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Reaping the Rewards of Every Day Outdoor Play

by Karen Ung
Sunlight sparkled on the snow as wind gusts bowed the trees. We watched, from the kitchen table, protected from the deathly minus-30-with-windchill cold. My daughter, without warning, picked up a pen and paper and painstakingly wrote “Do you want to play outside?” What magical words to come from a 5 year old on one of the coldest days of the year! She didn’t know or care what the temperature was; she just wanted to play in the snow! I was overjoyed (although I knew we wouldn’t last long out there)! Little POG raced me to the door and within moments was pulling on snowpants, zipping up her coat, shoving her little feet into boots, and putting on her toque and mittens. She was dressed before I was and the last I heard, she was hollering, “See you in the back yard!!” I raced to keep up.
It isn’t always like this and it’s been a long time coming. The biggest challenge has always been getting out the door. When the girls were small, it literally took longer to get ready than do anything outside on chilly days! By the time one kid was dressed, the other was hot and stripping down. If I put Miss Toasty outside, she would protest (loudly) that she wanted “Inside!”and come back in before the other toastlet and I were dressed. It was a lot like herding rabid cats. (For tips on how to dress your kids in winter, see Keeping Kids Warm in Winter.)

Little POG loves snow!
By the time my kids were 3 and 1.5, I was child wrangler extraordinaire with mad ninja moves, not to mention convincing (or conniving?) acting skills. “Mommy will be so LONELY at the park without you!!” I bribed them to no end too: “If we go [here], you can have a treat!” All the things I swore I’d never do when I had kids were coming home to roost. Whatever. We were getting out and living the good life, right? Yes. Undeniably yes.

We often bribed the kids with treats. Now treats are more of a reward!
Playing outside every day is something I committed to long before having kids for countless reasons. Along with that hit of Vitamin D (in summer anyways!), which is so good for our physical and mental health, it gets us moving and gets us into nature. Kids forget what they were fighting about while they roll in the snow, and you can have a moment’s peace… until you dive in with them, and I recommend you do! Outdoor play is good for adults too! We all feel happier when we get outdoors, and once it becomes a habit, you don’t have to fight to get the kids out the door. Try to do it every day – even if it’s only for a short time! I promise it gets easier and your kids will be beating you to the door!
How we do grocery runs!
For fun outdoor play ideas and tips on getting outside with little ones, check out these stories:
See you outside!
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