Monday, 18 January 2021

GET OUTSIDE



I always recommend it anyway, but being outdoors really is the key to surviving lockdown if you have kids. Whether it’s getting outside for a walk, cycling, going to the park or even just moving their play from the front room to the garden, children are so receptive to an outdoor environment. 

River is generally a happy kid but there are days when he will be really irritable and unreasonable, scowling and sighing at the smallest of inconveniences, not knowing what he wants but wanting everything all at once and it just makes me want to bang my head against the wall. What I’ve learnt is that getting outside will always switch his mood; and in turn, mine. Even if it’s just 10 minutes helping me take out the recycling - he will stand and pick out every item and discuss it’s life story before putting it in the wheelie bin and he loves it. Sometimes all we need is that breath of fresh air to shake a bad mood and get us motivated. That’s if I ignore the smell of old milk bottles being flung around as he tells me how milk comes from a cows willy. Simple things like helping me put the washing out is always a great mood changer, he loves being given a job and it saves me bending down a lot which, considering I've currently got an ever growing preggo belly, is a big help. Although that task only works on the 4 days out of the year that the weather is good enough to hang washing out, but you get the idea. There are loads of learning opportunities within everyday tasks that you might not even think about ordinarily - even with the washing; you can colour sort, size sort, match socks and exercise fine motor skills using the pegs (just a disclaimer. I've tried, but this doesn't work on getting a 32 year old man in the mood to sort the washing). You can make a lot of everyday things fun and it doesn’t require too much effort, preparation or cost. Unlike us adults who have had the joy sucked from our souls thanks to a global pandemic; children can find wonder in the most simple things and a little imagination goes a long way. 


From my experience, sitting inside all day does nothing but incite boredom and before you know it, you’re ignoring your equally bored family and you’re 30 minutes deep into an Instagram scroll, looking through organisation “highlights” from people who live amongst only white and grey decor. (Why do people feel the need to buy Kilner jars just to decant the already packaged contents of their kitchen cupboards into them and then LABEL THEM? That is a sincere waste of anyones time.)


I’m a massive believer in making use of what you already have for an activity. I find that sometimes it can be a bit restrictive if you're worrying too much about what it looks like and the final “outcome” piece. I've found that for Rivers age, open activities that give opportunity for free-flow are much more chilled and usually keep their attention for a lot longer than a step-by-step activity. Making use of existing toys or using natural/recyclable materials from your home or things you find out on walks can provide you with everything you need for an engaging activity with your kid. You don’t need to overthink it. River loves his cars so we often take out his box of hot wheels and make tracks and parking spaces for them out of stuff we find in the garden. River also always asks Jason to make him an obstacle course out of whatever we've got lying around. Recently it's become a bit like watching an episode of SAS:Who Dares Wins but they're active and both love it so I turn a blind eye.


Obviously I still live in the real world where my house needs cleaning, dirty dishes need sorting, dinner needs cooking and general life admin creeps up. If you can’t entice them to help you with your jobs in-between activities  or they’re getting a bit too close to the bleach and sharp knives for your liking, there’s nothing wrong with leaving your kid to entertain themselves every now and again while you get stuff done. The Blippi songs imprinted onto my brain are proof of that. But I found that making an effort to use the free time I do have and doing something outside is so beneficial for everyone. 


I’m not saying it always goes to plan and it’s definitely not always a glorious time. Just this week we took River on a walk in an attempt to energise him a bit. It started very well but no amount of feigned enthusiasm was going to be enough and it ended with Jason carrying home a crying 3 year old, fresh out of a mud chamber, dragging a sit on tractor behind him. But the point is, it happened, we got a change of scene, we got the exercise and the fresh air and it was good for us whether it felt like it or not at the time. 


I’m not telling you what to do with your kids but I’m honestly 100 percent behind the idea that being outdoors alleviates a lot of the stresses that exist because of this lockdown malarkey and it can make your time stuck at home far more enjoyable for everyone. 

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