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The great outdoors

The great outdoors


Every winter I forget how much easier kids can be when they get outside and play on a regular basis, and every spring I remember all over again.

My life gets immeasurably simpler the moment the weather gets good enough that I can say to my kids after school, “Go ride your bikes” or  “Go play soccer at the park.”  There's no more bickering over who gets to pick TV that day, no more wandering around the house complaining of boredom once their hour of TV time is done, no pestering each other just to have something to do.

Instead, I generally get kids who come home at 5 p.m., happy with one another, hungry for dinner, and ready to head out again once they finish eating.  By the time bedtime rolls around, they're too tired to fight about being bathed and sent to bed. The whole day just runs more smoothly, even if I do need to do a bit more laundry.

Which is why I'm always a little shocked at how many parents don't regularly send their kids out to play, letting them watch television or play video games even in the best weather. Why not send them outside to play, make friends, get exercise, use their imagination, get some sun?  Why park them in front of yet another screen? Why sit them in yet another chair?

Remember the fun you had building forts, playing sports, jumping rope, riding bikes, or whatever else you did as a kid? Give your children the opportunity to have those same experiences, to run, explore, experiment, and grow. Sure, they might come home dirtier and with a few more scrapes than they usually get playing cellphone games, but they'll also be healthier, happier, and better behaved.

It's worth an extra load or two of laundry and the occasional band-aid.  I promise.