This post is sponsored by the Voice of Play.
Is it me, or is it stuffy in here?
As a blogger, I feel like I’m constantly indoors with a screen in front of my face. It’s especially easy for that to be true this time of year, when the weather is not-so-ideal and sickness is going around.
My family and I live in Oregon, where fall and winter seem to be one big season of dark, wet, and cold.
Where we live, rain gear is the staple of everyone’s wardrobe.
Because it’s so dark and gloomy during these months, it would be so easy for us to spend all of our time indoors. I admit it’s tempting to let the kids watch TV and lay on the couch when it’s so cold and wet out.
But my family values our time outdoors, and as someone who studied child development extensively, I value any time the kids spend away from technology.
That’s because I know how important play is to each and every child’s development.
While it’s especially true that younger children need the most play, all kids need to play. Even we adults need to get out and play! It’s not only a way to get exercise and fresh air, it’s a way to learn.
That’s right! Play is one big learning experience for children. It’s not just fun – it’s an important part of healthy development.
Need the science to prove it?
When playing, children develop muscle and learn how to control their bodies. They develop fine motor skills (the skills they need to use small movements, like when tying a shoe) and gross motor skills (skills needed to make big movements).
Also, physical activities help develop the lungs, improve bone density, and develop the heart. Regular physical activity, even in the form of play, can help prevent obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol later in life. You can learn more about the benefits of play here.
Guess what else play has an impact on?
It’s also important for social and emotional development. Why? Because when children play with one another, they learn collaboration and cooperation skills. They can also build confidence by seeing what their bodies can do.
So play and physical activity aren’t just good for tiring out your kids, moms!
Now that you know how important it can be, don’t be afraid to turn off the TV and get outside!
Here’s how to enjoy outdoor play this winter (even if the weather isn’t sunny and 75!):
- Invest in cold weather gear appropriate for your geographical area. We hardly ever have snow in our area, but waterproof gear is a must. Keeping the kids dry keeps them playing longer and more often.
- Plan something fun to get the kids excited. Something as simple as taking a ball to the park can do the trick!
- Bring an old towel with you to wipe off any wet swings or slides.
- Try going somewhere new – finding a new park or recreational area can be exciting!
- Keep it simple – most kids are content playing with sticks and rocks if you let them!
- Start a new holiday tradition. Holidays are normally filled with food and a lot of sitting. Start an annual hike or after-meal walk. You can also do a fun obstacle course or physical challenge! My family has a “silly Olympics” outdoors after the Christmas meal.
Of course, there are a lot of other places to go than a park. Since we live in Oregon, we have hikes, lakes, and rivers galore. Find somewhere new in your area! Our family loves to go fishing or hiking and have a small fire. The kids get to run and play. Most of the time, our kids are happy just to get to play in the mud and throw rocks into the water.
And let’s not forget about puddle stomping! Here’s my daughter stomping her heart out on our last hike.
Who cares if your boots are on backwards!? Go play outside!
Find out more about how play can benefit your family at The Voice of Play.