My little North Carolina town has been going through quite the cold snap lately. With blustering winds and near-freezing temperatures almost every day of the week, we’ve been forced inside more often than I’d like. While I love our home, there are only so many episodes of the same five cartoons I can take before the walls start to feel like they’re caving in. After those are exhausted, it’s onto craft time and let me share a little story about how our last crafting adventure went.

I found DIY bird feeder instructions while browsing Pinterest late one night. It was past midnight and my eyes were crossing from exhaustion and in my confused state, I thought to myself, “Hey, that looks totally doable.” I pinned it and planned to try it in the morning. It called for two toilet paper rolls and of course, none of ours were ready to use. I had the genius idea to cut a paper towel roll in half but we didn’t have any of those either. So, I unraveled an entire roll just to get to the inside cardboard, then neatly folded every single square of paper back into a pile so we wouldn’t waste anything. In five minutes flat, my kitchen was a mess of peanut butter hands and bird seed, both of which ended up in my toddler’s mouth. The final result looked nothing like the picture online but it was certainly a memory made!

That’s why, when the temperatures gloriously crept above 70 this week, I made certain that we’d have plenty of time to play outdoors. Mama was going stir-crazy and the garden needed tilling, so it was high time we all put on our comfy clothes and got a little dirty. Here are three reasons why this type of play is awesome.

It’s free.

All mamas know: budgeting is key and if there’s any sort of free local activity that’s even remotely kid-friendly, we’re all for it. Free admission day at the children’s museum? I’m there. Free spring fling on the time square? Just tell me what time it starts. You don’t have to ask me twice to show up if it will make my kids happy without costing me a dime. That’s why heading outside is so great! Whether you’re in your backyard or at the community playground, you likely don’t have to pay anything at all to enjoy it and that makes it a total win in my book.

An added bonus is that you can enjoy it from anywhere you live! Whether you’re in rural Carolina like us or in a downtown apartment in a bustling metropolis, the same blue sky is above us all. There are plenty of things to do outdoors in and around your locale and finding new spots to play is half the fun.

It can go on for hours.

My kids are two and three and have the attention spans of a goldfish. Even tablets and other electronics enrapture them at first and then they drop them to go find something else to entertain them. But when they’re outdoors? They can run and swing and climb for hours without getting bored. We don’t even have a fancy jungle gym in our backyard. We have a simple wooden rope swing hanging from the old pecan tree out back and that’s it. Still, they can find the most joy in running back and forth from there to the blueberry bushes, sitting beside the creek watching the water run over the rocks and pretending to be pirates from behind the giant trees. I bring a big beach blanket, spread it on the grass and take in the sweet view.

It’s great exercise.

We know our kids need physical activity to be healthy but how many of us have the time to schedule daily yoga sessions or light cardio exercises for our kids? You don’t have to, thanks to outdoor play. They’ll burn plenty of calories out there on the lawn, slide, monkey bars and more. This is not only great for their body but it also helps them sleep better at night. As a mama who’s bedtime routine has been known to stretch longer than two hours, I’m grateful for anything that works them out and makes getting into bed a little easier. Just be sure to replenish those lost nutrients with plenty of healthy snacks and this is one activity that can become a mainstay in your daily routine, weather permitting!

I hear it’s supposed to be in the mid-70s for the remainder of the week and I’ve already got our itinerary planned. It doesn’t involve a screen, a remote control or an outlet but rather green grass, seedlings and sidewalk chalk. And hopefully, a little bird watching thanks to our snazzy new feeders.

Featured Photo Courtesy: mcconnmama via Pixabay
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