It rained all weekend. My kids were initially very happy with that as it meant devices, movies and board games.
However, come lunchtime on Sunday they were climbing the walls. Literally. They were bickering and narky, antagonising each other (and me!). And they were trying to play boisterous games not meant for indoors. It was pandemonium.
I’m sure this is a familiar scenario for parents everywhere. Rainy days pre-kids were a dreamy, relaxing prospect. Curled up on the couch with a good book or movie, then maybe a nap or two. Bliss. Now a rainy weekend forecast gets parents everywhere groaning in anticipation of the cabin fever.
That’s because kids NEED to be active and run amok outside. It is essential to their physical and brain development. And, like adults, it’s also important for their emotional wellbeing, too.
The unfortunately reality is that, even on non-rainy days, the majority of kids are still not getting enough outside play. With a busy lifestyle fully of extra curricular activities and other commitments plus our love of devices keeping us indoors, kids don’t get the outdoor free time they need.
Even at school our kids’ movement is restricted. They sit for long periods to learn then have short recess times with heavily regulated activities (no playing before school, no running on concrete, no climbing, etc. etc.).
Experts say for optimal development kids need around THREE hours of unstructured outside play a day. Getting outside to adventure and explore allows our kids to foster valuable skills such as problem solving, creativity and natural curiosity.
All that climbing, running, jumping and tumbling helps their physical fitness and agility, building strong bones and muscles. Taking risks also helps problem-solving skills while fostering resilience and self-confidence.
Not to mention the benefits to the immune system by playing in the dirt and getting some Vitamin D.
It really is amazing that we need a reminder that kids need to get outdoors, considering it is where most of us spent our childhoods.
I’m not sure why our parenting culture has changed so much, but I know that next rainy weekend I’m going to let my kids dance barefoot in the rain and jump in the mud to their hearts’ content.