Two years ago my pediatrician gave me the best advice ever: “Take the kids to the park everyday. Even in cold weather. Just bundle them up. Cold weather doesn’t hurt kids, but staying indoors too much does.”
Her advice made sense to me at the time, but I also thought, “She’s obviously not a mom of triplets.”
My triplet toddlers are now 4, and up until recently, going out with them was really, really hard. It required two strollers, two diapers bags, two or more adults, and a lot of physical and emotional strength.
Still, I tried to take the doctor’s suggestion and during the summer months I took my kids to the park everyday — sometimes twice a day. Once the weather changed though, regular trips to the park became sporadic. Then they stopped completely. Don’t get me wrong, we made our stops to Kidville and Gymboree, but, truthfully, we spent a lot of time indoors.
Our experience this summer, though, was different. Perhaps it’s because my kids are older, and a lot more active. They were swimming, bike riding, running, playing, and even gardening, and I watched each of them make a wonderful transformation. My son Samuel, who was a little shy, became a total chatterbox and talked to anyone who would listen. Eva, who struggled a little with her balance, became skilled at climbing, swimming and bike riding. Then there was David, who didn’t like being physical, and after this summer became a lot more athletic and even rivaled his brother at bike riding skills.
There were other, surprising, changes, too. My kids were able to sit for longer periods of time and play board games. They were happier, more confident, and more verbal kids. According to research, playing outside is really important for kids. It helps develop their motor skills, social skills, enhances creativity, and their focus and concentration in the classroom.
And being outdoors more was not just good for my kids, it was good for me as well. So this winter, I’m committed taking my kids outdoors everyday, even when it’s cold.
Here are three tips to make it easier:
Bundle up. Invest in good thermal underwear for the kids, like Icebreaker. Good wool thermal underwear will keep kids warm in even the coldest of weather, and keep them from overheating as well. So pick some up!
Change it up. Sometimes going to the park is just not possible because of the weather. So take long walks instead. The most important thing is getting outside and getting that fresh air.
Make it a ritual. Research shows that playing outside reduces stress and anxiety in kids and makes kids happier. So make it a ritual — for everyone.
Notoya Green is a parenting expert and former family law attorney. You can read her blog at www.tripl
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