How to Convince Your Kids to Enjoy Playing Outdoors When It’s Cold
As a parent, you’ve noted time and time again that your children are growing up in a world entirely different than the backdrop to your childhood. For one thing, they have a myriad of electronic devices to choose from for entertainment — sometimes, the pull to play with them keeps kids from exploring other avenues. You already know it can be challenging to convince your brood to play outside instead, although, once they do, they end up having a great time.
This is especially true in winter when the cold weather inspires us to head indoors — and inspires kids to reach for the nearest device to keep them busy. So long as the wind chill is 32 degrees and above, it’s safe for them to play outside. In colder temperatures, they can still head outdoors, so long as they splice their treks outdoors with time inside to warm up. All you have left to do is convince them to head outside.
Here’s how to do it:
Plan an Activity
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do outside. In fact, the change in weather and landscape gives you and your children so much more to explore. As such, there’s a seemingly endless list of activities to plan for your kids, so they learn to love wintertime play.
Start by using the weather to your advantage. Is it snowing? If so, your children might enjoy…
- Building a snowman or snow fort
- Learning to ski or snowboard, if you can get away for the weekend
- Gathering the most crucial ingredient to make snow cream
Even if there’s no snow around, you can inspire your children to head outside by…
- Leading a nature walk
- Watching for wintertime birds
- Inventing a scavenger hunt
- Heading to a new playground
- Walking to see neighbors’ holiday lights
Of course, these are just a handful of the many ways you can help usher your brood outdoors. With you at the helm, they’re more likely to try it out.
Give Kids the Tools For Outdoor Play
An outdoor space devoid of any toys won’t do much to inspire outdoor play. So, if you have the means, you might consider outfitting your backyard with a playground so that your children want to go outside and play with it (although I would recommend doing this before the snow comes).
Of course, not everyone has the time or money to erect a playground in their yard. Still, you can arm your kids with toys that make outdoor play even more fun. So, consider adding bikes, athletic balls, sidewalk chalk, skates, and more to your children’s collection of goodies. When it’s snowing, be sure they have sleds, as well as warm jackets, snow boots and waterproof gloves for snowball-throwing.
Be Positive About the Weather
As grown-ups, we often grumble about cold weather — why didn’t we decide to raise our families in the tropics? Unfortunately, your kids will pick up on your cold-weather negativity, which will have them choosing indoor play instead of going outside.
If you lead by example, your kids will be more willing to spend time outside. Bundle everyone up properly, so there are no complaints about being cold. You might want to bring along warm beverages, too, depending on how old your kids are. Then, show off your chipper demeanor as you all head outside — your kids will follow suit.
Make It a Group Activity
Children are social beings, which means they’ll love going outside with a friend in tow. You have to slowly introduce your kid to these types of playdates of course, and experts suggest you start by inviting only one friend at a time, so no one feels left out. But once your growing child gets into the swing of playdates, they’ll love having a few pals over — especially if it means playing outside together. You can come up with a game plan for snow days with other moms in your neighborhood, or if you aren’t totally snowed in, you could schedule a play date with other kids in daycare or class.
Of course, you can’t call in a playdate every day of the week, so make sure other characters in your child’s life understand the importance of outdoor play and are willing to take part in it, too. This means everyone from babysitters to daycare teachers to grandparents know that your kids should get out and enjoy the fresh air throughout the day.
Finally, you can inspire your kids to head outdoors by joining them, and we don’t just mean to supervise. By playing outside with your kids, whether it’s winter or summer, you’ll be building memories together that none of you will ever forget. So, bundle up and don’t be shy. You can play tag, sled and build a snowman like the best of them, and your kids will be ecstatic, too. Most importantly, though, they’ll learn to love the outdoors because you showed them how — and that’s what it’s all about.
Jennifer Landis the writer and blogger behind Mindfulness Mama. She’s a proud mama and wife who writes about healthy living, fitness, yoga, and parenting. She loves peanut butter, drinking tea, distance running, and Doctor Who. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELanids.
Here’s a great infographic that shows the importance of being outside and includes tips to unplug. Being outdoors is so important in the winter to maximize your exposure to daylight.