Born for adventure

Written by Amanda Coop

Are all kids born outdoorsy, morning people?

I’m yet to meet a toddler who doesn’t like to be up at the crack of dawn bashing on the screen door to get outside and do whatever it is that’s so enjoyable it can’t wait until a reasonable hour.

I’m a card-carrying member of the Lazy Slobs Sleep-in Club (not a real club but maybe it should be) and probably the only person you will meet who’ll whinge about their kids wanting to get outdoors.

Well, I don’t like to think of it as whingeing exactly. Obviously, I want them to be running and playing, feeling the cool grass on their bare feet and rolling into the leaves under our shade tree as they teach themselves handstands.

It’s all part and parcel of a healthy childhood. But isn’t there a happy medium that involves them being out in the fresh air and me being inside drinking coffee and playing Solitaire on the iPad? I mean, I’ve had my childhood. I’ve rolled in the leaves.

Now I want to drink coffee. Instead I end up running away from fake monsters and/ or my husband who insists on kicking the football at me despite being well-aware of my physical shortcomings (shouldn’t he be inside drinking coffee or something?).

Anyway, I’m conscious of the fact that one needs to be careful what they wish for. Not so long ago Mr 5 would have been happy to live outside come rain, hail, or shine.

He’d always been an outdoor kid. He loved sand, trucks, water, just being outside pottering around.

I prayed for the day he would learn to swing himself and I wouldn’t have to stand there for an hour at a time.

Well, I sort of got my wish, but it’s his new interest in video games that’s keeping him off the swing. He’s becoming a tiny addict who cries and protests when he has to turn off the game and be forced outside.

Once out there, he pretends to be characters out of his game but at least he’s doing it with his body and not just giving himself an early dose of RSI from the remote.

I know video games affect kids differently and some are much better at regulating themselves than others. Miss 9, for instance, is much less likely to throw a hissy fit over turning off a game (although to be fair, I’m sure age plays a part). Maybe Mr 5 just has an addictive personality. Whatever the case, we’re trying to wean him off the games and back into the outside world.

Surely there’s a reason little kids naturally love being outside, and that’s because it helps them learn and grow in so many ways without them even realising.

I may whinge and grumble about getting up off my butt, but how can you beat a spring afternoon on our beautiful Fraser Coast? Walking on the beach, paddling at the water’s edge, running away from soldier crabs (hubby again – he enjoys terrorising Miss 9 with them).

We know being active helps prevent childhood obesity, but outdoor play is so important in other ways. I didn’t know until I took the time to look into it but spending time outside can decrease the likelihood of a child developing nearsightedness.

It’s also a great way to do messy play and let them get their hands dirty without actually making a mess. I’d much rather get splattered with a bit of soggy sand than have to try to clean slime out of a carpet. It’s also refreshing for all of us not to constantly be telling the kids what not to do.

They just get to potter. Pick up twigs. Draw something silly in the sand. Bury each other – as long as they leave their sibling’s head out. We must maintain some sense of civility.

I love that our local kindies take advantage of the great outdoors (and no, not just because it doesn’t involve me being there) offering programs like bush and beach kindy.

Mr 5’s kindy allows the kids to play outside on rainy days (within reason) which I love, because what’s better than a refreshing soak and stomping in a few puddles? Even the most realistic game can’t compete with that.