This sponsored post is on behalf of the Toy Industry Association’s TheGeniousofPlay.org initiative, which celebrates the many proven benefits of play. Any opinions included are my own.
Do you prioritize outdoor play in your family? Life can be busy, but there are so many barriers to actually getting outside and playing together. Weather, no matter where you live, can play such a role in making it hard to motivate kids to play outdoors. We traded in those monstrous New England snowbanks for 105 degree Texas heat, but it can take time and energy to plan that outdoor play time.
While exercise and activity levels are individual to each person, many people are becoming increasingly aware of the physical and emotional benefits of outdoor play and exercise.
Not only are these activities important for children to develop coordination and strength, but they provide opportunities for children to learn how to communicate, socialize, and play with peers. My son is adventurous and active, emerging from a long day of school, bursting at the seams with energy, begging me for a trip to the park or playground.
I’m grateful to have a little boy who is insistent on outdoor play, despite all of my personal excuses to prioritize other activities!
Here are 5 of my favorite ways to motivate kids (and yourself!) to play outdoors, so both you and your child can have numerous opportunities to grow physically, socially and emotionally no matter where you live, anytime of the year.
5 Genius Tips to Motivate Kids to Play Outdoors
1. Keep a List of Your Favorite Outdoor, Kid-Friendly Places
While some may have the ability to open a garage door to the driveway or a sliding door to a deck or backyard playground, others live in the city or in neighborhoods that don’t have those options. We love packing an after-school picnic and making a playground pit-stop before heading home for dinner. We have a running list of places that we like to visit, that are literally on the route to and from school. Playgrounds are obvious choices, but we also have our favorite baseball fields, soccer nets, bike paths and walking tracks.
2. Create an Outdoor Play Bin For the Car
Depending upon when the mood strikes us or if the weather cooperates on any given day, I keep an outdoor play bin in the trunk of my car. It’s organized with outdoor toys and sports equipment like lacrosse sticks, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, baseball gloves, frisbees, sand toys, bubble blowers and soccer balls. Whether it’s an impromptu trip to the park or an unplanned stop at the grandparent’s house, there is always something interesting available to play with outside.
3. Set Up a Consistent Outdoor Playdate
Nothing motivates me more, than spending time with my own friends. Consider organizing a consistent, outdoor playdate at the park with friends, so the kids can entertain each other while playing outdoors at a playground or riding their bikes, while the parents exercise simultaneously by walking. Since we have a collection of unique ride-on toys, balance bikes and scooters that I also keep in the trunk of my car, we swap toys with friends on these days and that allows the kids to try something fun and new.
4. Rotate Toys and Keep Them Organized
When children are home and enjoying outdoor play, keep their toys organized in bins and create “parking spaces” for their ride-on toys and bikes. Keep seasonal bins or spread a variety of toys among a few bins which can be alternated for novelty. New toys, or even seeing an old toy for the first time in a long time that a child wasn’t successful with the year before, can be very motivating and quickly engaging children in outdoor play.
5. Sign Up for After-School Organized Sports or Activities
Community activities like soccer and baseball are generally cost-effective, and have a consistent schedule. I often find myself a lot more consistent when I’m accountable to others and I have made some type of financial commitment. While organized sports may not be for you or your child, our school has an extended day program, where the children get plenty of outdoor time to climb on the playground, play ball or draw with sidewalk chalk. Since I can’t always be there in the after school pick-up line due to my work schedule, I know if I sign him up for the after-school program at least one day a week for a few hours, he can get the outdoor activity he craves without any maternal guilt on my part.
The sponsored post is on behalf of the Toy Industry Association’s “TheGeniousofPlay.org initiative that celebrates the many proven benefits of play … and encourages parents and caregivers to make play an important part of your child’s day!” While compensation was received, the opinions included in this post are my own.