Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kids should be raised by wolves

Do your little ones play outside every day? Were you raised by wolves like me?

According to an article I read this morning on ABC News, only 49% of preschool kids play outside with parents at least once each day.

I'm the homely child on the left.
When I was a kid, all I had to play with was a 2'x4' and a rake.

No, but for real.

I grew up on the wooded East Coast in a quiet, secluded neighborhood. My Dad really wanted us to grow all of our food and have plenty of land to protect us from the neighbors. You think I'm joking, but he was paranoid.

All year round, Mom would say, "Go outside and play." We'd rake pathways through the dense trees, clearing walkways and large openings. These were our houses with hallways and plenty of room for imagination. It was soooooo fun. Even to this day, I want to go play house in the woods.

We made a "gymnastics center" from a hammock, 2'x4' and some logs in one of those clearings. Our neighbor had a small man-made pond where we'd "fish," trying our luck at catching "Bubba," the giant bass none of us had ever seen but knew was real. I was secretly thankful no one ever caught him because I was terrified of wet, slimy creatures. And all summer long, we'd go shoe-less so we could have tough feet like Pocahontas.

We'd play until dusk when Mom would holler at the top of her lungs for us to come home. What would my neighbors say if I did that today? Haha. They'd probably call the cops. I guess I'd just have to text my kid instead.

All of my best childhood memories are set in the woods. I want that for my kids. But, things are so different now.

I am one of the lucky few with a back yard. But, it's sparse. The kids get bored in about 5 seconds and sunburnt in 4, whining to come back inside. There's nothing to explore except dead grass, weeds, a few rose bushes and one of those metal play-sets with only three legs on the ground at any one given time. First world problems, eh?

But, despite all that, the question still remains: Am I encouraging my kids to be active outdoors?

I'm scared the answer is no. Of course, this could be a new, awesome part of my momming life. Imagine resting outside under an umbrella reading my favorite book while the kids are forced to play together...Mmmmm...

I am setting a goal for my family: at least 30 minutes of outdoor play per day. I'm not big on giving myself additional tasks to complete each day, but this one is so important for the kiddos. Bring on the wolves.

So, what do you think? How often do your kids get outdoors? How do you keep them entertained in the wild?

Image source: Giant Sea Bass


  1. I agree, but I often don't go with them. I need my sanity and break too. Glad to see you writing.

  2. My 2 1/2 yo loves to play outside, and he loves to get dirty. Something we've done is sprinkle baking soda on the driveway and then pour vinegar on it to watch it foam. We also splurged and got a trampoline to encourage us to play outside (we do go play outside more, except when the mosquitos and biting gnats are out). He also likes our garden that we've planted and wants to dig in that dirt, which makes me think about making him his own "garden" of just soft dirt to dig in (our backyard is mostly sandy clay, and pretty worthless in general). We splash in mud puddles, hunt for lizards, look at all the different bugs in the yard, etc. Until the bugs start to eat me alive, and then I have to drag the boy inside. ;)

  3. Great article! So very true! I get out in the summer, but I admit...if it is the slightest bit cold outside, I hibernate. I hate cold weather. Our kids need to develop their imagination instead of playing video games.

  4. As long as it's not bitter out, we spend at LEAST an hour outside. My kids have actually whined to me, "but I ALREADY played outside mom." Yeah, well...get back out there. I think it's so essential for kids to have nature play. It unlocks a part of their imagination that can't really be used in other scenarios, and it tires them out better than anything else. One of my favorite parks is on 1000 West and 1800 South. There's a huge "mountain" constructed with massive boulders and some pine trees, with trains. It's encouraged for kids to play on, and allows my kids the feeling of playing in the woods or on the mountain in a more controlled environment for my mom safety nerves. The kids get good and dirty, and generally the bathwater needs run twice after a couple of hours here, but the scrapes and soil are worth the smiles and zzzzzzzzzz.

  5. Sandbox and dollar store, best toy! My mom says 1 hour a day if it's nice, 1/2 an hour if it's cold. That's my goal. I go to friends houses to play often. Lets me have an adult conversation and the kids play longer. Win win.

  6. HaHa sister that is a very good depiction of our childhood. Oh Bubba...I think we actually did catch him once...I think he was real! Well living in the same house that we did when we were younger I do feel bad that my children are trapped in the house most of the time. When we were younger people either were less paranoid, aware, or more careless. I can't let the kids outside without me! There are bugs, poison ivy, strangers. Most of these were around when we were younger but it seems like such a bigger deal now. Mom just let us run..If I let my son run he probably wouldn't come back:)