WE ALL know how important it is that kids get outdoors to play and exercise but the reality is it is sometimes hard to do.
During school months it is such a rush each week to get to and from school, to after school activities, homework, dinner, baths and prep for the next day.
In our family’s case we certainly don’t get out much during the week to the park or even for a walk.
Also as with a lot of families space can be an issue sometimes,
if you live in an apartment or smaller houses without big gardens.
I know my daughter Joan certainly has a lot less room to roam than I did as a kid. Something which is always highlighted when I go back to Canada for summer holidays.
We have a family cottage with a big yard and Joan literally runs around it all day when we are there.
We set up badminton nets, baseball, kiddie golf, you name it there is room for it. She loves it and there isn’t a tablet or iPad in use for days, in fact the TV doesn’t even go on at any stage.
As kids my sister and I would roam all through the fields near the house and the woods. We would make forts and invent elaborate games for entire days.
It was such a wonderful way to spend our childhood. It helped us develop our imaginations, stay active and healthy and it importantly taught us independence as we weren’t under our parent’s vision the whole time. Of course they always knew where we were but we were free to explore and enjoy.
We are also on a lake so each summer as kids and now with Joan we spend hours a day swimming and splashing around; we learned how to paddle and canoe and become strong swimmers.
So come the evenings with the combination of fresh air and all the outdoor activity, like when I was a kid, Joan just conks it.
Plus it is amazing each year to see the difference in her confidence with being outdoors and around all sorts of ‘wild’ animals too.
She sees and learns about snakes, fish, owls and deer and so much more. This year she attempted to get close to and feed groundhogs and was ‘OK’ with the snakes she came across. She has also had to learn to cope with rather big and pesky insects and swim with wildlife that you just don’t come across in the pool.
Being outdoors really has so many benefits. From all the new things Joan comes across and learns about to how active we become as a family. It is liberating and relaxing at the same time.
So each summer when I get back to Dublin from time at the cottage I promise I will get better with getting the family outdoors during the evenings and weekends.
We live near a big park and the waterfront so there is no excuse. The Wicklow Mountains are a short drive away and there are hundreds of hiking trails and parks all so close.
Last year we visited the Waterford Greenway which is spectacular and roaming the hills and fields of Co Clare is breathtaking. Again I have no excuse.
You feel so much better both in your mind and body in the fresh air and around all things green.
And yes in Ireland the weather is hit and miss but there really is so much to do in the outdoors so let’s all get out there.