10 outdoor activities to give a try this week

Starting today we here at Outsidemom have joined

Frankly, we’re thrilled, and have already begun the initiation (i.e. Lindsey is on a field trip all day, and I’m headed outside for spring cleaning just as soon as I hit the Publish button!).

So what is Screen Free Week?  In our own words, it is a week to remember that not all of life revolves around the many digital gadgets in our lives: phones, tvs, computers, dvd players, video games, etc.  It is a time to ween ourselves, even if just a little bit, from hours spent sedentary and vegetative with something that engages a little more of our brains and bodies.  I love that screen free week is in the spring, when being outside is so thrilling anyway.  It makes setting my apps and programs and tv schedule aside that much easier.  So what will we be doing during screen free week?  Who knows…

But here are some possibilities!

1)  An overnight camping trip and the first weenie roast of 2013.  Our bags were packed for this months ago…

2)  Flying a kite.  Is there anything better?

3)  Watching for spring wildflowers, maybe pressing a few, or telling scientists what’s blooming in the empty field nearby.

4)  Pulling out the summer water toys and the kiddie pool.

5)  Checking out the wildlife in the pond behind our house.

6)  Putting up some new birdfeeders.

7)  Practicing our biking skills… and maybe hooking up the old trailer bike.

8)  Going on a hike… one that the kids plan, with a map for their little hands.

9)  Taking a trip to the library and reading in the backyard (here’s our favorites for beginner, intermediate, and advanced readers).

10)  And, though it isn’t ambitious or life-changing, I’m dropping Jeopardy for an extra half an hour in the backyard throwing the tennis ball for my doggies.  The red-winged blackbirds are back, the sun is the perfect warmth about then, and the doggies love me so much more just for being outside with them.  I sit in my husband’s luxury camp chair with some cold lemonade and am truly content.  At 9.5 months pregnant, this activity appeals to me more than anything else these days.

A final thought or two… it is easy for adults to see the inherent value of stepping away from the screen.  Children have a harder time figuring out why you’re punishing them by taking away their precious time with their favorite video games.  Make it a celebration, and make the incentives for not being in front of the screen as great as the screen itself.  Cut back on their time slowly–ten minutes a day and by the end of the week that’ll be an hour!  Invest in a few new outdoor kid gadgets–some new toys that can only be used outside.  Whatever you do, don’t use screen time as a reward (i.e.,” if you go outside for an hour, I’ll let you play on the computer for 15 minutes“).  Keep the two ideas separate.  Also, keep it simple.  The backyard, a tree in the park, the zoo are all fine outdoor options.  You don’t have to drive across the state to a campground to enjoy screen free week.

And finally, when they cry and beg and make your life miserable for having pulled the plug, remember the reasons you’re doing this.  Screen-free time is one of the healthiest things you can do for your children.  It shows them what you really value, it lowers their risk for a number of diseases (both now and when they’re adults) linked to obesity, and it teaches them how the world actually works and engages parts of their brain that screen-time simply can’t reach.  (Here’s some extra articles about the television and brain development if you’re interested.)

See you next Monday!

One Comment

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  1. So glad you are doing this! I TOTALLY bombed it and forgot until today! GAH! We will be unplugging too more than usual throughout the week, but the blog won’t be quiet :/
    I will be sharing your article!!! :)


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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