Wednesday 31 October 2018

Parenting - How To Get Children Outside More.

Whether you planned to have children or not, I think it's safe to say once our babies were born into the big wide world, we vowed we wouldn't do things with our children that we later went on to do. One of my friends vowed her children would never have a dummy, only to give in when her firstborn was two days old, another friend vowed her children would never participate in Trick'or'Treating, claiming it was a form of begging, another vowed her child would not eat sweets or fast food - only fruit and veg as snacks, and I vowed I'd never swear in front of my child.

It seems that me and my friendship group aren't alone in our vow making though, other vows parents seem to regularly make are I will never formula feed my baby, I will never co-sleep, I will not let my toddler use the iPad, I will never let my baby eat jars of ready-made baby food, I'll never give my child snacks to keep them quiet whilst shopping, I'll never use my finger to wipe dirt off my child's face, I'll never let them have a TV in their bedroom and I'll never let my child watch TV in general.

With the latter two of those vows, I'm sure the majority of us have a television set in our household, or some form of technology that plays videos - whether that's a phone, a tablet, a desktop PC, a laptop or even a gaming device, and I'm sure we've all let our children watch TV right? After all, a little bit of TV can be quite educational, and some screen time isn't worrying is it?

What is worrying is findings from a new study, that has revealed that by the age of seven, children will have spent two years and three months of their lives in front of a screen. More than half of that time is ‘mindless’ screen time – spent without family or friends, in solitary, screen-based activities. Conducted amongst parents in the UK and Ireland by Persil, the study reported that children spend more than twice as much time in front of screens than playing outside, a rather worrying statistic.

When I was a child, things were completely different, I understand the times are changing and I am one of those parents who've never allowed their child to play outside alone, however outside play doesn't have to be non-supervised, and adults can even join in the fun too. Persil, along with parents and experts recognise the importance of children playing and embracing dirt, and as such, they have been promoting the benefits of outdoor play for over a decade.

Sir Ken Robinson, the leading expert in human development suggests that parents should set agreed limits on screen time, and times when screens are put away altogether in favour of other activities, including mealtimes and play and recreation of other sorts depending on the age of the child. Below are five tips to help your family spend less screen time during the autumn season. 

1. Find an engaging way to limit screen time.

Why not create a brightly coloured rewards chart to allocate time slots on how much time is allowed behind a screen and to help plan outdoor activity for your kids on a daily basis. This is a fun and creative way to reward your kids with well-done stickers when they stick to the plan every day! By using reward charts and coloured stickers your kids will see the change as a positive one!

2. Encourage fun and creative activities with your kids
Don't be afraid to get messy – indoors or out. Find an activity your child really loves and enjoy the fun together! It could be as simple as making music out of garden twigs, or starting an arts and crafts session using conkers, pine cones and leaves you found in the park, or playing team games such as rounders’ or a treasure hunt. It is also a great way to bond together and encourage creativity. Inspiring your kids to be creative can stimulate their imagination and also reduce stress and anxiety.

3. Embrace the British weather, even in the colder months. We all know splashing in puddles, climbing up tree houses, swinging on swings and getting really muddy is a child’s dream of having fun! On a rainy day grab your wellies, a waterproof coat and go on an adventure with your kids at your nearest park.

4. Try incorporating real play into your child’s daily routine
Real play is unsupervised and self-initiated. Some ideas to get you started are playing with sand, painting, chasing games, role play, juggling, and hiding games. Giving your kids opportunities for active, physical, imaginative, and social play can have such positive benefits in kid’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development.

5. You don’t have to spend loads of cash.

Real play doesn’t have to be expensive. Sometimes it’s nice to just be with your kids so, join in with any outdoor activities, go for a stroll together and have a conversation about their interests or be imaginative and have an exciting bake-off competition together. The main resources are time, energy, companionship and laughter.

Do you have any tips of your own to share? If so please do leave a comment below.

Until next time,
Jada x

Disclosure: I was sent Persil samples in exchange for the above post however all opinions are my own


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