Between screen time and the busy schedules of both parents and kids, today’s children are spending less time outside and missing out on this fun and beneficial part of childhood. Use these five fun ideas to get you and your kids outside and exploring nature.
Tips to Get Kids Outside and Away From Screens
(Family Features) Remember taking off for a day of adventure on your bike, returning home only for dinner? Kids these days don't have the same incredible experience of exploratory, unstructured play. According to a new survey commissioned by Nature's Path, 54 percent of moms say their kids spend more time playing in front of a screen than playing outside.
"Playing outside in nature is critically important for kids' development. Research shows it improves everything from problem-solving to cognitive ability to social relations," said parenting expert Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions. "Between screen time and the busy schedules of both parents and kids, today's children are spending less time outside and missing out on this fun and beneficial part of childhood."
According to the survey, the majority of moms try to regularly get their kids outside to enjoy the lifelong learning and health benefits of playing in nature. The biggest barriers that prevent this are: fear of letting kids play outside alone, being too busy juggling other priorities and not having the time to supervise outdoor play.
Here are five fun ideas to get you and your kids outside and exploring nature:
1. Get crafty. Let your kids collect leaves, flowers, stones, pinecones or anything that strikes their fancy - and then craft together. Make leaf prints, press flowers between plastic sheets to create placemats, paint stones or sticks to look like animals or make a terrarium in a bottle. The possibilities are as endless as their imaginations.
2. Schedule it. Kids are used to planned sports and activities, so schedule an hour of outdoor play that they will come to expect. That's where the planning ends - give them some ideas, but let them use their imaginations and engage in unstructured free play.
3. Explore at night. Turn a simple walk around the neighborhood into an adventure by going outside in the evening. Let kids take flashlights and glow sticks to help explore nature in a whole new way. Talk about the sights and smells at night and look at the stars together.
4. Share your favorite activities and make new memories. When you were young, did you love to skip stones on a pond? Build a fort? Jump in to piles of leaves? Tell your kids about your favorite pastimes and experience them together.
5. Get schools involved. According to the survey, the vast majority of moms (94 percent) agree it's important that schools also help kids discover nature. Moms can help schools by bringing them a program that's easy to implement. Nature's Path EnviroKidz Ecokeepers is a hands-on, exploration-based program that blends a traditional activity passport for kids to fill-in with a modern-day treasure hunt that uses GPS on smartphones to find hidden caches. It's free for schools and camps, and complements science and physical education curriculum. Parents can also download the Ecokeepers explorer guide and resources featuring activities to do with the family. The geocache app can be downloaded free from geocaching.com or your smartphone's app store.
While busy schedules don't always make it easy for moms to do everything they'd like to do with their kids, a little planning can help to get kids outside to experience all the benefits of outdoor play.
A good night's rest includes four different sleep stages with 90-minute phases of alternating non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. To help moms everywhere reach all stages and sleep better during the hectic back-to-school season and all year long, Shannon Wright, Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences and wellness expert for Natrol, recommends following these tips and tricks.
(BPT) - Early mornings, new extracurricular activities and loads of homework - back to school is a big transition for kids. With the focus on children's success, there's one family member who always sacrifices her well-being to ensure days run smoothly: Mom.
"She lays in bed at night planning the next day. She gets up earlier than the kids to prepare meals. She selflessly packs her schedule to meet family obligations," says Shannon Wright, Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences and wellness expert for Natrol.
Wright says that this do-it-all attitude is admirable, but the effects mean moms are losing the important sleep they need to feel their best and stay healthy.
"Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night that includes all sleep stages in order to feel well rested," Wright says. "One out of three Americans don't get enough sleep and women are two times more likely to have difficulty falling and staying asleep."
A good night's rest includes four different sleep stages with 90-minute phases of alternating non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. To help moms everywhere reach all stages and sleep better during the hectic back-to-school season and all year long, Wright recommends following these tips and tricks:
Adopt a sleep routine
A consistent sleep-wake schedule isn't just good for your kids, it's good for you, too. This supports your body's natural circadian rhythms that occur with the day-night transition. This also supports the release of melatonin, the body's naturally produced hormone that signals the body to sleep soundly.
Create a sleep oasis
The bedroom environment should be conducive to sleep and that goes beyond the bed. A cool, dark, noise-free bedroom helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer. If you have noise or light challenges, consider blackout shades, face masks, ear plugs and white noise machines.
Avoid late evening screen time
The kids are finally in bed and moms everywhere have a few moments to themselves. Catching up on email, watching TV shows and perusing your smartphone can kill sleep potential if you do it within an hour of bedtime. Essentially, the LED lights make your brain believe it's day and therefore prohibit melatonin release.
There is a lot of research that connects quality sleep to exercise, so even if you're tired, try to move and groove your body every day. Walk the field perimeter at the kids' soccer practice, join the kids on the playground or pop in that yoga DVD to start your morning out with a good stretch.
Be proactive about tomorrow
Enjoy a smoother morning and fewer worries while you're lying in bed by getting things done the night before. For example, make lunches, pack backpacks, shower and lay out clothes for the next day in the evening. You'll have fewer to-do's in the morning and you can sleep in a little later.
Take sleep-supportive supplements
Stress, along with other things like age, diet and lifestyle can affect our bodies' production of melatonin. Taking a melatonin supplement can help. Try Natrol, a 100% drug-free melatonin supplement that is non-habit forming. The fast-dissolve tablets help moms fall asleep faster, stay asleep and wake up refreshed to tackle another busy day.
"These tips may be simple, but they are extremely effective. Remember, with a good night's rest it's a whole lot easier to be Super Mom," Wright says.
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