Retro Outdoor Time Important for Kids

If you’re like most parents, you probably grew up with at least three to four hours of unsupervised outdoor play each day. Mom would send you out to play after lunch, and you wouldn’t be seen again until dinner.

But according to new research, only a third of today’s children are given the same, causing a number of health and culture consequences.  In fact, eyesight is diminished in children who do not get at least 10 hours of outdoor time per week.  And stranger danger has kept many children from learning how to do basic activities unsupervised.

Encourage outdoor play each day

Utilize old-fashioned goodness

Solutions to this lack of outdoor time is an old-fashioned throw back to unpacking the schedule, allowing kids to explore, and more  sunshine and nature hours.

As you think about what you might do with the kids for late summer, one retro activity is the simple outdoor picnic at the local park.  This works even with teenagers.  Load up on seasonal fruits and veggies, made-at-home simple sandwiches, a cooler with some home-made lemonade and paper cups that can be recycled or composted or reusable water bottles.

If your children love to bike, allow them to go with a friend and explore the neighborhood.  Send them on errands to the local store so they can learn life skills.  Encourage them to walk or bike to meet up with friends instead of requiring a car ride all the time.

Go screen free

We’re so screen connected that sometimes we forget about what we can do besides TV or computer games.  It may take some parent willpower, but require outdoor playtime or exercise every day.  Camping, swimming, and backyard play are terrific tools.

More ideas include –

  • Flying kites
  • Jumping rope
  • Biking
  • Running in the sprinklers
  • Putting a blanket on the grass and eating homemade popsicles
  • Building outdoor houses or forts with big cardboard boxes and crayons

 This Yahoo! list has dozens more ideas for old-fashioned summer fun.

Don’t forget sun protection

Don’t forget sun protection

While children (and adults!) need sunshine, they also need to protect their skin.  New labeling rules were put into effect last December and allow most sunscreens to market as “broad spectrum.”  This is supposed to mean they can protect you against all damaging sunshine rays.  But, not all sunscreens are equal.

So here are four tips –

  • Choose an SPF between 15 and 50, no higher: SPF protects against sunburn.  But, higher SPF’s, like your 100’s, can give you a false sense of protection because you really should reapply every hour if you are out in the sun.
  • Avoid oxybenzone and Vitamin A in the ingredients – Oxybenzone can penetrate the skin, go into the bloodstream, and act like estrogen.  And when you have Vitamin A (also known as retinyl palmitate) on sun-exposed skin, this can develop skin tumors and lesions.  Scary stuff.
  • Use lotions – avoid your sprays and powders because you can’t always get the coverage and you might inhale them
  • Lastly, choose water resistant sunscreens for the beach or pool

 Here’s a link to an infographic from Environmental Working Group which goes through all these suncare tips and also links to recommended sunscreens.

Have fun outdoors!

 Photos by these Dreamstime photographers: Poznyakov, Kelliem, Maszas


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