Posts tagged: outdoor activities

Our New Wheels!

By , July 9, 2007 11:31 am

Yesterday my 5 year-old son reached an exciting milestone: riding a two-wheel bicycle! We had been for a bike ride (early-to avoid the heat), and one of his training wheels was so worn down that it was splitting. Riding behind him, I noticed that he wasn’t using them much anyhow. So, ignoring his protests and dramatic cries that he would “never ride a bike again,” we took the training wheels off.

Half an hour later, the lure of the bicycle was simply too great, so he got on and tried. He fell once or twice, but by the third time he had it! He still can’t get on and started by himself yet, and he can only turn left, but he goes about 100 mph with a giant grin on his face. I fear an orthopaedic consultation in our future.

Another excitement is my $10 garage sale old 3-speed bicycle and $70 little bike-trailer (Walmart). The bike is simple, comfortable (at least after the addition of a new gel seat), and works fine. Plus it is a cool classic old bike with character. Perfect for a non-jock, ride around the neighborhood type like me!

The bike trailer is awesome! Why didn’t I ever get one of these before? My 18 month-old speed demon, daredevil girl (the next Danica Patrick perhaps?) rides along in her chariot saying “Whee!!!”

Perhaps I am the only one behind the times enough to have just discovered the wonder of a bike-trailer. Is blogging about a bike trailer kind of like blogging about water? (Oops, I’ve done that too!) “Hey world! I just discovered this wonderful new stuff that tastes good and makes you not thirsty anymore. You can even SWIM in it! It is called water!” Hopefully I am not boring the blogosphere into a deep, deep sleep.

But if you are still awake after reading this far in my post, you have probably never tried a bike trailer (or had a drink of water?). I highly recommend that you do! The trailer doesn’t upset your balance like a child seat mounted directly on the bicycle can, and seems safer too. Some of the trailers I have seen online can be hundreds of dollars. Perhaps these have additional features that some may want. For us however, this most basic little one is perfect.

Family bike rides are a wonderful way to unplug your kids and get them outside. The trailer allows even the littlest riders to tag along and have fun! So go get one…and a drink of water too.

Let Your Kids Be Bored

By , July 3, 2007 8:33 am

One of the many great things about TV-free kids is that they really like to be outdoors. In the nice weather, my two oldest children are outdoors almost all the time. Without TV and video games, there is nothing much for them to sit around doing indoors. Besides – the lure of trees, rocks, bugs, bikes, scooters, swing sets, and “clubhouses” is too great.

In fact, last week I was very pleased that my children chose to go “sploring” outside (as my 5 year-old son calls it) despite being offered the opportunity to watch “Sprout” on TV at my sister’s house when we were there to have dinner. They climbed trees, found bugs, and moved sticks and rocks from “point A” to “point B.”

Several weeks ago, whymommy linked to a Washington Post article entitled Getting Lost in the Great Indoors. The basic point of the article is that today’s kids don’t like to go outdoors, unless the purpose is an organized activity such as soccer or Little League. They would rather be indoors with TV’s, computers, and video games.

A 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that children ages 8 to 18 spend 6.5 hours a day on television, electronic games, computers, music and other media, with many multitasking electronically.

Here is a telling quote from the Washington Post article:

“In Great Falls, the Hefner family has a back yard of more than an acre, a green swath of kid heaven at the edge of Great Falls National Park. Three years ago, George Hefner, a general contractor who knows how to work a saw, built a two-story “treehouse” that stands on the ground between two leafy maples.

He imagined his children fixing it up, sleeping there.

But 10-year-old Paul cannot remember the last time he played in the little house. ‘Animals live out there, you know,’ he told his mother one day. His older sister Sarah, 16, admits that she has never set foot in it. ‘What would I do in a treehouse?’ she asked.”

According to the article, getting kids outdoors is a new venue for activists. There have been Capitol Hill hearings, state legislative action, grass-roots projects, and even a U.S. Forest Service initiative.

This recent public concern appears to be partly inspired by a book entitled Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. This post may be a tad premature since I have not yet read Mr. Louv’s book. It remains on my “To Read” list. However Mother Rising wrote an interesting post about it, that makes me want to read it all the more! (Has anyone else out there read it yet?)

The book seems to be creating public awareness of a trend that many parents have been noticing for quite a while. In addition to the obvious culprits, TV and other electronics, the article also suggests that parental fears of leaving children unattended, more working mothers, and more organized sports may also be to blame.

It does seem that today’s kids are so overscheduled that there may be little time left for unstructured outdoor play. Overscheduling is something I would like to avoid if possible, but the lure of fun, educational activities is always there to tempt parents (a struggle I wrote about here: The 6 Year-Old and her Executive Secretary).

It is so sad to me that we need grass roots initiatives and Congressional hearings (not to mention the $20 million that 40 “civic leaders” are trying to raise to fund 20 country-wide initiatives) all simply to encourage kids to go outdoors.

I am fortunate to live in a small town. If I lived in a big city apartment it would obviously be much harder to get my kids outside. I wouldn’t be able to simply release them into the backyard. We would have to depend on family trips to the park, the country, etc. I do realize how lucky I am.

However, there are plenty of families who do have the ideal safe, kid-friendly yard (such as the family quoted above) and who nonetheless have problems getting the kids outside. My advice is to try turning off the TV and putting away the video games. You don’t need a $20 million initiative to get your kids outdoors! Just allow them to “be bored” and see what happens.

Thanks to and photographer ximenez.

The Poetry Picnic

By , June 16, 2007 4:46 pm

Since I am in “poetry mode” right now, let me tell you about a friend of mine. My good friend Wishy The Writer and her daughter have a lovely tradition that they began last summer. They take blankets and pillows to a shady spot outside. They pack some food and drinks and a few books of poems and head to their cozy outdoor spot for a Poetry Picnic.

As Wishy was telling me about this I was beginning to feel like an Inferior Mom. Here is Wishy, “A-List Parent,” exposing her daughter to the beauty of nature and poetry all while enjoying some Mother-Daughter quiet time. Here am I, “Tired Parent,” pushing my children out the door to hunt for bugs and ride bikes in the driveway so I can get a little peace and quiet.

Finally she put me out of my maternal misery by revealing the REAL origin of this plan – her urgent need for a nap! Wishy was so desperate for a nap that she hoped quietly lying together reading poetry might lull her daughter to sleep so she could get a nap herself, and it worked.

I am not into using comparisons with other Moms as a measure of my worth as a parent. However I am insecure enough as a mother to admit that I felt SO much better after discovering her much less altruistic motivation for this Mother-Daughter bonding session!

My real point here is that, whatever the reason behind it, a Poetry Picnic sounds like a lovely idea. So whether you want your child to go to sleep and leave you alone, or you genuinely want to experience the “poetry of nature” together, give it a try!

Here is a variety of reading suggestions to consider:

Please share your own favorites in a comment!

This post is part of The Sunday Garden Tour at A Wrung Sponge. Head over there to find more participants, or to add your own garden-related post. Happy Sunday!

(By the way for you gardeners: The photo at the top is a Sexy Rexy rose that is planted in a pot by my front door.)

Help! It’s the weekend! What do I do now??

By , April 28, 2007 8:41 am

TV Turn-Off Week is almost over, but this weekend might be the hardest part! A week without after school and evening TV, followed by kids home all day today and tomorrow because it is the weekend…but before you just give up and turn it on, here is an idea:

Read them Jimmy Jet And His TV Set, by Shel Silverstein and then say “Go outside and play or you’ll turn into Jimmy Jet!” They’ll find something to do out there: dig in the dirt, collect pretty rocks, make fairy houses.

Let me know what your kids do. Good luck and hang in there!

Jimmy Jet And His TV Set can be found in the wonderful collection of poems and drawings by Shel Silverstein entitled Where the Sidewalk Ends 30th Anniversary Edition: Poems and Drawings

Kids and Gardens and Spring

By , March 20, 2007 12:15 pm

I love gardening. At the first hint of warm weather I begin to have detailed, yet wildly unrealistic visions of the beautiful, picture-perfect garden that I will certainly create this year. This spring I will plant some roses, and I have been researching different types of roses for the past two years (literally). I am not an impulse shopper in any regard, and certainly not where something seemingly as permanent as a garden is concerned.Last year I gave the kids a little patch of dirt to plant. I thought colorful annuals would satisfy short attention spans better than seeds or perennials. We went to the nursery and they got to pick six plants each, any annual they wanted. My daughter picked dainty alyssum as well as a variety of other flowers in pretty pink and purple tones. She is like me, not an impulse shopper. Much to my annoyance it took her close to an hour to make up her mind, even while being hurried along by me. My son (a typical “buy-the-first-thing-you-see-then-leave-as-quickly-as-possible” male) headed straight for the brightest flowers he saw: marigolds in varying shades of bright yellow and orange and rust. He chose five marigolds and a mint plant, because he liked the smell.

The deal was that they had to plant them themselves, and then water them everyday on their own without reminding. I had my doubts about the odds of their survival and felt grateful that my role in this life was to be my son’s Mom and not one of his marigolds.

Much to my surprise, the gardening experiment was a resounding success. They watered faithfully and I even taught them how to weed and deadhead by helping me. They kept their garden looking tidier than mine.

Now, every time we drive by the nursery they want to go and look at flowers. I have to explain that it is too soon, but they still don’t fully understand time, even my 6 year-old.

Meanwhile, I peruse garden magazines featuring fabulous, yet entirely impractical gardens for my climate, ability, and available time. I read the David Austin rose catalogue regularly, because this year, I really will take the plunge and order the roses of my dreams. I desperately want a Madame Alfred Carriere.

My kids have already, on their own initiative, planted pots with ancient seeds they found in the garage, and my son just brought home a sprouting Daffodil bulb that they forced at school.

Yeah! Spring is on the way!

(For my tips for gardening with kids, please also see my post: The Children’s Garden .)

Thanks to and photographer julesinky.

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