Make a New Year’s Resolution That Sticks – Swap Screen Time For Wild Time

David Bond and son Albie@Project Wild ThingWith the New Year fast approaching, why not make just one resolution that could leave the whole family happier and healthier – with the added bonus of being free.

The newly formed Wild Network movement, made up of more than 150 organisations and thousands of people, is encouraging the nation’s parents, guardians and grandparents to swap a bit of screen time for wild time, if only for 10 minutes a day.

And with all of the pressures of everyday life, the new free Wild Time app makes it a whole lot easy to get out and have a Wild Time right on the doorstep – with screen time helping families to get more wild time into their lives.

The app is packed with simple and fun crowdsourced ideas, whether you have 10 minutes or half a day to spare. Download the app at www.projectwildthing.com.

If there’s only 10 minutes to spare, maybe just walk out the door with a friend and ‘Tree Hug’ – close your eyes and feel the bark of different trees. In 20 minutes you could host a ‘Bird Dinner Party’ – put out some winter food for the birds and see which feathered friends turn up. And if you’ve got an hour or so, why not create a mud castle or go fly a kite.Child in a tree at Brownsea Island, Poole harbour, Dorset

One family has already taken Wild Time to heart, and even made a documentary about their hands-on experiences. Project Wild Thing is a thought-provoking and often humorous documentary film that goes on general release in cinemas across the country from Friday 25th October.

David and Katie Bond managed to drag themselves and their two children, 5-year-old telly-loving Ivy and 3-year-old Albie, away from their screens and out into the wilds of London.

Appointing himself the Marketing Director of Nature, David gave himself just two months to implement his nature marketing campaign and get children, including his own, outside and reconnected with nature.

His first project was to work out how his daughter Ivy spent her time – 32% in school, 15% watching TV, 15% playing indoors, 12% on the computer, 10% eating, 5% in the car, 4% in the bathroom, and only 4% playing outdoors.

David Bond said: “Across the western world children spend less and less time outdoors. And the generational shift to an indoor existence has been strongly linked to a sharp decline in children’s wellbeing.”

“Making the film made me realise that if you can show kids and their families how easy it is to get into nature and playing outdoors then it can easily become part of their everyday lives.”

Here are David and Katie Bond’s 10 top tips for how you can go about swapping your family’s screen time for Wild Time…

  • Everyone’s got stuff to do, so start by trying bite-size 10-minute chunks of Wild Time – it’s amazing what you can do in a short space of time.
  • The really hard bit ­– get tough on yourselves and your family.
  • Ban the gadgets! Lock away all your mobiles, laptops, games and whatever. They are not coming with you – it’s only for a while.
  • Put on some comfy clothes and maybe wellies – nothing too smart.
  • It’s all about the adventure not what you’re wearing.
  • Maybe take along a bag to collect wild treasures and a notebook/diary to write or draw in.
  • Make sure everyone sticks to the rules – including you! No sneaking off to text behind a tree.
  • Keep it local – go into the garden, park, street – you can always explore further later.
  • Just look around you – see, touch, listen to and smell nature.
  • Get through the “I’m bored!” moment – maybe plant a few ideas and then just free-fall. It’s all about children feeding their own imaginations and creating their own wild fun.
  • Shift the balance towards free play and away from adult-supervised play.
  • It doesn’t have to feel like a mega adventure – with loads of planning and equipment. Keep it simple. Take small steps.

Research has shown that letting children go out to play is one of the best things that parents can do for their children’s health: outdoor play uses more calories than clubs and tuition.outdoor-nation

Eighteen months ago, the National Trust published its Natural Childhood report presenting compelling evidence that in just one generation kids have been losing touch with nature and the outdoors.

In the Project Wild Thing film Chris Rose, scientist and campaigner, said: “Whether or not children understand or engage with nature really determines what the next generation is going to do about a lot of the big problems that face our environment and the planet, but also what sort of quality of life the next generation has.”

Posted by Amy Moylan 

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