Outdoor Play In The Winter

Why We Love to Play Outdoors in the Winter 

Sometimes I dream about having four distinct seasons.   And then I see the national weather report on any given day in January and realize I wouldn’t trade our mild winters for anything.  Northerners can get snowed in for days, and frankly I’m not sure I’d stay sane for very long.  I’ve started to realize that this is actually my favorite time of year to get the kids playing outdoors.  There are no mosquitos or wasps driving us nuts, sunscreen is rarely needed, and even though it may not always feel like a true winter, we actually luck out with a ton of gorgeous days.  

We can often get extra cozy (lazy) on cold mornings and not want to go outside, but my goal is to get us out the door every single day for some fresh air, as long as it isn’t a total downpour.  We tend to keep it really simple and play in the front or back yard most days.  If we’re feeling adventurous, we’ll go to a park, but we usually just step right outside our door. 

Top Ten Mom Reasons for Outdoor Play in Winter

While you can google the many proven health benefits to playing outside, I thought I would share my favorite “mom reasons” for getting the kids bundled up this winter and shooing them out the door into the elements.  Yes, it’s great for them, but really it’s great for you, too! 

10.  Your kids can’t make a mess IN your house if they aren’t actually inside.  My kids are tornadoes sometimes in the house, and the only way to prevent it, is to leave the house.  Cleaning up a few random outdoor toys is nothing compared to the disaster waiting to happen inside.  

9. Sunshine is good for the soul, but more importantly it will keep your kids healthier! No mom likes to see her kid under the weather.  Lack of sunshine can lead to a lack of Vitamin D, which is very important for a healthy immune system.  Healthy Vitamin D levels can contribute to healthier kids overall.  So when it’s one of our warmer winter days, let their skin soak up some sun for a little while.  A warm afternoon sun following a chilly morning just feels so good. (Not to mention a little color on this pale winter skin never hurt anybody.)

My two littles playing in the leaves. Can you see them both? 😉

8.  Sunshine and fresh air boost happiness, too!  Winter can put anyone and everyone in a funk if the circumstances are right.  Sunshine and fresh air are proven to help boost mood and lower stress levels. Great for kids, and especially great for exhausted moms.  I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to feel stressed when I’m breathing fresh air and letting the sun’s rays hit my skin. 

7. Speaking of happiness and mood, I notice a HUGE difference in the way my kids get along outside vs. when we’re stuck indoors.  Inside, they fight every 5 seconds, it seems.  Outside, I almost NEVER have to regulate a sibling spar.   I don’t know if it’s the change of scenery, the sunshine, or the lack of walls.  All I know is they are happier, they fight less, and MAMA IS WINNING.

6. Being outdoors with less toys and exciting discoveries leads to a spark in creativity that your little ones just can’t find indoors.  The possibilities are endless and the memories really are priceless.  Plus, they will stay busy and engaged for longer, meaning mom can take a longer mental break. 

5. Once your little kids are old enough (at your discretion), sending them out into the backyard without you is totally acceptable.  Make sure the ant beds are dead, the gates are locked, and open your windows.  I can see and quietly hear mine playing out there and they are as content as can be.  And so am I!  It’s a great way to trust your kids with some independence and gain a moment of peace in your day.  Quiet time for mom is priceless. 

4. Feel the earth.  Do this one with them, moms.  As much as the sunshine and fresh air is good for us, so is getting our feet onto the earth.  If its warm enough, go barefoot in the back yard and feel the stress melt away.  Disconnect from all electronics and recharge naturally. 

3. Letting kids play outside can be very helpful with attention.  Being proactive about things like this could help everyone in the long run.  According to this article from Care.com:

” Studies have shown that green outdoor settings appear to reduce ADHD symptoms in children, which includes the exposure they get to natural settings like parks and beaches through weekend and after-school activities. Overall, it’s becoming increasingly more apparent that these types of outdoor activities may be widely effective in reducing attention deficit symptoms in children.”  

2. Playing outside wears kids out.  Plain and simple.  They are able to get tons of exercise outside, and ultimately, few things indoors will wear them out in quite the same way.  Bedtimes are a breeze when kids have burned off all that great energy!  Great news for kids and moms who just need an hour of total quiet once the kids are asleep. 

1.  The memories made outdoors are the ones that last.  Ok I don’t have any specific evidence to back this one up, but I believe it.  I have very few memories playing with random toys or watching TV.  Most memories from my childhood, and especially my childhood home, are outdoors.  I think I was happiest outdoors, and I still am today.  My kids seem happiest outdoors, and I hope that continues. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are times I need to get stuff done and the kids watch Disney for way too long.  If the weather is terrible, we can hole up inside and get our snuggle on for days on end.  So I’m not saying we live outdoors, but we are learning to value it more and more.  We appreciate the fresh air and the sun, especially during the winter, and we don’t want to miss it. 

Maybe 30 years ago our moms didn’t need to think about it like we do.  But in a very technology driven world, I find it necessary to make this a conscious effort. 

Plus, I just can’t beat the smiles on their faces when I say “let’s go outside!” 

We’d love to hear about your wintertime fun ideas for outside in the comments!


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