Parenting is so confusing, don’t you think? One day we think we are doing the right thing by giving a timeout but then we hear that we could be causing emotional trauma. Grandma tells you to toilet train your child at 6 months and the doctor says to start at 2 years of age. Who do you listen to and how do you know what the heck is right or wrong.

If I had this answer I could be a millionaire! Boy do I wish I knew.

When I read that children seem to be lacking Vitamin D due to not enough sun exposure and natural sunlight I started to wonder now about all the sunscreen I lather on my children. Then I realized I might be an okay parent after all because I usually forget and put it on them later in the day so they get plenty of natural sunlight! Except what about the children who just aren’t getting outside enough to have the 10-15 minutes of sun exposure they need for the healthy dose of natural vitamin D? For FAQ about Vitamin D see the American Academy of Pediatrics clinical report along with their official statement on recommendations and guidelines for vitamin D.

You know the children that watch to much television, stay indoors because they’d rather not play outside and get dirty or frankly would just rather play indoors? I know children like this. There are other sources to help assure your child gets enough vitamin D; yogurt, vitamin D enriched milk and supplements. Fresh air and sunlight, however, has many other benefits besides just the natural vitamin D our children need and this must not be forgotten.

As an early childhood advocate and educator as well as mother my feelings on fresh air and sunshine reach far beyond the scope of vitamins. It has to do with connecting with nature and learning experiencing with your senses Mother Earth. How does the bark feel; wind; sunshine; rain; what do the clouds look like and does the grass tickle your toes? Getting outside provides a child with a chance to be loud, run, jump and experience new scenery – even for just 15 minutes.

playing-outside-in-streamRecently, Tiffany from Nature Moms wrote a great post on taking a nature walk to help cheer up a child. Getting outside can have a lot of emotional benefits as well as physical benefits. The physcial part is great for our heart and gets the blood pumping while we run and play tag but then it starts to provide more oxygen to the brain that lets us think more clearly. Children also need this to clear their heads and get the creative juices flowing.

Five tips for Getting Your Indoor Child Outdoors:

1. Bring the indoors outside. Yes, the barbies can come outside and play in the grass!
2. Paint or do indoor crafts outside. Get messy on the driveway and lawn and then you don’t have to clean it up. Does your child like to make friendship bracelets, bead and make jewelry? Throw a big blanket down on the lawn and let him or her do their projects outside.
3. Make it Regular. Meaning everyday do something outside for even just 15-20 minutes so your child isn’t suprised by you saying it is time to head outside for fresh air. Children like to know what to expect and if you’re lucky they won’t want to come inside.
4. Play a game. Make outside time fun and interactive. Go on a nature hunt or hide indoor objects outside to see if they can spot what doesn’t fit in the wilderness. My son loves this game!
5. Interact. Yes, don’t just sit and read or type messages on your Blackberry but enjoy the outside time yourself. Role modeling the outdoor enjoyment will go a long ways.



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