April 2023 – The Friendly Parent

Lisa Blanchard
April 2023 – The Friendly Parent
Happy young family spending time together outside in green nature (Photo : Stock photo)

Happy Spring! The winter has finally come to an end, and it is now time to get outside and enjoy our beautiful community.  I am going to take this opportunity to talk about the benefits of nature and being outdoors for our children. Last year, the David Suzuki Foundation conducted a survey with young Canadians and found that a whopping 70% spend an hour or less a day outdoors. The 2012 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card conducted by the David Suzuki Foundation, found that kids are spending almost eight hours a day in front of screens.  So according to this study, kids are not spending enough time outdoors to receive the numerous benefits.

Let’s take a look at the benefits here and maybe this information will inspire you to get your kids outside and playing in nature more.  Numerous studies have been conducted and they all support these findings. The three big benefits are that people are less stressed, that nature boosts our immune system, and that people are generally happier.  I have witnessed this in my own family.  Whenever we get grumpy, and especially my daughter, we take the dog for a walk.  When we leave the house, my daughter is complaining about having to walk the dog and by the end of the walk, she is hugging us, holding our hands and telling us how much she loves us.  This is no joke!  Come for a walk with us and you will witness this dramatic change.  Lol. Family walks are an excellent way to stay active together, to talk and joke, and improve everyone’s mood.

We are fortunate enough to live in a city that has many neighbourhood parks and green spaces.  Encourage your children to play at the park and make new friends.  Not only do trees purify the air we breathe, but they also emit a fine aerosol that when we breathe it in, helps to boost our immune system.  You see, we are supposed to be in nature most of the time.  Our North American culture has it all backwards.  Instead of moving all day and being outdoors, we are indoors and sitting in chairs or couches on our computers or phones most of the day.  So this spring and summer, let’s take a break from technology, and sit outside more, enjoying the sweet sound of the birds. Maybe we bring our children to the park everyday and we play as a family, instead of going on the phone.  Maybe we walk the dog everyday and use the time as a chance for an adventure to discover new areas of our wonderful community.  There is this cool game that you can use your phone to explore the outdoors and find treasure.  It is called “geocaching”.  Check it out!  It is a lot of fun to play as a family.

Studies have also found that playing outdoors improves the behaviour of children struggling with ADHD.  There is nothing better for kids than to play on the park structures, climbing, running, jumping, etc. Do you remember your childhood? Weren’t we outside most of the time, until sunset building forts in the woods and playing tag at the park? Yes, most of us maybe did not have access to a lot of technology. And yes, our kid’s attention is being seduced by online games, Tik Tok and youtube. But getting our kids outdoors and playing in real life (not on screens), is one of the best things we can do as a parent for the wellbeing of our kids!

I hope to see lots of people outdoors picnicking in the park, walking the dog and kids playing in backyards and parks.  If you have any questions you would like to ask, please reach out via email at lisabrmt@outlook.com. I would love to hear from you!  Happy Spring!

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