Kids, this House is Closed. Get Outside!

Playing ball in the grass Playing ball in the grass
555 Bus in Lake District at Dunmail Raise 555 Bus in Lake District at Dunmail Raise
Signpost Carnforth Signpost Carnforth
Playing Outdoors Playing Outdoors

IMG 1958 Kids, this House is Closed. Get Outside!

Outdoors is good for you. So, get out there. And that’s an order.

Kids, this House is Closed. Get Outside!

Stuart Profile Small Kids, this House is Closed. Get Outside!My recent grand nature manifesto was full of big words, grand ideas and noble intentions about getting our kids more connected with nature. But how do you actually get kids outdoors? In an attempt to turn my call to action into action, I’ve been trying some little experiments to try and get them out of their bedrooms and into the big wide world. In this series of posts I’m going to spill the beans on what I did and how it went down. Evil experiment number one involves some enforced outdoor time…. 

This is a public announcement

I make the announcement on the upstairs landing, within ear reach of all the kids.

“This house will be closed to kids from two until four.”

There is no initial reaction. Until I go into their bedrooms, mute their computers, remove headphones, get their attention and repeat the message.

“I said the house is closing for the next two hours.”

“What?”

“You have to go outside and amuse yourself. Somewhere else. Outside.”

“Outside?”

“Yes. Starting in ten minutes.”

Halecat 6822 Kids, this House is Closed. Get Outside!

Come on guys. You know playing outdoors can be fun.

Is it so hard to understand?

Dictatorship isn’t my natural style and the imposition of this arbitrary rule seems to wrankle the kids.

“Why?”

“Do we have to?”

“What will we do?”

But I don’t want to engage in discussions, negotiations or explanation. This is a dictat,

“Come on. No time for questions. The wifi is going off. We’re closed from two to four. It’s outside time.”

The questions don’t stop. But in the face of my insistence they do shift, ever so subtly.

“Do we have to go together?”

“Do we have to stay in the village?”

“Can we go on a bus?”

I think they’re going for it. These are boundary questions, more deserving of answers. Short ones.

“No. No. Yes.”

I think they are going for it. But there is one final question.

“Can we have some money?”

It seems churlish to refuse given the rising trickle of enthusiasm for the mission. I mean buses aren’t free are they? Or have I just been mugged?

IMG 0468 Kids, this House is Closed. Get Outside!

Around here buses can take you to some truly great outdoor places

Watching and waiting

My wallet is £10 lighter by the time I shut the front door and watch the kids head over to the bus stop just outside. I know a bus isn’t much of an outdoor adventure or nature trip, and that outdoors is supposed to be free, but I’m just relieved to get them out the door. And £10 for three kids to spend two hours outside seems quite cheap, although the precedent does concern me a little.

They are outside but there’s not much action at the bus stop. I watch them stand around there for ten, twenty, thirty minutes. I guess the bus must have been cancelled. They check the timetable, explore the telephone box, flick each others ears and then stand and wait some more. Now forty minutes, fifty and more. And then they give up and disappear. I don’t know where. And I don’t care. In fact I’m rather pleased.

An unexpected sweetener

They arrive back at five to four with red faces, cold hands and a fistful of sweets each. I am tempted to enforce the final five minutes of exclusion but relent and unlock the door.

“Where have you been?”

“Oh hanging out, the school, the playground.”

“And the sweet shop?”

“Well, you didn’t say the money was for the bus.”

They have a point. But perhaps it’s money well spent. And a lesson for me. For next time.

Talking Point

Have you ever enforced outdoor time? Or got another idea to help get kids outdoors more? Do leave a comment and let us know.

DSC01152 Kids, this House is Closed. Get Outside!

OK so maybe it wasn’t this perfect. But they did spend two hours outdoors.

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Stuart's the adventure addict half of the team, always trying to persuade the family to get out, do more, go further. As co-founder and co-director he handles the business, creative, design, technical and publishing aspects of the project and is our chief photographer. With training as a professional learning and development consultant. an engineer and musician, his contribution is eclectic and unpredictable!

5 Responses to “Kids, this House is Closed. Get Outside!” Subscribe

  1. ToddlerSlave April 1, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    Love the idea of closing the house- will defo keep in mind for the days when I have teens lazing about! Atm Boo, who is only 2, is easily persuaded to spend time outdoors but I’m sure that will change with age!

  2. Merlinda (@pixiedusk) April 1, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    We really do go out for his school =P but we walk to and from and a lot of times we roam around the town before we head home. My pre-schooler doesnt like TV much but he is into ipad. So I guess we walking before going home is our House is close =P #letkidsbekids

  3. Kate Thompson April 1, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

    Love the idea of closing the house – not so much having to pay for it! #Letkidsbekids !

  4. Karen Bell April 1, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    I think closing the house is a fab idea! Sometimes it can take drastic action to get kids out. My children are still little enough to be forced out the door, but it is already becoming harder, I shall bear your tip in mind for future :)
    Thanks for sharing #LetKidsBeKids

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  1. Kids, this House is Closed. Get Outside! | Camp... - November 12, 2013

    […] Outdoors is good for you. So, get out there. And that’s an order.Kids, this House is Closed. Get Outside!My recent grand nature manifesto was full of big words, grand ideas and noble intentions about getting our kids more connected with nature.  […]

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