? But just how much more energy I would have to use surprised me. If I am excited about what we are doing, laughing and having fun then they will be too. The second my amusement lessens their's will too. I try to keep my energy up as long as I can but also change the activity up as much as possible which also helps.
- Keep the benefits in your mind! With all the other things I have mentioned it doesn't seem like much fun to take toddlers out in the rain BUT the benefits of outside time everyday are immense. Try to keep this quote in the back of your mind;
Mounting research demonstrates that, at this most critical time in life, interaction with nature affords children the pleasureable multisensory experiences that challenge their minds, invigorate their bodies, restore their spirits, and sharpen their focus. And, as we will explore, it is perhaps a parent's first and best medicine for addressing that trio of decidedly modern maladies endemic to childhood today: obesity, attention deficit, and media addiction. Green Hour, Todd Christopher, pg 3
I whole heartedly believe in the power of nature to heal what ails kids today. If I didn't I wouldn't be doing what I am doing. And I would love to see more parents put a bigger empahsis on getting their kids outside everyday.
The Nitty Gritty!
Need some more inspiration to get you motivated?
Join the Green Hour Connection at Adventure Tykes.
Check out the Green Hour Survival Guide at Go Explore Nature.