A few weeks ago, when I had Sam in for his two year check-up, our doctor asked how often he’s in front of screens as part of our conversation about his developmental milestones. I’d never been asked that question before in a well-baby exam and commented that screen-time must be on the rise if it’s now part of the questionnaire. She went on to explain that kids are often playing on phones and tablets while they wait in her exam rooms and that children under four should have less than an hour a day in front of screens — including phones, tablets, computers and television. They need to play. They need to read. They need to be outside.
This conversation was still top-of-mind when I had a chat with my Today’s Parent Healthy Family Challenge co-blogger Crystal at the beginning of last week. We were talking about her commitment to play outside and thought it would be really fun to make a coast-to-coast pledge to spend more time in the great outdoors this week. With our family on the east coast and her family on the west coast, we thought we’d get things started in hopes that all of the Healthy Family Challengers out there will join in and post their “play outside” signs and photos on Twitter with the hashtag #tpchallenge.
For us, this was the week that we started using the yard again for the hour between supper and bedtime. We cleaned off the swing set and pulled out the balls, skipping ropes, bubble mower and chalk so that we could enjoy the fresh air together at the end of the day. The kids have been biking and scooting up the sidewalk and we’ve enjoyed taking the long way around the block to get to our mailbox.
The kids have been to the beach twice this week — once to collect rocks for painting with our incredible sitter Patricia (who very accurately dubs herself a “modern day Mary Poppins”) and then again with us on the weekend to play. Despite the air being a little cold, they were thrilled to run around barefoot in the sand, climb on rocks and dip their toes in the water. On the way home, Sheldon dropped the girls and I off to walk part of the Salt Marsh Trail, a piece of the Trans Canada Trail, and we had a great time running and skipping through the woods together.
All in all, I feel like we’ve had a lot of fresh air through our lungs this week and have kicked off a great new routine for the next few months. Let’s just hope that all of the activity can make up for the giant chocolate chip cookie pizza we made this weekend — definitely not on the Healthy Family Challenge menu but totally fun to make (and eat) together. You can’t win em’ all.