Monday, May 11, 2009

Do Kids Spend Enough Time Outside?



The above is Belle outside at my mother's house yesterday. She was outside all afternoon, running amok with the dogs (we brought Sonja to Mimi's to celebrate Mothers Day and have a playdate with Mollie), raking leaves, picking up sticks, finding Easter eggs she missed the first time around (don't ask ...), climbing on rocks, and doing all sorts of the things that five-year-olds do outdoors.

Belle is watching "Caillou" on television right now. And eating a rice cake. And drinking chocolate milk. I was going to take a picture for comparison, but my bedroom is a pigsty and I was kind of mortified to post pics of it for public viewing, plus I need a new memory card for my Blackberry (and we still haven't replaced the camera).

The point is, though, in one scene, Belle is outside in the sunshine getting exercise and playing and bonding with nature (and golden retrievers and black labs and her family). In the other, she's sitting on her mother's bed watching television (the black lab's sitting next to her).

The really sad thing is, if I asked Belle right now if she wanted to go outside, she'd be in the mudroom getting her sneaks on before I was finished speaking. I can try to make myself feel better by saying that it's past her bedtime (she goes to bed at 6:30 ... yeah, I don't get it either) but I'm keeping her up until Pythagorus is home so she can say good night to him (he had to return his uncle's truck about an hour away, but he'll be home any second ... then we'll read our bedtime story and do the bedtime routine), but the point is that we could easily be outside playing right now. And we're not. Because I suck.

I mean, obviously I'm not the only parent that allows their children to watch television. I'd even go so far as to say that both my girls watch less television than most kids. However, it doesn't make it right that I'm sitting here on the computer (well, at least I'm in the same room ...) while one of my children is watching TV and the other is ... well, on a computer of her own. The fact that I worked all day is absolutely no excuse.

So what do you think? Do kids spend enough time outside? Is television the culprit? Parents? Would kids prefer to be playing outside? Are these habits that are taught early truly necessary to a child's health as an adult?

And please don't mention my inadequacies as a parent ... I'm well aware : )