It might make us sound old and jaded, but it’s true: when we were in school, summer holidays were spent playing outdoors, getting our clothes mucky, and exploring whatever was in our backyards. But that doesn’t seem the case for ‘kids these days’.
Instead of bike rides and ball games, it’s all about YouTube and consoles – at least that’s what the experts are saying.
Studies show that children are spending an increasing number of hours in front of screens (including TVs, computers, and mobile phones). It’s estimated that:
- 5 to 7-year-olds spend about 9 hours/week
- 8 to 11-year-olds spend about 13 hours/week
- 12 to 15-year-old spend about 21 hours/week
While the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health refuses to state that screen time is harmful for children, many parents beg to differ. Regardless of how you feel, it’s hard to argue the benefits that kids get from spending time outdoors or doing other hands-on activities.
It’s time to rewild the children! We’ve listed 5 creative ways to pull the kids away from their screens and back into the real world this summer.
1. Get artistic with eco-friendly sidewalk chalk
There’s something irresistible about a piece of colourful chalk and an empty sidewalk. Encourage your kids to express themselves by creating a mural outside your home. You can give them a specific theme (such as zoo animals, favourite foods, or superheroes), or simply let their imaginations run wild!
Before they get started, make sure to lay down the rules about traffic safety and respecting pedestrians. It’s also important to choose chalk that’s environmentally friendly – look for a brand that uses non-toxic dyes.
2. Visit a farmer’s market
Teach your kids about the importance of supporting local businesses and get your weekly shop done at the same time! Farmer’s markets are a vibrant and enriching place to spend a morning or afternoon, great for educating children about organic farming and sustainable choices.
Do a quick search to find a local market near you, or visit one that’s located in the UK’s national parks.
3. Prepare and execute the perfect picnic
Get creative in the kitchen (perhaps with the ingredients you bought at the farmer’s market!) and encourage your children to prepare a picnic hamper. There are plenty of vegan recipes you can try out, or opt for classics like sandwiches and salad.
Once you’ve finished the prep, find a nice spot to indulge. There’s no need to go far – the local park or even your back garden can turn into the perfect picnic spot once you lay out an old blanket and enjoy some quality time as a family!
4. Start a wild garden
We’ve written about the importance of letting the wild back into your garden, and summertime is the perfect chance to start. Whether you focus on a small patch or extend the efforts across your entire space, there are plenty of ways the kids can get involved.
Planting local shrubs and flowers or building a compost heap can make a big difference to the local ecosystem. Check out The Wildlife Trust for more fun ideas that children can help with. Spend an afternoon creating a hedgehog home, bee hotel, stone wall, or bug mansion and let them spend the rest of the summer enjoying the results of their efforts!
5. Be a tourist in your own town
Is there something in your local village, town, or city that you’ve always meant to explore but never gotten around to checking out? Now is the perfect time! Whether it’s a niche museum, a pretty little park, or even the local library, become a tourist for a day and spend a bit of time appreciating the treasures that are close to home.
Get the kids into it by packing a backpack with a map, snacks, and water and telling them that you’re heading out to explore a brand new place. Veto the car in favour of your local bus or train, so you can gain a new perspective (while also doing your bit for the environment).
With a little bit of imagination, you can make your children forget about the screens and treat them to a whole new experience – and maybe even feel like a kid again yourself! Do you have any fun tips for summertime activities? Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!