Free the kids to play outdoors

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Do you struggle to find ways to entertain your children outsdoors? Research from Persil, carried out as part of its #DirtisGood campaign, suggests many mums and dads have difficulty finding ways to play outside with their kids.

persil, #DirtisGood, Free The Kids, outdoor play, children, healthy children
My daughter Helen on our recent camping trip. Outdoor play is very important to us, but many families struggle with it according to new research.

In a sad sign of how childhood is changing, 39% of the parents who were quizzed as part of the research admitted they avoid outdoor play with their kids altogether because they lack inspiration.  A further reason to avoid outdoor play was the unreliable British weather, cited by 40% of the 2,000 strong sample.

Bizarrely, a further 30% claimed outdoor play is too expensive. I found this very surprising, more so when the research claimed the average spend on an outdoor activity is £100. It left me wondering why parents are spending so much.

Some time ago I spent £20 on a second hand trampoline for my kids. That investment as paid itself back many, many times over as has the £30 I spent on my eldest daughter’s pre-loved bicycle. Footballs and play parks are also invaluable to this family, neither of which comes with a heavy-duty price tag.

Lack of imagination among parents is bad enough, but I can kind-of understand it. Today’s kids have many more entertainment opportunities such as computer games. Parents frequently work long hours and modern life is demanding, leaving mums and dads tired out.

Cost, however, is a different issue entirely. I find it desperately sad this is considered a barrier to outdoor play. Many of the cheapest and healthiest forms of play are outdoors and don’t involve an Xbox, computer, tablet, smartphone or spending any money whatsoever.

Persil, The Wild Network, Free The Kids, outdoor play, outside play, active children, healthy children
The Persil ‘Free the Kids’ app is packed full of suggestions for outdoor play

To help parents that struggle with inspiration and who find cost a worry, Persil has produced a free app for iOS and Android devices. Called Free the Kids, it has been produced in conjunction with charity The Wild Network and lists 100 ways parents can entertain their children in the great outdoors.

I’ve had a good look at the app. You can choose where you wish the activity to take place: on your doorstep, in a park or woodland and by a river or the coast. You select how long you want the activity to last and the age of the children.


Free the Kids, Persil, The Wild Network,. active children, outdoor play, outside play, healthy children
The simplicity of the suggested activities is the app’s strong point.

The simplicity of the suggestions is very impressive. The app may suggest flying a kite, making a butterfly feeder, making a mud volcano or playing conkers. The app lists many cost effective activities.


Persil, Free the Kids, active children, healthy children, outdoors play, outside play
You can keep a track of how many activities you have completed

Jennifer King, senior brand manager for Persil UK and Irlsnd, explained why the company decided to launch the app. She said: “We truly believe dirt is good and outside play is an essential part of a child’s development. We also know parents’ lack of inspiration is one of the biggest barriers British families face when it comes to outdoor play so we wanted to create something to help parents free the kids.”

Although Persil’s survey highlighted some of the barriers preventing outsoor play, it also revealed some classic forms of entertainment remain very popular. A trip to the seaside was the most popular way children wanted to spend time outside (69%) followed by day at a theme park (62%), day at an adventure park (39%), camping trip (27%) and bike ride (21%).

Do you encourage outdoor play in your child? If so, what is their most popular activity? Maybe you struggle with inspiration or cost. If so,

please leave a comment below. I’d be interested to know your thoughts.



Disclosure: This post was produced in association with Persil.

10 thoughts on “Free the kids to play outdoors”

  1. The Wild Network are a great organisation. I agree, cost should never be a barrier as the outdoors is all around us. I hear people who live in cities complain about their lack of outdoor space but they have giant landscaped parks around the corner. Our whole blog is pretty much about the outdoors so we are obviously huge advocates of getting kids outside. We’ve just signed up to the Hike it Baby 30 challenge to for September which is another great initiative.
    Potty Adventures

    1. Not heard of that initiative. I will look it up. Thanks for commenting David and glad to hear you are also an advocate for outdoor play.

  2. I spend my life in wellies covered in mud or sand. I find it harder to keep them indoors.We love going to the beach in all weather or a walk in the local park. I did a blog post recently about a full day out in Fleetwood with 2 kids that cost me the grand total of £1.60 !! Imagination and planning is all thats needed #BinkyLinky

    1. I spend as much time as possible outside. In fact, when the weather is bad it often provides the best excuse to go outside as the kids love getting dirty. As for imagination, I feel sad that many mums and dads can’t think of things to do outside. Their kids are missing out.

  3. Oh I downloaded the app and it doesn’t work! Stuck on the first page with the wheel just spinning! Anyway, I love getting outdoors with our girls. We have lots in the garden in the keep them entertained, love going for walks and gardening. Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky

  4. We have a trampoline for the kids. They love it and can play on there for hours (fights not withstanding!)

    They all love football and hurling. During the summer we went to a local stream a few times where they climbed over the rocks and splashed about for hours!

    Even Little Miss OMG loves being outdoors, either climbing fences, running around or playing on her little push along.

    There really is no excuse for getting outdoors with the kids.

    1. I quite agree, there is no excuse. You simply have to make it happen. I used to find my eldest was reluctant, but once she was outside I couldn’t get her back inside again!

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