Temptation of the Indoors:
Singapore’s hot and humid climate can be a strong deterrent for children to indulge more often in outdoor play. Parents we know shun outdoors because of the following reasons:
1) Too hot – Risk of kids getting heatstroke, dehydration or triggering eczema flare reactions from exposure to the heat and humidity.
2) Too ‘dirty’ – Heat, sweat and humidity often make the environment more germy and ‘dirty’. In addition to kids getting soiled, there are always the inconveniences of washing a whole load of dirty laundry and trying to remove impossibly stubborn stains!
3) Temptation…to stay indoors – From shopping malls to play gyms and to libraries and game arcades…there are plenty of convenient alternatives to keep children away from the heat and cocoon in the cool air conditioning. But we all know that viruses tend to spread faster in an enclosed environment so cooping our kids indoors ironically may subject them to more diseases.
Why It Pays to Play Outdoors:
Research from experts has shown that outdoor play is critical to children’s happiness, well-being and development. Among the benefits are:
1) Reduces the likelihood of myopia: Singapore is one of countries in the world with highest number of children with myopia, or shortsightedness. This could be attributed to the largely sedentary lifestyle we lead or the prevalence of screen addiction syndrome among affluent Singaporean households. Encouraging our children to head outdoors for exploratory play or do a sports can give their eyes the much needed relief from sustained periods of intense concentration on homework or electronic gadgets. Relaxing their eyes muscles reduces the risk of early myopia onset or deterioration.
2) Builds confidence and resilience: The outdoors are usually unpredictable. Playing outdoors helps the kids learn to be adaptable, think on their feet, dare to take risks and be more resilient when they face unpredictable situations.
3) Develops social skills: Singapore families are getting smaller. Playing outdoors help kids pick up social skills as they befriend and mingle with other children. They learn to take turns, share, negotiate, compromise, if conflicts arise, reconcile… then play again! Necessary EQ skills to prepare them for the adult world!
4) Encourages curiosity: The vast possibilities of the outdoors lend itself to many adventures where kids can discover new things, test new concepts and formulate new ideas!
5) Strengthens immune system: Participating in outdoor physical activities improve kids’ general immunity. Natural settings rejuvenate and calm the mind, improve outlook and increase positive affect. In contrast, artificial environments may cause feelings of exhaustion, irritability, inattentiveness and impulsivity. Vitamin D and E are better absorbed when we are exposed to the sun. These generally help with bone production and the development of the child’s immune system.
Go Outdoors…Leave the Dirt to Breeze
One of the main gripe many parents have is that outdoor activities is ‘messy’, ‘germy’ and ‘dirty’. We don’t deny that dirt can stain or accumulate in clothing – take for example, a recent outdoor adventure activity we did during Youth Day at the Forest Adventure Singapore where our daughter shared common harnesses to conquer the various treetop obstacles alongside many other children. She was exposed to the elements of the great outdoors throughout the adventure course – dirt, sweat and all.
Hygiene reasons aside, heavily soiled clothes increase the wash-load, water-usage, time needed to complete the laundry cycle. Occasionally, if the stains are permanent, the apparel has to be discarded (which happened once to our daughter’s white school uniform when she came home with paint splutters which cannot be removed). That is why some parents have reservations against their children engaging more in messy, germy and dirty play.
Breeze, a household name trusted by families for generations, celebrates exploratory, outdoor play, because they believe that ‘Dirt is Good’. Breeze detergent provides tough stain removal in 1 step. With Breeze, I have greater assurance to allow my kids to step out and reap the benefits of real play in the outdoors, without having to worry about dirty laundry. Yay to greater freedom for both adults and kids to indulge in real play!