Most of us have fond memories of summer vacation away from school. This year, our kids may be looking forward to this summer even more so because many of them have been cooped up in the house doing online/virtual school due to Covid 19. Dads—and especially Moms—have been cooped up with their children also, so I know you parents may be more excited than your kids for summer’s arrival!
Many of us parents can remember those wonderful summer days of our childhood. We spent almost all of our time outside playing until we had to come in at dark. Unfortunately, things have changed over the past three or four decades, and now for many parents it’s like pulling teeth to get their kids away from a computer monitor, their tablet, or from scrolling on social media all day on their phones. The best way to get them outside these days is to do things together as a family.
Studies have shown that adopted and foster children tend to suffer from higher rates of depression than other kids. There are numerous reasons for this including birth family history, past trauma, and struggles with personal identity. Although things like therapy and medication can help, there is also a natural remedy we can add—going outside in the sunshine. Did you know that sunlight provides Vitamin D, which is a natural antidepressant? What happens, is that when your skin is exposed to the sun, it manufactures Vitamin D from your body’s cholesterol. A multitude of studies have also shown that moderate exercise releases hormones in the brain called endorphins, which improve mood. Some more recent studies have shown that the anti-depressant effects of moderate exercise can actually be even more effective if you sweat during exercise.
I say all that to say this: As much as possible get your kids outside this summer. It may be something big like a week-long trip to the beach, or it can be something as simple as playing low-competitive games outside in the yard or local playground. Resist the temptation to allow them to sit in front of a screen all day. I know this may be difficult, especially if you are a single parent. But the efforts you make to get you child(ren) outside with you will pay off.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your suggestions and plans for, and with your kids this summer!