Central Texans like to boast that there’s nothing quite like Spring in our beautiful state. The wildflowers, the short but powerful rains bringing life to our hill country, the warm (and if we’re lucky that year, breezy) patio weather. A welcome reprieve before the impending sweltering Texas summer heat. But the truth is, we are lucky to live in a part of the world that allows for outdoor access year round. National Play Outside Day is the first Saturday of every month.

Spending time outdoors has shown to increase immunity, our ability to emotionally self-regulate and enhance our general well-being. There are more creative (and simple) ways to spend time outdoors outside of hiking, camping and bike rides (as amazing as those are!) Celebrate with others across the nation by thinking outside of the box about ways you can play outside. 

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If you have a backyard, a patio or even a park nearby – consider doing mundane household things with your family in the fresh air. Prep for dinner, fold laundry, host a yard sale or a “yard-free” or invite neighbors and friends to assemble First Aid Kits to use this summer as you continue to spend time outdoors. Don’t forget sunscreen and after-sun care!

Another great way to get your outside hours in is to incorporate learning. Take your bedtime story outside, work together to research and then identify local flora and fauna, look for patterns in nature, create art, and use sidewalk chalk to solve simple math problems or work on spelling. 

Playing outside can include “inside games” too! Have a dance or karaoke party outside. Get in a workout, or a stretch. Bust out your water toys and bubbles. For a more tech-savvy and progressive take on nature time – check out apps like “Playground Buddy” and leave your own pictures and reviews. Go “Playground Hopping” and see how many parks and playgrounds in your area you can explore together. Want some more specific guidance and parameters for your time outside? Look up ‘geocaching’ or ‘marble hunting’ in your area by searching Facebook groups and Meet-Ups.

Volunteerism/Service is easy outside as well. Pick up trash with your crew next time you hit a trail or a park. Help local non-profits by offering to beautify their brick and mortar or adopt a public school, place of worship or a neighbor in need. Plant some flowers or pick up some trash. 

Finally, make sure that as you spend time outdoors, you also take a peak “inside” yourself. How can you practice self-care outside (even with your kids running around)? Try taking a family nap, listening to audiobooks (we all know the one earbud in and one out to hear the kids trick, right?), journaling or a walking meditation. Even with your eyes open, find a moment to steal away and gift yourself. Slow your breathing. Inhale a big breath of Mother nature, mama.

Happy National Play Outside Day!

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Anya is a teacher, writer and single mama to two. Iggy is 11 years old and an empathetic hockey player who recently discovered his love of reading. Analee is a creative comedian-in-training who wears her learning difference as a badge of honor (this hasn’t always been the case). Anya has a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and a Masters of Education in Physical Education from Texas State University- San Marcos. Currently, she is a Physical Education and Yoga teacher, sits on the Board of a local Youth Hockey Organization, and an aspiring writer. Anya loves puns, humor and learning to slow down after a lifetime of chasing the next thing. She is excited to bring her writing to life and share on her upcoming personal blog at www.anyabokeria.com

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