Getting Your Preschooler To Spend Time Outdoors
Well folks, it’s official. Despite what the groundhog might’ve said six weeks ago, spring has definitely sprung—and for those of us in southern California it’s sprung in a big way. Last weekend we were hit with a heat wave, which even as I type, is still stifling the outside air. Our last weekend of winter was spent in ninety-degree, dry, allergy-inducing heat. Now for those of you not in southern California, you may be rolling your eyes, and wondering why this is such a big deal. To you I say, I understand. Well, kind of, in all honesty while I was walking around the mall the other day, looking at all of the bathing suits and shorts, I couldn’t help but reminisce on that one real week of winter we had. But that was it, one.
With the sun shining bright, and the winter gloom quickly disappearing, the urge to spend time outside is greater than ever. No longer do we need to bundle up and brace the chill (or in my case sixty degree weather—brrr), but shorts and flip-flops are calling our names. But what about for our kids? In a world where the web and iPhones rule our lives, the inclination to get outside and get some sun has dwindled greatly.
Is Your Child Addicted To Technology?
No longer do kids jump out of bed on spring break eager to go meet their friends, but they reach for their phones and start searching through their Instagram, SnapChat, or Facebook.
Thankfully, preschoolers rely a great deal more on their parents to get places than the average ten-year-old does, but the urge to pick up an iPhone is still there. I can recall several times where I’ve been out to dinner with family and watched my cousin’s preschooler reach for his dad’s phone and consequently glue himself to it for the remainder of dinner. Not to mention, that while working as a server for eight years, I watched this evolution first hand as kids went from coloring at the dinner table, to sticking in their earphones while their parents put a movie on their iPad for them. In fact, there are actual restaurants now where you can rent an iPad to keep your kid occupied and from interacting at the dinner table. So what do we do?
For starters look at the five telltale signs that your preschooler may be suffering from a technology addiction:
• Do they play almost every day?
• Do they play for extended periods of time?
• Do they get irritable when they aren’t allowed to play immediately?
• Do they ignore social cues while playing?
• Do they seem to have lost interest in real life activities?
If your preschooler exhibits these signs, perhaps it is time to get your preschooler outside and into that spring sunshine. While it may not be easy at first, and can certainly cause further irritability in your toddler, by using these tips for outdoor fun, your toddler will be certain to be spending more time outside in no time at all.
Get Your Child Outside
• Caterpillar Hopscotch: Start out by making the caterpillar’s face about two-three feet across, and adding antennas. Then, depending on how long you want your critter, add subsequent circles to your caterpillar spacing them apart and weaving them about. Then, take your toddler outside, sit in the sun, and read the preschool classic, the Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar to your child, pointing out that there’s a caterpillar on the ground for them to play with. Have your toddler jump from circle to circle or try to not step on the lines, varying the colors of your caterpillar can also help your child recognize color familiarity as you have them jump from red to green, pink to blue.
• Giant Bubbles: Not only do giant bubbles evoke visions of bright summer days, but they can be done on a budget as well. To create your bubble soap, just combine one cup of dishwashing soap to a gallon of warm water, add two-three tablespoons of glycerin (available at your local grocery store), and pour into a large sheet pan. Next, create your wand by bending old wire hangers into a loop (be certain to supervise your child in this process, or to make the wires yourself without their help), and dip it into the sheet pan. Teach your preschooler to lift their wand out of the soap slowly and to walk backwards to let loose your bubbles.
• Create A Toddler Garden: A toddler garden is beneficial for many reasons, including getting your toddler to spend time outside, and teaching them responsibility from an early age. Choose seeds that are meant for early springtime planting such as: sweet pea, marigold, snapdragon, sunflower, pea, sugar snap pea, radish, spring onion, and summer squash. With your toddler, look at the seeds and point out their different shapes, colors, and smells. Start them off in small planters, so that your children can control the space (and it will feel like their garden); when their plants start growing help them move into bigger potting and watch them flourish! Depending on what you plant, your growth will differ, and some (like sunflowers) may become huge, giving your toddler something to marvel at.
Trying out these tips will help ensure that your toddler is away from technology—and better than that—wants to be outside. While it may be a change, getting your preschooler away from the iPad or gaming system can help stop a lifelong addiction in its path. Help them engage in their surroundings and don’t shuffle them into a corner with a video playing while out to dinner. And while breaking your toddler’s technology habits may not be the easiest of things, and while there may be a lot of kicking and screaming involved, the end result will be time outdoors with your toddler soaking in the bright, springtime sun.