Go Outside and Play!

By Kathleen Bullard


Growing up, most of us heard our mothers say that to us. We were allowed to watch Saturday morning cartoons on TV for a little while, then chores, and then outside!

We rode bikes, played kickball, tag, or hopscotch, built forts… you get the idea. We were always active but often in an unstructured way, and the games often came together spontaneously, without adult intervention. We didn’t always walk to or from school, but it wasn’t uncommon to walk to a friend’s house to do homework together.

Sadly, in today’s culture, we are fearful for our children being hurt or abducted if they are away from us. Children are driven to most places by their parents. There is now even a term, “free range children” for parents who are bucking this trend and allowing their children to roam a bit on their own such as going to and from school or the park by themselves.

Whether “free range children” will catch on more broadly is yet to be seen, but the key element here is kids riding bikes or walking to the places they frequent. We are not advocating you let your kids roam freely, but take a piece of this trend which is essentially, not going someplace by car! At our nearby elementary school the cars are lined up to drop kids off, sometimes waiting 15 minutes to get to the head of the line. Ask yourself if that is really necessary. Could you form a walking/biking group with other parents so you take turns walking or biking with your kids to school? If that’s too far and you don’t have time, how about at least parking a few blocks away and walking the rest of the way? Think of the additional exercise you could get!

And while we are at it, how about going outside and playing with your kids? Do simple things like little races to the end of the block, throwing a ball around, and going to the park. Put down all the electronic distractions, connect with your kids and nature, and get some fresh air. Appreciate the simple joys of movement. In other words, “Go outside and play!”

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