I love getting outdoors with my children. I love especially going to parks now that it is spring and the weather is (mostly) starting to warm up again. However, outdoor fun for kids can sometimes be short-lived if you go unprepared, especially when your kids are young, like mine. In order to enjoy more fun outside activities and sunshine as a family, I am sharing tricks on how to extend outdoor play for kids. Because, honestly, I want to be at the park longer then I am in the car!
1. Avoid nap times.
You should (obviously) avoid going to the park when it is your child’s nap time, or getting close to it. While running at the park will wear your child down even more, you risk the chance of your child falling asleep on the car ride home and ruining their regular (much longer) nap. You also risk fighting your child to leave the park without an epic meltdown and/or having to battle to get them into their car seats. Just don’t do it if at all possible.
2. Bring balls or Frisbees or kites or chalk or ….
Parks are awesome in that you don’t have to have your own backyard swing set. But, when your child gets tired of the same three slides, then whip out a ball (any kind will do) or a Frisbee (or a kite or a fill-in-the-blank) and start a different type of game and activity. Chances are both you and your child will start to have more fun too. (Please, tell me I’m not the only one who gets tired of pushing a child on the swing for 30 minutes!)
3. Pack a snack or a full lunch.
If you are looking to be at the park for a long time, I suggest bringing food. Food keeps your child energized and ready to go back and play some more. A simple snack like a banana, orange, or apple are great because you can just grab them and go. However, if you plan on staying through lunchtime, then I suggest taking the time to pack a full lunch. Besides, picnics are a great way to extend the outdoor fun time at the park. But, I’m going to throw in a caveat to this advice: I have found that sometimes not bringing food has made leaving parks (or other venues) easier, as I remind my children how they are hungry and that we have to leave in order to take care of that.
4. Stay hydrated.
So, even if you forgo bringing food, a drink is so important to have. Running around, in the sun, is hard work, and kids need to stay hydrated. The fun and flavorful Fruitshoot makes staying hydrated easy. Robinson’s Fruitshoot is a real fruit drink with no high fructose corn syrup available in four different flavors, and is found at many gas stations as well as grocery stores. It makes it easy to pick up some on your way to or from the park. With the no-spill top, and easy-grip bottle, I don’t have to worry about soggy children when I get home (or stained seats)! Plus, with purchase of Fruitshoot, there is the option for a free download of an Angry Birds game (which my kids love!), perfect for parents to further extend play time with their kids. Enter the code on the back of your Fruitshoot bottle to play!
5. Go to the bathroom before you leave.
Some parks don’t have bathrooms. Some parks only have port-a-potties. And while many parks have flushing toilets, the condition of these bathrooms may be jarring to certain children, my own included. Don’t cut you trip to the park short because your child refuses to use a big, smelly, gross bathroom at the park (or because they don’t have any facilities). Make sure to have your kids go before you leave. Oh, and make sure you go too.
6. Wear tennis shoes.
While sandals are fun and light, they aren’t the best for playing and running in. Get your child a good supportive athletic shoe that will help them land softer, climb better, and run faster, and ultimately avoid any wood chips or plastic pebbles getting stuck between their toes. Outdoor fun isn’t so great with a splinter.
7. Sun Protection.
You don’t want your child to burn in the hot sun, so think about a hat and the clothes your child is wearing and the time of day you are out. If it is high burn times, put on some sunblock. Because, a burn today, will mean less play tomorrow!
8. Invite a friend to join you.
Nothing makes outdoor fun for kids better then having playmates to explore with! Plus, it gives mom and dad someone to talk to.
9. Bring clothes.
Cold kids don’t generally have a lot of fun. Make sure to bring weather-appropriate clothes to the park. Bring jackets if it is windy. Hats and gloves if it is winter-time. Also, you might want to bring an entire extra set of clothes with you. Since young kids are prone to blow outs, accidents, and general mess-making, extra dry, clean clothes can help you stay longer at the park. Also, a blanket is a great idea too!
10. Bring the camera.
Snap some great pictures of your kids playing at the park! I love the pictures we’ve taken of our kids in the baby swings, and sliding down slides, and exploring. They grow up too fast – don’t forget to capture those memories! It will extend outdoor fun indefinitely.
What is your secret to a great day of outdoor fun at the park with your young kids?
P.S. Don’t forget to check out Fruit Shoot on Facebook!