As we wander through our neighborhoods, it becomes abundantly clear. Though the weather has warmed, many streets remain quiet and deserted. With so much going on inside, many children no longer play outdoors. Gone are the days of swarming, sweaty kids making up new games and playing from morning till dusk.
Many kids beg to stay inside, to play video games, and enjoy the air conditioning. But our bodies were created to enjoy and explore creation. Nature is a place where we connect with our Creator.
"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1).
God's glory can be seen in the wonders that he has made. That alone is reason enough, but there are other blessings as well. When we go outside on a sunny day, we take in more Vitamin D from the sun in 10 minutes than we can use in an entire day. No one will remember defeating another monster in a video game, but lasting memories are made outdoors. Engaging face to face connects us in community with one another. Besides being just plain healthy, outdoor summer play creates summers worth remembering.
As summer begins, we know intuitively that encouraging our kids to play outside is an excellent habit to encourage. But what can we do to make this a regular part of the months ahead?
Set a standard in your family for all members to spend time outdoors daily. Yes, some kids will complain and yes, the weather will be warm. But, the more time our children spend outside the more they will discover the fun to be had outdoors. Summer gives us the chance to rediscover the simple joys to be found in running through sprinklers, playing barefoot, chasing fireflies!
While it makes sense to play in backyard, consider some front yard play, as well! Setting up soccer nets or wiffle ball bases in more obvious spots can encourage other kids in the neighborhood to join in. Make your outdoor fun obvious! Decorate the driveway or front sidewalk with chalk. Invite friends to come along. Let’s encourage our kids and lots of other kids to come back out to play!
Wonder, with your children, at God’s hand in Creation! All around us we can find ways to better understand our Creator. Note His attention to detail in the world. Join your children on a nature walk and see the plants and animals. Spend an evening beneath the stars and try to name them. Intentionally notice what God does all around us every day. Spending time outside with our children gives us the opportunity to bond together while learning more about ourselves, our world, and our God.
The summer months do not have to be immersed in electronics and entertainment-seeking. By making small, intentional changes, we can help our children create memories of summer adventures and enjoy each summer day. We can choose to save our summer from the complaints of boredom and help our families to discover that the world outside is ever-changing, amazing, and ours to discover. As parents, we help our children to discover the wonder we enjoyed growing up--playing outside, connecting with friends, and loving it all.
It is time to play outside!
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Rev. Deb Koster