Tips for encouraging your kids to play outdoors

kids playing outside

Getting kids out into the fresh air can be a faff, but there are ways to coax your children off the sofa without resorting to bribery. Honest.

How much time do children spend outdoors?

It can be hard getting children excited about getting out and about and smelling the roses – but what is the national norm for time spent in the Great Outdoors? Recent figures from the UK Time Use Survey give us some much-needed insight into the behaviour of children in the UK – with regards to average time spent outdoors and keeping active, compared with other activities:

  • Children aged eight to 15 spent just over an hour of their leisure time per day taking part in an outdoors activity, sports-related activity or travelling on foot or by bicycle.
  • They spent three times longer on sports and exercise activities (33 minutes) than entertainment and culture activities (11 minutes).
  • Boys spent 40 minutes per day on sports activities, compared to 25 minutes for girls.
  • Leisure time spent in parks, countryside, seaside, beach or coastal locations was 16 minutes per day.
  • Children reported greater enjoyment ratings when taking part in entertainment and culture activities (6.4 out of 7) and sports and exercise activities (6.3) than for other outdoor activities.

10 top tips

Great news if you already use the boot as a junk tardis

Great news if you already use the boot as a junk tardis

“In the summer I put some essentials in the boot – picnic blanket, frisbee, ball. That way if the sun ever comes out when we're out and about on the weekend we can head to the nearest beach or park and get some fresh air.”

Turn spin doctor - give the humble 'walk' a rebrand

Turn spin doctor - give the humble 'walk' a rebrand

“Get out there and have an adventure! It is always referred to as an adventure in our house, and never just going for a walk.”

Parklife palling? Try pastures new

Parklife palling? Try pastures new

“We live in London and get the map out to visit all the different parks. There's so much variety, and different types of play equipment in each one. The kids seem very happy with that and I also find it less boring.”

Invest in a capsule (waterproof) wardrobe

Invest in a capsule (waterproof) wardrobe

“There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing! Waterproof trousers were one of my best investments for the children.”

Be brave - risk the strop, and nuke the wifi

Be brave - risk the strop, and nuke the wifi

“My kids are at the age they really need to be persuaded to get outdoors. This is generally achieved by switching off the wifi router.”

Stretch your legs on the school run

Stretch your legs on the school run

“Much to my darling child's dismay, we've started to walk the school run – a good mile walk each way, up and down some very steep hills. I've already started to notice the difference – her skin looks better and she is clearly in good health.”

Fact: you're never too old to have fun on a scooter

Fact: you're never too old to have fun on a scooter

“My son has just outgrown his scooter, so I have got him a new one, and one for myself. I love that you can get so much further on them.”

Don't be afraid to employ child labour

Don't be afraid to employ child labour

“We've enlisted our son's help to get the garden of our new home into shape – lots of fresh air and exercise!”

Appeal to your child's - ahem - entrepreneurial spirit

Appeal to your child's - ahem - entrepreneurial spirit

“When our first-born didn't want to come with us walking the dog over the farmer's fields, we told her there was treasure and money buried there. She would bring her spade and we use to bury or chuck some coins on the floor for her to find!”

Of course, once they're out there you might have a different issue entirely

Of course, once they're out there you might have a different issue entirely

“No persuasion needed – it is harder to get them to come in!”