By Kathryn Trudeau
Has bedtime become a bit of a nightmare lately? As the days are starting to become longer (yay for more sunlight), are you in need of tips and tricks to help your children sleep better? Even if you have a rock solid bedtime routine, you might find that the secret to a better bedtime starts earlier in the day.
What’s the secret? Spending more time outdoors can help your children (and you too!) sleep better at night.
There are many reasons why outdoor activities improve sleep:
- Sunlight helps to regulate your circadian rhythm (studies report that this is especially true of morning sunlight)
- Spending time in the fresh air and nature elevates your mood
- Both nature and physical activity reduce stress (which also helps improve sleep latency)
In other words, physical activity outdoors is a double whammy when it comes to improving your child’s sleep. Nature and physical activity work together to improve sleep quality. With this in mind, we’ve created a guide to help you find outdoor spring activities to help you sleep better at night.
25 Outdoor Spring Activities to Try This Year
The following 25 activities are fun ways to sneak in more physical activity into your child’s day while soaking up the Great Outdoors.
- Splashing in puddles: What’s spring without a few rainstorms? Don those rain boosts and get jumping! (All that jumping is sure to tire out those little feet!)
- Play tag (or catch or football or soccer) in the backyard: Any of these activities get little ones running. Even just racing in the backyard can be fun for littles!
- Create an obstacle course in the yard. Make it as simple or as complex as your kids like!
- Go crazy with sidewalk chalk! From scribbles to hopscotch to a giant life-sized pictionary game, playing with chalk gets kids moving (especially if they stand up and get back down multiple times!)
- Climb a tree.
- Ride bikes.
- Go on a picnic.
- Go on a scavenger hunt at the park or in the yard. Create a checklist for your kids and let them explore the area. For smaller children, use pictures instead of words on their checklist. For example, you might draw a picture of a bird nest instead of writing out the words “bird nest.”
- Build a playhouse out of cardboard boxes.
- Grab notebooks and go bird watching. See how many different kinds of birds your little ones can find. This is also a good exercise in building patience!
- Fly kites.
- Plant a spring garden. Herb gardens can be especially fun for kids because the herbs grow fast, and kids can literally taste the fruit (or herbs) of their labors.
- Decorate your exterior windows with homemade window paint. Perhaps decorate for Easter?
- Make art with any leaves, flowers, sticks that you find.
- Make a fairy garden. Make a hut for a fairy with sticks and leaves.
- Go for a nature walk at a nearby nature center or arboretum.
- Play at the playground.
- Plan a day trip and hike at a nearby state or national park.
- Play with bubbles.
- Finger paint in the backyard.
- Make mud pies. Take tin foil pie plates, plastic spoons, and cups of water into your garden and play make believe.
- Collect and paint river rocks.
- Make birdhouses and hang them up in your yard.
- Paint river rocks and hide them in your neighborhood.
- Go to a nearby beach and listen to the waves. (The beach is also a great place to fly your kite!)
Tips for Better Sleep
While exercise and time spent outdoors can help your child sleep better at night, keep these tips in mind to make bedtime even better.
- Don’t time your playtime too close to bedtime. While physical activity can help you sleep better, if you perform too much exercise right before bed, it can energize your kids.
- Don’t skip bathtime! A good bath is essential after playing outside, but if you incorporate the bath into your bedtime routine, it can be even more relaxing for your child. A warm bath paired with a lavender-scented bubble bath is the perfect ending to a busy day!
- Use bedtime wind-down time to talk about your child’s favorite activities of the day. This is a good chance to bond and the quiet conversation can help settle your child.
What is your favorite springtime activity?