Mom Knows Best : You and Your Children Need More Nature In Your Lives

Sunday, June 18, 2017

You and Your Children Need More Nature In Your Lives


Nature deficit disorder. In a world that’s so full with medical jargon, it seems like just another made-up problem designed to make us worry more than we should. But it’s a term that really rings true to the worries that a lot of parents have - and they’re not exactly unwarranted concerns. Simply put, a lot of parents are worried that their children aren’t getting out of the house enough. Not only that but when they do get out of the house, it’s largely in a tech-heavy, urban setting - something far-removed from the green spaces we imagine when we think of the phrase “getting out of the house”!

So what’s causing the problem?

Why are children not getting out quite as much as they used to? The usual suspects are the new technologies we’re seeing creeping into our homes. Better televisions, smartphones, laptops, faster Internets, more powerful games consoles… these are the things that a lot of people blame when it comes to this problem. The argument seems to be that kids don’t see much need to get out of the house these days. Many adults had more reason to get out of the house back when they were kids; there were fewer things to distract them indoors!


But seeing the problem also does something that you may not have noticed; it subtly shifts the blame towards kids and technological advances. It’s a “kids these days” argument. So where should we turn our attention when it comes to this problem? Ultimately, the issues may lie with a cultural problem among parents. If kids aren’t getting out of the house, then this is largely the doing of parents. It could be that kids aren’t being allowed to explore all that much because parents are scared of allowing this. It could then be argued that parents should be spending more time outside with their kids - which, in turn, highlights that a lot of adults aren’t getting outside as much as they should, either!

Physical health

Most will point out that the biggest problem with kids not getting out enough is the resultant lack of exercise. While there are also a number of other facts and correlations to consider, it does need to be highlighted that childhood obesity is a growing problem, with an estimated nine million children aged 6-19 being overweight or obese.

Kids should be getting at least an hour of physical play on a daily basis - and this isn’t easy for them to achieve if they’re not getting outside enough. But it’s not just physical health you should be concerned about; getting out into nature can help your kids maintain good psychological health, too. And it’s not just as simple as “exercise helps mood” - although that’s certainly true!


Mental health

Fresh air, the sunshine, and green spaces are absolutely amazing for mental health. This applies to both kids and adults. In fact, kids who have been suffering from problems such as low mood and ADHD should definitely be getting outdoors more. The outdoors has a calming and mood-boosting effect on both young and old; it’s just a case of making sure people with these problems, who are less likely to want to go outside, are given the proper encouragement to do so.

Getting outside more often can help mental health in other ways, too. Outdoor play has been shown to help with long-term creativity. Because of indoor play, rife as it is with technology, is restrictive and structured, it doesn’t encourage a lot of exercise of the imagination. Outdoor play, on the other hand, is much more free and less structured. It also stimulates more senses; that video game your kid is playing may seem pretty stimulating (and it actually might be in a very positive way), but the outdoors stimulates sight, sound, smell, and touch.


Bringing the right equipment

If you consider the fact that fresh air and the sunshine can have tremendous effects for your kid, then it becomes clear that it’s not just about exercise. So if you want to get outside and go to a park to make sure your kids are seeing some more green space, then you don’t have to wait until they’re loaded with energy for exercise. If they want to play on handheld games consoles or read a book, then why not encourage them to do so outside? As long as the weather is nice,  it will be so much better for them than doing those things indoors.

If you’re all heading out somewhere quite a distance away from home, then you should ensure you and the kids don’t get bored or frustrated. You should all want to spend as much time as possible outside. You’ll have to take several things into consideration here. If they’re particularly young, you’ll have to consider decent strollers; you can find a round-up of the best sit and stand strollers in the market. Making sure you bring water and snacks can help prevent everyone wanting to head home because they’re hungry and thirsty! Bringing a ball or a frisbee, or having some other game in mind that everyone can play, is also essential to help prevent boredom.


Day or night

When parents think of getting outdoors with their kids, they usually think exclusively of mornings and afternoons. This tends to mean that they’re only thinking about weekends. This makes sense in many ways; a lot of parents feel pretty pressed for time during the weekdays. But it also means you and your kids might not be missing out on more great experiences that can be had in the late afternoon or even the evenings.

You shouldn’t dismiss the idea of going out at night with your kids; you just have to take some extra measures to ensure everyone’s safety. Making sure you bring flashlights and that everyone stays insight is, of course, essential. Simply going for a walk when it’s dark introduces you to new sights; there’s the nocturnal wildlife to consider, as well as the stars. There could even be several nighttime activities set up by your local community. Going out with your family at night is definitely underestimated, and can help your kid get a little more light exercise to tire them out before bed.

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