Trying to spend more time outdoors with your family? Studies show that kids who spend time outdoors thrive socially, emotionally, and physically. We’ve got some ideas on how to help get your kids outdoors more in and around Greenville, SC.
I love the outdoors and get really antsy if I’m inside too long. Maybe it’s my personality of just never wanting to sit still or maybe it’s my wanderlust and adventurous spirit. But no matter, the outdoors is always calling. Studies show time spent outdoors is a really great thing, too, especially in this age of very stressed kids, who start as young as first grade with standardized and high-stakes tests. It only gets harder from there as most kids strive for college and scholarships.
Multiple studies show that kids learn better when spending more time outdoors, that schools with more tree cover performed better academically than schools without trees outside the building, that outdoor lessons are more effective than teaching inside classrooms, and that nature helps to develop self-discipline, restore focus, relieve stress, increase physical fitness and stamina, and promote social connections.
Studies also show that kids – and adults – are spending way too much time indoors in today’s world, whether it’s work, school, video games, or social media keeping us inside. The results are sobering: kids ages 8-12 spend an average of 4-6 hours a day in front of a screen, which is 1,440 up to 2,160 hours a year. For teens, the average is up to 9 hours a day, which equals an astounding 3,240 hours a year. That’s a lot of time. Like, a lot.
One mom saw all of this in her family and decided to start a movement called 1000 Hours Outside, which encourages families to match screen time (on the low end) with outdoor time and spend 1000 hours outdoors every year, which is a little under three hours a day. It doesn’t even matter what you do: walk your neighborhood, go to the park or playground, plant a garden, water your garden, read a book outside. Her goal was to start to make it a more normal occurence to think of going outside than staying indoors and reap the benefits of outside time.
Greenville = Outdoor Fun
Here in the Upstate, there are no shortages of places to go to spend time outdoors. I’ve always loved the outdoors but took up a serious love of hiking since moving to Greenville several years ago. The opportunities to explore are just endless and my kids and I have had some pretty amazing adventures, which have deepened our relationships with each other and ingrained in us a love of the environment, and instilled a desire to protect and clean it up – so, all good things.
If you need some ideas of how to take up a mentality of getting outdoors more with your family, here are 11 of them:
Take a walk
Live in a neighborhood or near a park? Go take a walk. It’s free and doesn’t require much effort and hardly any gear besides shoes. Don’t feel like you have to go far, even just a 10-minute walk can boost mood and release pent-up energy. There are also tons of paved paths around our area if you need to take your stroller.
Go to the playground
I know packing up little kids and taking them to the playground can sometimes seem like a Herculean effort but maybe find someplace close to your home or ramp up the excitement and find a new playground to check out.
Sit outside and read
Bring storytime outdoors. Invite the older kids to sit outside with you and read their favorite book or listen to their favorite playaway. Get some vitamin D with little effort.
Play a game outdoors
My kids and I have been at the Roper Mountain Science Center’s Living History Farm on some of their special event days and have played with small, wooden toys that were the simplest things ever but so fun. You don’t need to have some crazy expensive outdoor game to enjoy. It can be Twister, a card game, catch, something fun that your family likes. Other ideas our readers suggested were water balloons, tag, hide & seek, or have races.
Plant flowers or a garden
Have a little space outside? Plant a garden. Have a small pot? Plant a flower to grow indoors. Have a community garden (we have several in Greenville)? Rent a spot and plant your garden. Then spend time outside tending the garden, watering it, and reaping your harvest.
You knew this had to be on a list I was going to write since I just love hiking. There are hundreds of miles of trails in the Upstate alone and it’s easy to find one that takes into account your family’s ages and abilities.
Find a waterfall
There are also hundreds of waterfalls in the Upstate and throughout Western North Carolina and Northern Georgia, including several that are roadside so you don’t even need to hike if you don’t want to.
Take school outdoors
If you homeschool, bring your books outside or to a park and work on those math problems and worksheets outdoors. One day in the spring, I took my kids, their books, and hammocks out to Falls Park and we hung the hammocks and did our work next to the river. It was awesome. If your kids are in traditional school, bring them and their homework outdoors when they get home and do it there together.
Ride a bike
This is great for any age. Before my kids could ride their own bikes, I pulled them in a cart along the Swamp Rabbit Trail and stopped at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe for pastries and coffee, and let my kids play in the playground there. Or just ride your bike in your neighborhood or at a park.
Many of our readers suggested this idea – it’s basically an outdoor scavenger hunt using GPS coordinates. Read our story about geocaching locally by a local mom who does it with her kids.
Every season in Greenville brings something special: berry picking and wildflower hunting in the spring, swimming and creek stomping in the summer, farm events and apple picking in the fall, and Christmas tree shopping, snow tubing, and hot chocolate in the winter. You can get outdoors every season in the Upstate!
If you need more ideas of things to do outdoors in our area, see our big Outdoor Guide. A 1000 Hours Outdoors also has a ton of fantastic printables and ideas of things to do outdoors and helps spark creative ideas of how to prioritize getting your family outdoors more.
How do you get outdoors with your family?