I thought I’d write about why picnics are good for children as well as teddy bears!
They are occasions when some of the most important things in life come together – family and friends, food, nature and the outdoors.
When I was a child, the word ‘picnic’ conjured up excitement. It usually meant going out for a long walk in the Peak District where we lived, surrounded by nature, eating delicious sandwiches (doesn’t everything, however ordinary, taste better when you’re eating outdoors?!) and a sense of companionship and being with others.
I remember one weekend, my parents had planned to take us on a walk and a picnic with family friends.
It was, however, pouring with rain on that day. Undeterred, we still got together, set out the picnic blanket on the floor in our sitting room and unpacked our picnic basket!
Yes, we missed the outdoor setting and being in nature but still benefitted from the communal aspect of sitting together, sharing food and enjoying each other’s company.
As a parent, we took our children on picnics to our local park when they were little. A picnic was a fun, easy and inexpensive activity to do. It also combined two of their favourite activities – eating and running around outside!
Once our children were old enough, I involved them in preparing the food, packing the bags and checking we had everything we needed. This responsibility gave them ownership of the picnic food and the arrangements which they enjoyed.
Two of my children were born in the summer months so having a communal birthday picnic in the park was a perfect opportunity for a get together with lots of friends. Plenty of space for parents and children to sit down together, share food, run around and play games afterwards!
To sum up, here are the reasons why I think picnics are good for children:
Family Bonding Time
Good quality family time can feel increasingly difficult to find with the pressures of home, school and work.
Picnics are a great way to spend time together, away from other distractions. They offer opportunities to sit and chat in a relaxed environment. It doesn’t matter what you chat about, it’s about the connection and giving each other time and attention.
Spending Time Outdoors
Spending time outdoors is great for our mental and physical health. It’s time away from the busyness of everyday life.
Being outside and breathing fresh air improves our health. Sunshine helps our mood, relieves stress and provides us with vitamin D.
Having a picnic is a chance to enjoy a meal outside of a normal setting. Eating outside always seems more exciting than eating inside, doesn’t it?!
It’s also a chance for children to run off energy. We always packed a sponge football, frisbee, bat and ball, as well as quieter activities such as colouring books, crayons and playing cards. Here are links to my colouring pages, bookmarks and doorhangers which are free to download and print out. Sometimes we need quiet down time too!
Picnics provide an opportunity to explore nature and can be a wonderful sensory experience. We are increasingly distant from nature but sitting outside, surrounded by nature, helps reconnect us.
It can be the simplest of things – I remember one of my boys examining a dandelion on the grass where he was sitting. It generated discussion about shape, colour, smell, its name and why bees seem to like them.
Picnics are often perfect for spotting mini beasts (admittedly sometimes too many wasps in the height of summer!) – why not take a magnifying glass or binoculars to help spot things?
Another idea is to find a simple nature hunt to download off the internet or make a tally chart of how many bugs you see? Children seem to have a skill for doing this! Here are some lovely spot it! sheets from the RSPB and a mini beast hunt from the Woodland Trust.
On our picnics, as well as looking and spotting things, we realised we began using other senses more, such as hearing. We used to listen to the birds singing – it doesn’t matter if you can’t identify them. Simply listening and noting different sounds and appreciating the beautiful birdsongs is exciting in itself.
Picnics can be a perfect way of involving children in deciding what food to bring and promoting healthy eating. Somehow being in a new location meant my children were willing to be more adventurous with their food.
Have a look at my following blog easy picnic recipes for ideas on delicious food to make for your next adventure outdoors!
With these reasons in mind, why not make the most of the warmer weather and spend time outdoors, whether it be in the garden, local park or further afield.
Enjoy slowing down, being in the moment and benefitting from the simpler things in life.
Those egg mayonnaise sandwiches will never have tasted so good!
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