"No, we don't need more sleep. It's our souls that are tired, not our bodies. We need nature. We need magic. We need adventure. We need freedom. We need truth. We need stillness. We don't need more sleep, we need to wake up and live."
~ Brooke Hampton
In a world that often encourages sheltering children from the elements and opting for the ‘easy route’ of entertaining them via screens, there's a growing body of evidence suggesting that being outdoors whatever the weather, is good for them.
As a child of the 80’s (usually sporting some form of garish C&A coat), I spent my entire childhood outdoors. We were given a huge amount of freedom to roam and being cooped up indoors held absolutely no appeal compared to the wonders of being outside; den building, creating cover from heavy rain, sitting in the fork of a tree under a corrugated tin roof that my papa had nailed into place, reading a book.
I remember the smell, the sensation of sitting in that tree listening to the rain pattering on that tin roof, time moved slowly then, happily so.
Those were the days when imaginations truly ran wild.
Playing outside on a cold or rainy day, provided children are properly dressed, is incredibly beneficial for their physical and mental well-being. Understanding why bad weather releases endorphins and why it's crucial for children to spend time outdoors, irrespective of the conditions, sheds light on the holistic benefits of embracing nature's unpredictable side.
While the instinct to keep children indoors during cold weather is understandable, we should recognise that this is often something we project on to them. We look outside and think “I’d rather not”, we then communicate this reluctance to be outside on to our children. Why not flip this on its head and instead consider the numerous health benefits of outdoor play and how these are magnified on a cold day.
When appropriately dressed, exposure to cold temperatures can boost children's immune systems, strengthen their resilience to illness, and even aid in weight management by encouraging thermogenesis, the body's process of producing heat. Breathing in the crisp air invigorates the senses and promotes better sleep patterns, ultimately enhancing overall well-being.
The first step to ensuring your little really enjoy being outdoors is to ensure they are appropriately dressed. We recommend an EcoReversible Puffer Jacket to combat the cold, a Waterproof Raincoat if the skies are threatening rain, or a 3-in-1 Raincoat, our versatile coat which can be worn in three ways and has you covered for all climate conditions. You'll find that as soon as they set foot outside, provided they feel warm and dry, their natural enthusiasm from being in nature is triggered.
We are primal creatures, evolving for over a millennia, to be outdoors in nature.
Being in nature, particularly in bad weather, releases endorphins, our body's natural feel-good chemicals. The novelty and sensory stimulation of bad weather environments trigger a surge of endorphins, leading to feelings of exhilaration and happiness. Furthermore, the physical activity involved in outdoor play, whether building snow forts or splashing in puddles, amplifies this effect, fostering a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Beyond the physical benefits, spending time outdoors, regardless of the weather, is essential for nurturing children's mental health. Nature acts as a powerful antidote to the stressors of modern life, offering a calming and grounding influence. Studies have shown that exposure to natural environments reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression, and attention-deficit disorders in children. Moreover, the unstructured play opportunities provided by outdoor settings encourage creativity, problem-solving, and social interaction, all of which are vital for healthy cognitive development.
“We don’t let them play freely; we imprison them in their homes, with little to do except interact via screens; and our school system largely deadens and bores them. We feed them food that causes energy crashes, contains drug-like additives that can make them hyper, and doesn’t contain the nutrients they need. We expose them to brain-disrupting chemicals in the atmosphere. It’s not a flaw in them that causes children to struggle to pay attention. It’s a flaw in the world we built for them.”
~ Johann Hari, Stolen Focus (a MUST read)
Despite the inherent benefits, parents often hesitate to let their children venture outdoors in bad weather, concerned that they might get too cold or come down with something. However, we should understand that children are inherently resilient and adaptable beings. With the right outdoor clothing they can safely explore and thrive in a full spectrum of weather conditions.
By encouraging outdoor play, parents not only foster their children's physical health but also empower them to embrace challenges, cultivate a sense of curiosity, and develop a lifelong appreciation for the natural world.
So next time the weather looks unwelcoming, rather than shielding your Tiny Explorer from nature's elements, instead embrace the opportunity for exploration and discovery, regardless of the forecast.