In many parts of the country, warmer weather means we’re looking for ways to get out of the house to shake off some of that wintertime cabin fever — especially for households with kids who don’t take kindly to being trapped indoors during poor weather. It’s tempting to send the kids out to play — or to take them to a playground and plop yourself down on a bench with your phone or laptop so you can check up on emails or work while they burn off all that energy. Maybe, next time you head you, you should consider putting away the phone in favor of playing with your kids. Science has proven that it’s actually good for you. What are the health benefits of getting off the bench and playing with your kids?
You’ve Got More Tools Available To Make Play Fun
Being a parent might make you older and wiser, but you know what else it does? It means you’ve had a lot more time to come up with some awesome games. Take all of those years of experience and put them to good use by helping your kids come up with the best games possible. It sounds silly, but you’ve got decades of movies, books, music and other pop culture sources to draw on — use them all!
Not only will this ensure that your kids are having a blast, but it can also help you have a bit more fun too because you’re tying their play into things that you love as well. It sounds silly but it might be just the thing you need to kick-start your own enjoyment when it comes to playing.
It Gets You Moving
We get it – you lead busy lives, especially as parents. You’ve got work to think about, a home to keep, kids to raise and after-school activities that just can’t be missed, and that doesn’t even touch on things that happen every single day like laundry and meals. It can be challenging to find time for the 150 minutes a week of vigorous activity that the Department of Health and Human Services recommends to help keep you healthy. Instead of using your kid’s playtime to check work emails and pay bills, put away your technology and use it as an excuse to get moving.
Even chasing them around the playground for half an hour can make a difference when it comes to your health and activity level, if you do it a few times a week.
You Lead by Example
Play is incredibly important for kids. Even something as simple as swinging can teach your kids about body awareness because if you want to swing high, you need to be aware of your body or you’ll end up falling off the swing and landing in the dirt. Instead of saying “go get on the swing and learn how it works,” climb on the swing next to them and show them how to get moving by example.
Of course, if you’re one of the adults who finds that swinging makes you sick now even though you could do it for hours when you were a kid, you might want to skip the swings in favor of other playground toys. Science doesn’t know why some adults can’t swing anymore once they reach adulthood, but if they ever figure it out we’ll be sure to let you know.
Exercise is Good for Your Mental Health
We spend so much time worrying about everyone else that we often forget that we need to take care of ourselves as well — and that includes caring for our mental health. Science has shown that exercise is important for more than just preventing your waistline from expanding. It’s also important for your mental health. Studies have found that regular exercise can lessen the impact of mental illness symptoms like those that accompany depression, anxiety, ADHD, and others. While it may not be a replacement for professional treatment, when paired with therapy, exercise can help make it easier to live with these mental health conditions.
It’s also useful to help reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and help boost your mood. Other than the possibility of a sunburn from being outside too long, we can’t think of any downsides that might come from playing with your kid.
Get Out There and Play!
Instead of sitting on the bench the next time you go to the park, get out there and play! You’ll be improving your own health as well as that of your child, and can help you manage your mental health as well. It’s a win-win-win in our book, so get out there and play! You might surprise yourself and even have a bit of fun while you’re out there! Growing up doesn’t mean that you have to stop playing — it just means that you can afford better toys.