Parents, Play With Your Kids!
Many Benefits for Families that Play Together Outdoors
By James M. Bullock
Hey, we all know that life can get pretty hectic and what was once an occasional busy week or two throughout the year has turned into a nonsensical 365- day deluge of over-scheduled insanity spending time with people you barely know in places that you would rather not be (for the most part!). So, it should come as no real surprise that one of the many things that inevitably suffer is the time that family members spend doing meaningful activities together.
Without question, the investment in whole-family time has declined significantly and, what’s even more damaging to our kids, families and the environment is the reduced time parents and their kids spend doing things together outdoors. There is an old Chinese Proverb that says “A Family in Harmony Will Prosper in Everything”. As you develop your family’s outdoor exit strategy, it is important to get everyone involved whenever possible. Try to see it as a family play date.
Sure, kids need to learn to and greatly benefit from independent play as it nourishes imagination and creativity. In addition, children often times prefer to do things with other kids because, quite frankly, most adults have forgotten how to really play. Why? Parents and caregivers can easily find themselves in the familiar role of family Sherpa lugging the kids(and anything else that can be squeezed into the back of a mini-van) from one place to another, perhaps a team coach or simply cheering on the sidelines as their child participates in an organized activity –without question, all very important support functions. However, adults can better connect with their own kids when they learn to ignite the inner child within themselves.
When was the last time you actually rolled in the grass and got your hands and your clothes really dirty with your kids? Next time you go to the park, just don’t push them in a swing, get on the swing next to them and fly together! Installing a basketball hoop in the driveway is a great idea but try challenging your child to a friendly game of HORSE, Around the World and little on-one-one as this can turn an ordinary driveway into Madison Square Garden!