Get Your Kids Off the Couch and Into the Great Outdoors

Summer is here and the kids are glued to their screens, watching 24-hour cartoon channels, playing games or cruising the internet. If they greet you with groans and wonder why when you tell them to get outside and enjoy some sunshine, you could try the old “because I said so” method, or you could try some of these ideas and get them both outside and having fun.

Issue a Challenge

Most kids can’t resist a challenge! If you don’t want to fuel sibling rivalry (and who does?) make the challenge kids versus parent. It won’t hurt you to get off the couch a bit this summer and enjoy some sunshine. Some ideas for simple challenges include:

Who can log the most time or miles on the bike? Plan family CrossFit workouts done in the driveway or backyard for fun.

Break out the sidewalk chalk and challenge the kids to a game of hopscotch. This is an oldie but a goodie.

A sandbox challenge! Who can build the best castle, the longest moat or just the tallest pile?

OMG – Need some inspiration as to what Kids can do – Check this video out!

Take the Video Games Outside

A few boxes, a bit of wood, and your kid can turn your backyard into their very own live-action video game. Create your own Angry Birds-style obstacle course with empty boxes and bean bags for the birds. Act out a shoot ’em up game with some water guns. Hang up a tarp and paint targets on it for the kids to hit. If you let the grass get a bit too long, consider mowing a maze in it for the kids to run through – creating your very own backyard puzzle game.

Don’t Leave the Tech Behind

Geocaching used to be just for the lucky few with a handheld GPS device, but now most of us have a handy GPS unit built into our smart phones. You follow GPS clues to find the hidden geocache, like one great big techno-treasure hunt. There are caches hidden everywhere, from the city park to your favorite remote hiking trail. You can probably even find some hidden within a block or two of your home. Remember basic geocache rules and etiquette before you set out:
Never go onto private land to place or find a cache without the owner’s permission.
Keep a cache hidden! Don’t draw attention of passers-by when locating or hiding a cache, otherwise someone not involved in the activity may take or damage the cache. Never tell the exact location of the cache, either!
Leave a cache better than you found it. Replace worn out items and never take an item that isn’t meant to be taken. Keep a few extra ziplock bags on you so you can waterproof items if the cache has sprung a leak.
Always replace the cache exactly as you found it. Avoid the temptation to move it to a better hiding spot, because that will just make it more difficult for the next person to find and may result in a lost cache.

Bribe ‘Em

When all else fails, bust out the bribery. The kids want TV? Give them 30 minutes for every hour the spend outside. Stock up on some inexpensive summer toys – sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a new kite. Deliver these items with great ceremony throughout summer to infuse a bit of excitement into the prospect of wandering outside for a bit.

Of course, the most effective bribe of all is time with YOU. Cook outside with the kids, run through the sprinklers with them, even take a favorite board game out to the patio to play together. When it comes down to it, kids model what their parents do. If they see you outside, they will want to be there, too

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