Outdoor Time & Behavior

Updated on April 13, 2012
M.T. asks from Cary, NC
55 answers

Hi ladies;

My son will be 3 in November. When he was younger I would rarely take him out of the house with very little playground activity. We would go for errands, grocery and that, but not much to the park or the yard (we don't have a fenced yard).

There was a time (around 2 maybe) when he was becoming a handful ball of energy. That's when I decided to take him out most days to burn off steam, even if it's just outside. I did notice some improvement in his behavior, but at times I just don't want to go anywhere and my chores are not always done. I am so not an outdoor person, but my son seems to be. I couldn't care less for walks or the park. To be honest (and I feel awful saying this) it is such a drag to take him out. We plan to put up a fence eventually so he doesn't wander and I can get other things done.

Other than this, I spend lots of indoor quality time with him and read to him a lot. He loves books. He will watch some videos, but not for very long.

Here is my concern and silly question. How much outdoor time does a 3 y/o need? Do YOU take your children out everyday?

Sorry this got long. I guess I just needed to whine.

TIA

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So What Happened?

Wow! Some posts are harsh and judgmental. Nevertheless, I thank you ladies for taking the time to reply and have 'globalized' your responses and suggestions to workout a plan that suits the two of us. Some particular posts shed a new perspective that was truly food for thought in that they are only little once and the building of memories, time going by fast and housework being there after I'm gone. I guess I omitted one important detail. I suffer from Graves Disease (thyroid) and I'm taking two medications for my blood pressure. Some days are very challenging because I am so worn out and 'down'. I am also an older Mom, so my energy levels are not like some of you younger ladies. And to those of you who suggested I would leave my child outside unattended, my house has an ample set of back windows that allow me to watch my child while I chop onions for dinner because you better believe I see that my hubby gets a piping hot dinner after a hard day's work and I like to provide him (and my son) with a clean, comfortable home to come to. It is the least I could do for him. So much for my being selfish as someone said. My son is always supervised and I'm a responsible/diligent parent. His health, development, skills and coping ability speak on their own.

I have been taking my son out at least three times a week for sometime now. It is on the days I don't that I feel guilt and I worry that this will deprive him in some way. I loved your suggestions, I will get our yard fenced and keep engaging with him as much as possible (like I have been anyway).

Thanks again for your replies and ideas. I loved them all.

Peace to all.
mt

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G.M.

answers from Raleigh on

THANK YOU!!!!! i hate takin my kid outside too!!!!! i cannot tell you how many breakdowns I have had over this. My son is 2 and LOVES to be outside and I hate it! I feel like such a bad mom because I'm denying him exercise and good outdoors play.

I know it's really good for him and I WANT him to run around and breath fresh air and play outside. I don't want him to become a couch potato, but I HATE GOING OUTSIDE! :)

I have found that i enjoy it way better if I have someone to talk too. I think my biggest thing, I don't know if you feel this way too - but I don't like going outside because I'm bored. My keeps saying "just take a book out with you" I can't read a book because - hello? - I have a 2 year old!

I enjoy it way better when the neighbors are home and I have someone to talk to. Do you feel that way? what is it about being outside that you don't like?

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T.C.

answers from Lexington on

My undergrad degree is in child development and I've worked in childcare. I think it's very important for kids to have outside time every day if possible. It's not only good for their physical development, but also for emotional, intellectual and social.

Do you have friends with kids close to his age? You could go to the park together. That way you have an adult to talk to which makes it more fun for you.

I plan to take my little one out every day after she is walking steadily.

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M.M.

answers from Memphis on

I don't know what other mothers do but i have 3 children 2 are grown now with kids of their own and a 5 year old. I have always taken them outside. Even before they could walk we would go out and have playtime on a blanket inthe yard. Children get Vitamin D from the sun. Yes they get it from their mile too but not enough. It doesn't have to be long. I had a cousin who never took her kids outside and it seemed like everytime she did let them go out they would end up getting sick. It's just my opinion that kids and outside go together unless there are medical conditions that prevent. Also you mention that you are going to get a fence so he can go out and you can get things done. It is just my personal opinion and we all know what people say about those but it sounds like you intend for him to be outside alone and 3 is definately too young to outside for any amount of time alone. I'm not passing judgement, just offering an opinion as I said.

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S.T.

answers from Charlotte on

hi M.,
you have a lot of answers on how important it is for both of you to spend some time outside. My english isn't that good, but I'll try, please forgive me.
Have you thought about checking your health. How is your energy level in general?
I'm an outdoors person myself and my little girl, but a year ago I was feeling like that, that it's a big issue to take her to the park or playdates, not to mention we were living in freezing Chicago... I didn't have enough energy and couldn't understand how moms of three or four kids go through day. I found out I was very sick and no MD could help me, all tests etc, didn't show anything.. It was a herbalist. I am still trying to solve my health issues and spend a lot of time for myself, there is no other way, I have to be healthy and strong for her. But I strongly believe that this shouldn't affect my child's life so I force myself to give her some happy time in the park or playdates. And of course this helps me too.
I don't want to give you wrong info,or stress, but if you feel you're not healthy enough, please have it checked.
I hope and wish it's nothing like that. Sometimes us, moms, tend to give everything to the family and forget to take care of ourselves.
If you need to discuss this more, feel free to send me a message.

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A.M.

answers from Louisville on

*M.- I just read some of the responses on here to your question and I can't believe how cruel some of these mom's can be. It makes me want to never ask a question on here again. Is their goal to belittle people to make themselves feel better? I have no idea. I do know that when someone thinks they have all the answers they become a very stupid person because they stop learning new things. I wonder which category they fall in.*

There are no silly questions.

Hello there!

I am a mother of two boys (4 and nearly 2) I also was a former pre-k teacher before I became a SAHM. When I worked in the center, we were told that it was a requirement to take the children out everyday- as long the temperature was above freezing. I thought that was a little extreme :) however, having two little energetic boys has taught me that they need this time. This is my kid's time to be loud and run, and when I give them time to do that outside, they seem more capable of listening the rest of the day. They also go down for nap easier.
I completely understand your feelings, even though we have a fence, my 4 year old wants to go in the front yard to ride his bike in the driveway and sidewalk. It's tedious to follow them around and make sure they don't take off down the road.
I try to get my kids out at least for 30 minutes to an hour everyday. If we're too busy- then I just don't worry about it. Do you have sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and other activities to do with him? You could also take him to the park as a change of pace. Sometimes I play tag with mine and just try to get them to run and chase me around for a bit. This really wears them out quick;)

I hope this helps, I am an outdoors person-but this week has wreaked havoc on my allergies and now I really don't want to be outside.

Have a great day,
A.

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W.M.

answers from Nashville on

I think that outdoor time is great for their imagination as they play in the yard and find things to explore, I think the fresh air is great, and getting out and exercising is great. So, with that being said, I agree with you on some points as far as having things to do. One of the main things I always have to do is going through our mail, newspaper, mags that are backed up, etc While my children are outside, I sit out there and go through all the piles of "paperwork" that we have laying around. I also will pay bills, make phone calls, etc Anything that can be done outside, I do while they play. My almost 3 yr old wants me to swing her which is a kink in my getting things done but I tell her I will swing her for 10 mins but then I am going to go and get things done while she plays. And...I remind myself that she is only young once and will not need me like this in the future...chores will wait and chores are not making memories. If you have a sand box, tricycle, etc he can do these things on his own w/ out your help. You can get him sidewalk chalk, bubbles, just kicking a ball...all things he can do while you sit on the porch and get things done while watching him. You can even get other things done that are not the daily routine but need to be done. Filing, (you can put things in piles for when you hit your file cabinet) put photos in albums, letters written to family, wrap presents, look up recipes for dinner, make your grocery list, play on a laptop, etc Just think about things you need to do around the house and what can be done outside. Give him at least 30-45 mins a day. You can even eat lunch outside, my kids love it! If you take him out before his nap, he may be more tired and sleep better. Also, using time at the park, greenway, etc is a good time to catch up with your friends too. have your friends and their kids meet you so the kids can play and you can catch up. You mention reading to him a lot, you can read to him outside too. The weather is perfect now, not too long and it will be too cold to go outside. Take some time to get yourself some fresh air too!

W.

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L.S.

answers from Nashville on

I have a neighbor that is exactly like that, so don't feel wierd. Do you happen to know of any other SAHMs in your area that you could go with or meet at the park? If he loves the outdoors (I do!) taking him to the park will be the best quality you can give him. Push through the difficulty because it is worth watching his eyes light up at new discoveries, especially with the weather cooling and leaves changing. Get a scrap book and go leaf hunting. Take your focus off how much you don't like doing something and make it educational for him. Get him a bug cage and let him gather little bugs outside to examine. He wants to be with you and you are his first teacher. Also, if you are at the park, he'll eventually find others to play with and let you off the hook a bit. That is very healthy for him. Could you afford a preschool a couple of days a week? If he has energy to burn, a play group like that will also help his curosity and love for activity and give you a break. I will warn you about one thing...if you get a fence that does not mean that you can just let him out while you get stuff done around the house. He will need supervision and he will get bored if left to himself. Try to at least set up a play date for him a couple of times a week to play outside. Otherwise you'll need to go out there and throw him the ball, push him on the swings or play with trucks in the sand. He's only little once. The chores will always be there. Capture his curiosity now and enjoy it. Also, try making a bit of a schedule. If he enjoys cartoons in the morning, take that time to do laundry or mop a floor. Make a colorful chart to show him when it is his time to go somewhere (not everyday)and make it where he will really look forward to it. Having it scheduled may help you get in the right frame of mind. If it rains, make a lunch date and take him to MacDonalds show he can play on the play yard. Take a good book because he will find others to play with for sure. Good luck. This time with him will pass so fast. He'll be in kindergarten soon and you will wonder where all the time disappeared.

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A.U.

answers from Asheville on

When my son arrived home, one of our elderly neighbors gave me the best advice - take a walk with him every day and the fresh air will help him sleep better. It totally worked. I think outdoor time is important for all the reasons people are saying (healthy immune system, fresh air, energy release and Vitamin D) but I get where you're coming from. It's overwhelming to be a mom some days...you have things you need to get done and honestly going outside sometimes takes a lot of work from us as parents. When you're already worn-down, tired from sleep depravation and need to start dinner you don't want to run around the yard wrangling a three year old while you worry about all the things you still need to get done.

I'd say take everyone's advice and fit it together in a way that works for you. Cut out some "me" time for you each day and sometimes pair it with your son's outdoor time. Catch up with a friend on the phone while your son plays at the park for example, or meet a friend there so the kids can play together. But definitely look at indoor activities too now that fall is here. Gymnastics classes are terrific. My almost two yr old son loves it and it totally wears him out after 45 minutes. You can join structured classes (like The Little Gym or Gymboree) or one of our local gymnastics studios has open toddler time four days a week that we go to on a whim sometimes. The kids bounce on trampolenes, crawl through tunnels, walk the balance beam, etc. in a safe environment. I basically just have to follow my son around as he free-plays. I also just signed up for swim classes which are indoor and completely wear my energetic son out.

I had to step back and look at this hour each day as part of my "job" and as an actual chore otherwise I found that I ignored it. And I am mentally better when I do one energy-releasing activity with my son each day...getting rid of that guilt and energy is huge. :)

Good luck!
A.

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D.B.

answers from Charlotte on

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L.S.

answers from Johnson City on

I can certainly understand where you are coming from. I used to feel that way too. I have four young children and it always seemed overwhelming to take them all outside. We don't have a fenced in yard either and I felt like I was always chasing after one of them to keep them from wandering off or getting into something they shouldn't be in. It was difficult to take them to the park by myself too. (And I really hated going outside when it was real cold!) Because it stressed me out so much, I didn't take them out very often. However, at my 2 year old son's checkup, they said that his lab work showed that his Vitamin D level was very low. One of his legs appeared bow legged and the doctor felt it was due to the lack of Vitamin D. I started giving him all kinds of food that had added Calcium/Vit. D but at the next dr.'s visit-it was still lower than normal. Then I realized it was probably because he wasn't getting outside in the sun much. So I started taking my kids outside a little everyday (unless it was bad weather). His Vit. D levels increased and soon were back to normal. All four of my kids loved that we were going outdoors more. They seem much healthier, happier and well behaved. They had a chance to get some of their energy out and be loud if they wanted. I learned to like it too. I can't take a book or do other things that would take my attention away because they are still young. There are plenty of easy things they can do outside like run, find small rocks, pick up leaves or acorns etc. But we also have fun playing little games, taking nature walks, and riding tri-cycles. Sometimes we use side walk chalk, blow bubbles or fingerpaint outside. For one of their birthdays we got a little sandbox and they really love that! I now enjoy the time we spend outside and look forward to it as much as they do. I think that maybe with time you might enjoy it more too. Best wishes!

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J.H.

answers from Wilmington on

At the pre school my daughter attends they are required by law to take them out once in the AM and once in the PM. This is at a minimum and is a state requirement. I would assume that this is based on some sort of statistic for children's health, so I would base your schedule on that.
As for it being hard to handle I can relate as I have one with attention/hyper issues that started around the age of your son. Not to scare you, but the best medicine is always exercise. Monkey Joes is great on Sunday mornings because there isn't anyone there at all and the little guys can actually get around. I have also enrolled my kids into Karate and that seems to work wonders for energy and focus-even at a young age. Try to google crisp karate and then go to that site. I believe classes start at the age your son is. Good luck.

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J.M.

answers from Memphis on

When my 4 yr old was a baby and colicky the only thing that calmed him down was going outside, he was born in feb so the wether was usually nice. I use to pace around the pool in our backyard with him resting on my shoulder. He's always loved outdoors. My 11 mth old was born in the fall so going outside with him was really good because it was getting cold. SO now my 4 yr loves outside and my 11 mth old doesn't really. However we do usually spend time outside. We take the dog for a walk every morning. We walk slow, my 4 yr old usually trots ahead, stops and waits, trots some more. It takes us 20 min. to get around our extremely large block. A lot of days this is our only outdoor time. My 4yr old goes to MDO 2 days a week though and they have playground time each day weather permitting. If the weather's bad they play in the gym so still get the activity. We have a fenced backyard and my oldest does go outside and play with the dog by himself 1-2 times a week, usually just for about 10 min. and then his bored with it.

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A.C.

answers from Wilmington on

Dear M.,
It looks like you've received a wide array of perspectives and opinions already, but this was my experience:
When my 3 kids were younger, I tried to employ the concept of 15 minutes outdoors minimum per day, no matter what. This could be a real [email protected]#$.
We lived up north until the youngest was 3. This huge project (change 2 diapers and "make sure you go potty now", snacks, snowsuits/mittens/hats/etc.) had the potential to take an hour to prepare for.
I don't know how I came up with the "15 minute" number. But since then, Seasonal Affective Disorder has been identified, it's been determined that we need the vitamin D from at least 15 minutes of sun/day in order to absorb calcium, and we don't know what scientists will report about the sun's health benefits next year.
I could never "relax with a book" while they were outside, as evidenced by the fact that my kids survived their childhoods :)!
PS-My two sons have since earned their Eagle Scout awards, meaning that they are adept at wilderness survival skills. My daughter is a long distance runner, and my stepson and my 18 year old just returned from surfing in Indonesia.

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P.H.

answers from Clarksville on

I take my 2 y/o daughter out almost every day, since she's a real outdoor-child. We'll go for walks through the neighborhood and such, but sometimes it's all a bit much. Yesterday for example she was at daycare for 4 hours. I KNOW that she's spent at least 1.5 hours outside on the playground, but when we came home, she still wanted to go for a walk. When we finally did, it was almost dark and I had the hardest time getting her back in the house. I guess there's no head-on recipe for how much time they NEED outside. I just know mine has to go out at least once a day, even if it's just staying in the front yard, with some chalk and/or a ball...usually half an hour of that is plenty at a time, too...

I know I'm not very helpful, but I can sure understand you!

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S.P.

answers from Nashville on

Hi Tia,
Unless you truly are an outdoor person who thrives being outside, I think most moms feel as you do from time to time.

I, too, struggled with these feelings when my daughters were younger. But I knew how important it was for them to get fresh air outside, so I got as creative as possible in dealing with my boredom/discomfort out there.

It has paid off, because now my daughters are very active, and love to play outside, and because they are older, it is easier to let them play out there while I keep an eye on things from inside. And sometimes I still join them out there, because playing outside has begun to grow on me, too!

1. Remember that they are only this young for a very short time in the whole scheme of things. Once your son gets older you and more independent, you won't have to be hovering around him making sure he is safe every second. At this age, this is a drag, but it can be fun, too, in the right circumstances. So know that as he gets older and makes friends at school or in the neighborhood, he will have a buddy or two to play with, hopefully sometimes in their yard as well as yours.

2. Obviously a fence is a major expense, and your neighborhood might not even allow them, but it is something to consider as an investment, especially if you are going to have more children.

3. Get to know other moms from your neighborhood, church, preschool or work, and see if you can set up playdates. This should take the load off for 1/2 of the time.

4. Take up a hobby that you can do outdoors while you are watching your little one at the park or in your backyard. I would knit, read and write letters while my little ones played outside. And, of course, going with a friend helps and you get adult conversation as a bonus. You can always make phone calls, too.

5. When the weather is rainy, snowy or just plain rotten, we found a great solution that gives them exercise indoors. We bought each girl a mini trampoline. We keep them under our bed or in the garage, and pull them out all the time. They still use them. It helps them let off steam safely (because they're small). And they're only $30-$50, which is a small investment for a lot of entertainment and exercise for them.

I'm sure there are many other great ideas out there that I haven't even begun to think of. I would actually love to hear some.

There are also computer games (when he gets old enough) that incorporate more physical activity into the3 computer experience.

I have to say, though, like several posters have mentioned, outdoors is the best place for them. For the last 2 years, I also take walks with them in the neighborhood for about an hour before bedtime. We talk, point out things, and get to spend a lot of quality time doing this.

As you can see, things have improved for me since I was a stay-indoor SAHM. It was worth the extra effort, and I have benefited from it, as well, by losing a few pounds along the way. You and anybody else can do it, too. It's always hardest to change former habits and ways of thinking at the beginning.

Blessings to you and your family

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D.B.

answers from Memphis on

Little boys need to be outside as much as they can. They need to burn off all that energy & the fresh air will do them a world of good. Parks are great places to go especially if you can find other moms to meet up with.

I would suggest fencing in your yard as soon as you can, but sit outside with him too, not just leave him on his own all the time. You don't want a child that prefers indoors & sitting on his can all day, we have too much childhood obesity in this country as it is. Put off video games & TV watching as long as possible because trust me, the day will come when you are forcing them to go outside, which is a sad testament to our society today. My mom use to have to drag us in every day!!

Involve him in your chores, he's not too young to help. Then set a time for that & when the time is up, you go out. Play time is crucial for development of their brains & muscles. And it keeps the little boys off the furniture...usually, LOL.

Best of luck & enjoy him!

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K.K.

answers from Huntington on

I take my son out just about everyday atleast for about 4 or 5 hour he just turned 3 in June I have too LOL sometimes we stay out just about all day just depends on him I really dont like the outdoors either but i clean when he naps or sleeps and I figure it like this he is only going to be little once and eventually it will be so "uncool" to be even seen outstide with mom so enjoy your time you have with him now

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K.M.

answers from Charlotte on

Hi, As a preschool teacher and former nanny with 10 + years of full time experience with toddlers and twos, I understand how challenging they can be (and trying to get chores etc done).  In my experience, the more outside time the better.   If your child was in a licensed child care facility the minimum amount of outside time would be 30 min in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon.  Some kids need more.

One family I nannied for was in an apartment for several months in the up-town area of Charlotte (0 outdoor play space)while looking for a house.  I found it helpfull to schedule play dates at area parks so the kids had some one to play/run around with.  They always took GREAT naps on those days which gave me time to get household stuff done and still have time to put my feet up for awhile. (The oldest child did not sleep much if at all on rainy days or if we did primarily indoor activities.) Alternate were you go to prevent boredom for your child and yourself.
If you would prefer you could also take him to an indoor playroom at a local recreation center.  Most Charlotte/Meck rec centers have playrooms geared toward children aged infant-5 years ($1 admission per visit). This does help, but does not have the same effect as being in fresh air.

I know this is long, but I love sharing this. I read a study when completing my credentials about a toddler program that invited players of a NBA team (pro basketball) to come spend the day in the classroom. Each player was assigned a child to imitate the exact movements of the child. These seasoned athletes were worn out before half the morning was over! Keep in mind that young children will expell excess energy in negetive ways if not given appropriate outlets. Hope this helped!

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R.P.

answers from Raleigh on

HI M.,

I dislike the outdoors too! But I know how important it is for children to run and get the fresh air. The book "Last Child in the Woods" will really set you straight about why kids need the outdoors. But - for you and me this really isn't what we want to hear. Ugh, more outdoor time. I don't know if it's possible for you in your area, but here where I am, we have a wonderful Waldorf-inspired nursery school. My son will be 3 in January. He goes 3 mornings each week and they play outside 95% of the time - even in the rain! He adores it. Our lives have been much easier with him able to get his outside fix in this way. I do take both of my children on nature walks and I take a walk for exercise every morning with my son (he's in the stroller) and I look for festivals and things outdoors on weekends. I also make sure my husband helps out by taking them on excursions on the weekends.

But I hear your pain, girl! I would love to stay inside most of the time, if it worked =) Good luck!!

R.
http://www.noblemother.com

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B.F.

answers from Memphis on

My son is almost two and loves being outside, I think most children do and I think it is very important that you do take them outside. I can sympathize on the no fence issue as we do not have one either but it's quality time with your child doing something he enjoys doing. Those chores can wait, the dishes aren't going anywhere but your son is getting older every day. I understand your need to vent but personally I think you are doing your son a great disservice if you deny daily outings. Get that fence up and maybe you'll both be happier! :)

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L.R.

answers from Memphis on

Yes, I take my kids outside every day. I do feel it is very important. Aside from the bonus of excercise it also is freedom from the confinement of 4 walls. Sometimes I play with them and then there are times I am making a grocery list, going through mail or even just catching up on my reading. Do you have outside toys? A small tricycle or scooter or soccer/baseball. These toys can strenghten his balance and coordination. It may even make it more fun for you. Sometimes we don't get the toys out and it is amazing what kids can do with sticks and acorns. My youngest son is 4 and going outside is also a great reward for cleaning his room or finishing his study time. You don't have to go to a park or on a walk anywhere or even need a fence. Try eating your lunch outside it such a treat for kids. They really think it is so cool to spread a blanket on the grass and eat their sandwich. A bonus for you in making outside time part of your day...I guarantee he will take a longer nap! Then you will have extra time to finish your chores. Good Luck.

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M.T.

answers from Raleigh on

Well I can say I have a 3 and 5 yr old and I also am not an outdoor person. My kids love to be outside. I sacrifice for them. It helps them burn off steam and tires them out for bedtime. On days they do not get to go out I can tell the difference. They fight more and are fussy. My husband was just home on leave and built them a swing set with a playhouse and a trampoline. They have so much fun. I know trampolines are not recommended for children under 6 but we do a lot of things that are not recommended. They have lots of fun and are always monitored very closely. As for the chores or work that needs to be done....I look at it this way....It will be there when I am gone. I do what I have to and though my floor may need mopped or whatever didnt get done.....My kids had fun. When I die my kids are not going to say "wow mommy's floors were dirty!" I want them to say "wow mommy was fun and spent time with me....I must have been special to her!"

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S.M.

answers from Greensboro on

M., I have very active children and from the time they were 1 and 3 years old, we were outside for hours every day. But, I love to be outside and they did, too. I know how you feel, though, the playground can be boring. I'd always bring a book or some diversion. The best way to be outside is to have a playdate. Then, your son has a playmate to keep him occupied and you can either read or talk to other moms. The time will fly!

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S.U.

answers from Raleigh on

I've got some of this in me as well, M.. I just never really enjoyed getting any/all of my kids outside, it just seemed like extra work and it was so tiring. Plus (unlike inside) there was nothing that interested me out there, so it was a bit boring for me, while fun for them. Sometimes it just flat stressed me out. I can see it in my older ones now that they have been 'sheltered' and don't love to go outside as much as other kids, so I know that's probably my fault. But they do enjoy it when there's someone to play with, etc. I do think a moderate amount is healthy and necessary, so I'd say to schedule some time and literally make yourself get him out some. Some kids just love the outdoors and I can't really blame them! I hear ya though. Good luck!

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B.L.

answers from Jacksonville on

I will admit that I am just like you - a huge fan of the great indoors! Taking my kids to the park, unfortunately, is about a quarterly event. It does help to burn off energy, though.

It saves my sanity to be able to send both my boys outside, and they love it. In our last house (we just moved across the country in Sept) we did not have a fence either, but between the 2.5 year old and the 5.5 year old I trained them to not wander off. I had to keep an eye on them from inside though. We were in a cul-de-sac, and they spent hours a day (in the cool summers of the Oregon Coast) out in the driveway and the cul-de-sac learning and riding their bikes and trikes and scooters. In the back yard there was no fence either; we butted up against a common green area and other neighbors yards. They loved to play and explore, and there were interesting things in our yard and the neighbor's (so I had to keep an eye on what they were doing). If we were there longer we probably would have had a fence put in, and gotten a swingset and such. We were there for a year.

In the house previous to that, we had a fenced backyard and did get a cheap used swingset, and a used (yardsale) little tykes type thing for toddlers that they could climb and slide and hide in... They played a lot on all that, although it was hot in Albuquerque in the summer. But we had to leave the big stuff behind in the move. Now we have a fence in the back, but no toys back there, so he only wants to play in the front on his trike/scooter/bike. We are in a cul-de-sac again, so I'm trying to train him to stay close to the house. It's harder to see out the windows of this house, though, so we need to get outdoor equipment for the back yard, which is fenced. Also, with the older one back in school, I've finally given in and am thinking of getting a smallish dog for the boys to play with. The little guy had been bored much of the day with his built-in playmate gone, although he seems to be adjusting better, especially if he gets a nap (then he's not so clingy and whiney all day). Also, we picked up a cheap kids pool at the end of the season for $6, and they've been getting a lot of mileage out of it already on the back patio.

The worst thing in the world for young kids is TV, so that's really good for him if he's not into it much. To keep him busy, find simple things for him to do, like cut a slot in the lid for a jar (like a peanut butter jar) and give him a bunch of pennies to put in it (if he wouldn't put them in his mouth). Or give him books to look at, or give him (bigger) legos and teach him the colors and maybe he'll spend time sorting them. If you get a piece of particle board, there is paint you can buy to make it into a chalk board (my mom did that and we spent a lot of time drawing on it). Cars, blocks and dinosaurs can be fun too. I find things at yardsales, so if they aren't a hit, I'm not out much money. Also, he can help you with little things like taking his folded laundry to his drawers, putting wet laundry into the dryer as you hand it to him, handing you dishes from the dishwasher, cleaning up his messes and putting his toys away, etc.

I think it does help to run some sort of errand or have some sort of outing once a day, to get me out and maybe get a little exercise. Radio Flyer makes a great little three-wheeled scooter for toddlers. It is usually $40-50 but I got it on sale (in Oregon) for $20, and so he can ride that and go on a walk with me (which I should be doing). Really and truly, I'm the world's worst procrastinator and I'm not a bit disciplined with my housework, but I don't feel too bad about it if I do get the kids out and doing something. And, it helps a ton if you can swap babysitting with a friend in order to do errands (like once a week for a few hours at a time). My kids love love love that, and it's a built in play date, where you don't feel like you're sitting around shooting the bull for hours getting nothing done, and it's so much easier to do errands/shopping without the kids. When I'm watching someone else's kids, I actually get more done around the house because they are all occupied.

In January, I found a dance class to put my 5-year-old in, because I didn't want to sit in the Oregon rain all winter/spring for little league and soccer games. So I got to be indoors, and he got lots of attention as the only boy, and loved it! My husband wasn't so sure about it, but we all enjoyed the recital in June. He has mild hemophilia, though, so that's actually part of the reason we haven't put him in contact sports yet, and we're not sure it would be a good idea to get him into them now while they're fairly harmless, only to take him out when he's older and enjoys them and they're not as harmless.

Not to say that you're little guy is terrible, but John Rosemond has an excellent book called Making the Terrible Twos Terrific, and it has lots of ideas for teaching them to be busy...

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J.C.

answers from Greenville on

Make time everyday!!! Learn to love it. He will not be at home with you much longer and he needs to burn off his energy...he was made that way! Enjoy his boyishness and learn from him. Take something with you to the park that you can work on while he is playing IF he has others to play with...knitting, reading, journaling, Christmas cards...
If he wants/needs to play with you, make up games and wear arm or leg weights and use it to exercise your own body while you spend quality time with him. The dividends will be great! Enjoy and spend well!

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K.H.

answers from Huntington on

I am also the mom of a singleton not much older than yours. (We don't have a fence, either). Just a couple of ideas that might make outside more bearable for you.

*Sandbox for him. My son LOVES the sandbox (we actually own a box in the yard and a sandtable that stays under out porch for rainy day play). Give him some contruction matchbox cars and I will bet he'll have a ball.

*Reading/Knitting/etc for you. While he plays, I usually read a book or magazine. I suppose you could insert your own hobby here. I actually used to love outside time and would pull my chair right up to the sandbox and read (one of my guilty pleasures).

Good luck!!!

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O.S.

answers from Charlotte on

M.,
my son also will be 3 in november i also have an 8 month old but my son loves outdoors if hes not outside hes not really happy he usually is outside with his dad alot when his dad was laid off but his dad is back working now so now hes either out with me or my 19yr old stepson but he loves just sitting around outside we dont have a fenced in yoard but we live in the country so he pretty much runs around with no worry hope this helps but outdoors is really good for kids

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A.L.

answers from Knoxville on

M.,
I have a little boy who just turned 4 and a little girl who will be 3 in November and I have found that being outside stimulates there minds much more then being inside. If he enjoys books like my two do, then try and put a blanket outside and read to him on the blanket and point things out to him while reading. My kids love this its like they get involved more then just listening. I hope this has helped you.

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A.B.

answers from Charlotte on

Wow, who would've thought that a question about outdoor play would generate so many strong opinions!

I thought you were courageous for admitting you feel like it's a drag....an opinion that obviously garners dissent here.

You've received a lot of great ideas to try. I hope one of your earlier posts about trying to arrange a play date came to fruition. In my experience, those things about raising children that we find to be "a drag" can actually become enjoyable when we're doing them with others - but you already knew that.

Are you feeling overwhelmed with being a sahm? It can be very stressful, and it seems like you've had to adjust to changing your own biological sleep cycle. Are mornings getting any easier for you? Just curious, as poor sleep can make *everything* seem like a "drag".

I hope you find a way to have more joy in your life where your toddler is concerned. I'm sure you will - we all have to find our own way. Best of luck to you.

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R.W.

answers from Charlotte on

I didn't have a chance to read all the responses, but I wanted to tell you about myself. I, too, am like you and can't stand to be outside. I would rather be in reading or watching TV, etc. But my kids LOVE being outside. I have a girl 11, and 2 boys 9 and almost 5. They love to go out. My husband and I are very protective of our children because we know how society is at this period of time. There are too many dangers out there to let our children run loose through the neighborhood and I live in a very safe neighborhood, but you never know when a molester or kidnapper may come by. I know some think they can let their kids out in the morning and they return home for dinner, but mine don't go anywhere without me, therefore, I am outside with my kids too. I may not be active and running around with them, but I will take out a magazine or a good book and keep on eye on them. I may also do a little yard work while they are out there. My kids know their boundaries and limits and they stay within them. I used to stress out about not having my chores done -- you know what, your kids will be gone someday and that mess in your house will still be there in some form. I now let it go and get to it when I can. I know I am not the world's best housekeeper, but my kids are happy and safe and my friends know me and if they stop by and I have to move stuff off the couch for them to sit, they still love me just the same! If not, they are not true friends! Have fun with your child outside and don't worry about the house!!!

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S.D.

answers from Nashville on

My children were always better behaved when they spent at least one hour per day outside. When he gets to be 4 or 5 you can sign your "outdoor" child up for sports--soccer, baseball, football. He had 3 "outdoor" boys and they all loved sports. They were always much better behaved when they were playing a sport and expending some of that "boy" energy every day. It is much more interesting as a parent to get them outside and involved in sports. It gives your something to do--watching them score soccer goals, hit a baseball, make a tackle-- while they are outside.

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K.B.

answers from Johnson City on

M.,

I am very much like you I don't like the outside espcially in the summer and I never have. My son loves the outdoors and could spend every day all day even in the rain out. I simply didn't take him out. He got to go out and play at daycare and if his daddy wanted too he would take him out. When he would spend the day at his Ganny's she would take him out. Now that it is cooler weather I don't mind as much. I just don't want you too feel bad like some of the other mothers may have made you feel. You are not in this boat alone. Do what you can do and let it be, he will turn out just fine.

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L.B.

answers from Knoxville on

Assign some of these chores to your significant other if there is one.
Childhood obesity (as well as adult obesity) is an epidemic in this country. You BOTH need some kind of physical activity. It promotes better sleep at night, increases concentration, & you look & feel better.
When you have a child it's rarely about you, it's almost always about them so get out of the house. Enjoy your time together while you have it!
L.

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M.L.

answers from Nashville on

Hello Tia

I think it is important for a little boy to play outside. They need to burn off steam and to get exercise. Maybe try getting him a bike this might help and maybe you can get a bike also.

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T.C.

answers from Knoxville on

M.,

Since I just attended a workshop related to children and nature as it relates to learning science, here are some of the things learned:

Benefits of children going outside -
improved cognitive function
improved problem solving
physical fitness
reduce negative stress

Hopefully you can find some outdoor things that you enjoy with your son. Throwing balls? Visiting a zoo?

If you cannot bring yourself to go outside very often, could you find a gym where you could take your son or a clean indoor play area (such as McDonalds or Chik-Fil-A)?

I wish you success!
T.

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E.M.

answers from Louisville on

kids need to be able to go outside. its kind of sad that hes just now going outside! even if you dont have a fenced in yard you should be able to sit outside with him while he runs around or rides a bike. we dont have a fenced in front yard and our 18 month old stays away from the street im sure he would understand by age 3. im not saying dont watch him of course but let him go outside and chase a ball or ride a bike! and yes kids should go outside everyday for at least 30 min,(its even required by daycares and schools) hope this helps! and you know what they say about a clean house its a sign of a boring person! spend time with your kids the mess will be there later i promise! lol

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J.H.

answers from Raleigh on

Outdoor play and learning is soooo important for children! To get outside without getting too dirty, you could take your child to nature education classes at a local nature center, or join an outdoor playgroup -- let me know if you'd like suggestions, just tell me the area you live in

In his recent book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, author Richard Louv claims that according to recent research, a lack of direct contact with nature is leaving our children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, performing poorly in school and more stressed than a generation ago.
(this is from the environmental educator in me, but it is a great book I highly recommend)

Good luck, and happy trails! Have fun with your little boy!
J.

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S.L.

answers from Chattanooga on

Don't feel bad. I am an outdoor person but hated being outside when it was so blistering hot. I too would take my daughter out with me to run errands, go shopping, etc. Her dad would take her outside to play when he got home for a bit. What might help with getting your child outside and be fun for you is to joing a mom's group or a playdate in your area. I joined one in March and we do things once a week at least and sometimes 2 and 3 times. It's nice because I've gained very nice friendships and my child gets time with someone other than me, builds friendships, learns to share and play. It might be more fun for you to because you can chit chat and enjoy time with adults as well as your child. Go to www.meetup.com and look up playdates under "parenting" and see what's in your area. I promise, it will be worth it.

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J.L.

answers from Charlotte on

Hi M.,

One option you might consider is an indoor playground. They have them at a lot of malls and are they are free (most of the time). This way your son can get the exercise he needs and you don't have to be outdoors.

J. (mother of 3 1/2 year old girl)

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M.R.

answers from Wheeling on

I probably don't take my son (4) outside as much as I should, either.

There have been studies done on the subject though- and they overwhelmingly suggest that outdoors time daily is a very good, healthy thing. It's been proven to prevent obesity, encourage healthy sleep patterns, and improve social behavior.

So, while you don't have to take him out every day, it's probably a good idea to give him some form of physical activity at least five days a week. I tend to take my son to play places at restaurants on rainy days- we don't order a ton of junk food, we go more for the interaction.

If you ever want some interaction for your son (and yourself at the same time), I'd be happy to arrange a playdate for him and my son to play together.

M.

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K.S.

answers from Raleigh on

To me, outdoor time for a child is sooo important. There is so much to be learned and enjoyed, and the physical energy he burns is very important. Find a nice park, and go when there are other young children there. You can sit on a bench and look at a magazine. Why isn't he in a good preschool? He will get interaction and outdoor playtime there too. I always took mine out in the Am and again in the PM. I had a fenced yard, and would sit in a yard chair if I was tired. They are so much better when they go back in.

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V.C.

answers from Louisville on

M.,
I would like to make a suggestion but by all means do what is best for you and your family. I was wondering if you sought out a MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers) there are several around town,(Mom's meeting other Mom's and the children are in a quality childcare where you are.) also what about the possibility of a Mothers Day Out (MDO) program that lasts only a few hours he is with other children and you are FREE to do what you need?
It appears and I could be totally wrong, but you are kinda bored and it seems he could be as well.

I think you may need those other crucial mom friends to relate and socialize with and if and when you meet up, the children could play and socialize as well.

There is a possibility that he is "needing" that time outside as behavior and such for inside is supposed to be different, use your inside voice, don't run around etc... where when the kids are outside that other side of a child is unleashed and WOW... it can be overwhelming.

I say this as we homeschool but we are outside a lot exploring and doing things hands on, something they need to do.

I don't know how old you are but kids take a lot of energy but it is energy well spent.. after all you are making memories with him... you can do arts/crafts stuff and let him go out outside get some leaves then you can do a rubbing or paint the leaf and press it onto paper etc.. this way he is outside but doing something as well.

I think once you get 'plugged' in somewhere in town, this will be a great benefit to you both.

Always, do what is BEST for YOU and YOUR family.

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M.B.

answers from Charlotte on

my son just turned 2 and we have been going out as much as possible since he was very small, parks or just outside. but i also love to be outside so i guess that makes a difference. it does seem to help when they can get out some and not be cooped up inside all day.

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D.P.

answers from Asheville on

I didn't read ALL the other responses, but MOPS (Mothers of Pre Schoolers) is a great group to join. That way your child is around other children, you get a chance to meet other moms, and do different activities, necessarily always outdoors. Check out the one in your area, try it and see if it works for you and your preschooler!!

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J.L.

answers from Raleigh on

M. - I take my 4 year old and 2 year old outside every day - rain or shine, hot or cold. The more time outside, the better! You probably aren't alone in your desire not to go outside. Do you have a yard that you can fence, maybe put a playset? I think if you can push yourself to take him out for a while in the morning and afternoon, you'll see a BIG difference.

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G.W.

answers from Clarksville on

Okay, I am taking my deep yoga breath so that I can say this calmly. OUTSIDE IS THE PLACE TO BE!!! Okay, how did I do? One more breath, outside is a wonderful and natural and needed place for your child. Please read The Happiest Child on the Block, as the doctor who wrote it explains it very well, but to condense the message, outside is essential to good development. It is only in the last 100 years that we have really migrated indoors, our instinct says to be outside and move. In this age of childhood obesity, even the government says at least an hour of activity a day at a minimum. Give your child the biggest and best and lifelong gift of outdoor activity and good health. He will eat, sleep, and act better. Don't worry about the house; it won't get as dirty if he is outside playing. Please, please, please put aside your doubts and inhibitions, and get outside with your child. PLEASE!!

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W.V.

answers from Little Rock on

its ok im a dad my wifes right here we both agree a child needs sun to provide vitamins he or she might need depending on the weather i think a kid should have all he wants but if thats not possible two hour would be exceptible its good for them fresh air excersize sun use sunblock dont take them out during the hottest part of the day i was just thinking of ways to keep him busy this summer hes been in preschool all year an its time for some father son time fishing and camping is a sure thing but i need some ideas for home

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K.S.

answers from Huntington on

There's certainly no "quota", although everyone needs a certain amount of sunshine to even process specific vitamins, as well as to regulate brain functions.

The more important issue is that a parent has to learn that parenting is about meeting the child's needs, not satisfying our wants. There is always going to be something that is beneficial to him that isn't interesting or enjoyable to you. That's just a reality of life.

Your description indicated that you do benefit from his outdoor time by way of his expending energy. Try to look at the positive side of the situation more than the negatives. Obviously, factors like weather, illness, appts., etc. will alter your routine, but it does sound as though he benefits from his outdoor time, physically, as well as emotionally/mentally.

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A.D.

answers from Charlotte on

I know where you are coming from. I have 4 boys and 1 girl. They love to play outside and I tend to like the indoors. I would suggest trying for at least 30 min. a day and progress as much as you can. There was a recent study I heard about men needing Vitamin D and the only way to absorb it is through sunlight. It prevented Prostate or Colon cancer, sorry can't remember which one.
It is important for many reasons to let him play outside so please just bite the bullet and take him out. :)

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T.E.

answers from Nashville on

Hi M.,

Yes, I do take my kids out. Daily physical exercise is a must for everyone - moms included. When he becomes an adult these experiences that he has had with you setting an example of moving around a little everyday will stay with him. And he will pass it along to his children. You don't have to go outside however its a wonderful time to get to know the world around you.

I suggest that you do it for him and you make it fun for you. What do you enjoy doing. Listening to music? Take some ear plugs and plug one side in, Do you enjoy window shopping. Walk around in a mall. It's also a great time to talk to your son. Walk and talk about when you were young. Talk about the flowers and count the petals. I love the outdoors but honestly I don't always feel like going out. But I just suck it up and go. It sounds like you have made it a habit to avoid going to the park and doing outside activities. Is there a deeper reason than you just don't like to go? Did your parents take you or (in my generation) send you?

There are also classes you can enroll him in where he can dance, do karate, basketball, football, even at age three. Now he wants to go but later on if he does not develop the habit he will not want to go outside and miss all of those experiences and health benefits.

Perhaps you can start with once or twice a week.

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K.B.

answers from Jacksonville on

M.,
When I had my first son, I was talking to a friend of the family about not getting my housework done because my son wanted to play. She said "When you are in your 60's and you are looking back on your life with your children, do you want to think about the dustbunnies you swept out from underneath the bed or the enjoyment of watching your children run and play and remember the sound of their laughter." I have tried to remember that whenever the kids wanted to go to the park or outside to play and I had laundry to fold or dishes to do. It was hard, but my children are all teenagers now and I wouldn't trade the memories for anything.

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L.O.

answers from Charlotte on

I made sure each of my boys had at least an hour of very active play each day, unless it was pouring rain, every day. With my older son, he would play for an hour in the morning and again in the afternoon.

Perhaps you could hire a sitter for an hour or two a day to take your son to the park or actively play with him in your backyard. Even with a fenced yard you can't just leave a child out there on their own--too many things could happen for which you'd never be able to forgive yourself. My oldest was 8 before he was allowed to play without constant supervision in our yard and even then, I set a timer and would check on him every 10-12 minutes.

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J.G.

answers from Nashville on

I have a son who will be 3 this month and a daughter who is almost 4 months and we practically live outside. Why don't you try bring out a lawn chair and sitting while he plays? You can even bring stuff outside to do i.e. read mail, clip coupons, make phone calls, etc. I think it is very important for children and adults alike to get some fresh air and exercise everyday. Even if you spent an hour each day outside playing I think it would do wonders for you and your child. I'm sure you want him to grow up with a wide aray of interests as well as a love for the outdoors. If he's not exposed to it now he may never enjoy it later. It will be good for you too! :o)

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K.S.

answers from Hickory on

Because I work full-time, my daughter has been in day care since the age of 10 weeks. She was taken out twice daily for about 45 minutes unless it was very cold or very hot.

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