It’s no secret that families are spending more time indoors. Studies show screen time for children reaches an average of five hours per day and up to seven hours for teens, not including school or homework-related screen time.

This has effects on the mental health and well-being of these children – dubbed the ‘indoor generation’ – and severs an important connection to nature and the outdoors built from a young age.

You may be feeling the effects of spending more time indoors yourself, keeping stress levels high. Luckily, there are a few ways involving the whole family to combat these negative feelings.



Growing plants from seed is one of the greatest joys of gardening. Watching a tiny seed grow into a mature plant that you nurtured, especially edible plants that can then be used in the kitchen, provides an instant connection.

It’s also a great family activity that brings everyone together, inspiring younger kids to get involved in gardening. Think back to your school days when you may have tried sprouting beans between layers of cotton wool – the excitement of green growth appearing was almost unmatched.

Replicate this feeling by getting the whole family involved in the growing process from seed to harvesting.

gardening kids with adult supervision

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Engaging with nature is proven to improve health and wellness in a number of ways. These benefits are so strong that they’ve created a branch of therapy known as horticultural therapy, defined as ‘the engagement of a person in gardening and plant-based activities, facilitated by a trained therapist, to achieve specific therapeutic treatment goals’.

An essential element of horticultural therapy is engagement with all the senses through the creation of sensory gardens, designed to fully immerse people in nature to boost mood and cognitive progress. These sensory gardens can also be wonderful for kids, combining outdoor play areas with plants aimed at interaction.

Try planting scented flowers that bring the buzz of bees, or lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina) with fuzzy leaves that are impossible not to touch. This will bring both you and your children closer to nature, making the experience of being outdoors much more meaningful.



For a more involved weekend garden DIY, forget complicated tree houses – try creating a living teepee. These structures take some patience while the plants grow, but are well worth the wait when complete. They also blend well with the rest of your garden and offer an opportunity to grow more edible plants.

a teepee in the garden

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To create a living tepee, start with a few bamboo poles anchored into the ground at an angle and secured at a central point. Wrap string around each of the poles horizontally to create a support structure for vines to climb up.

Then, choose your favourite climbing plants to sow at the base of the structure, ready to train up the tepee. Climbing edible plants like beans are great options, but you can also choose quick-growing ornamentals for greater cover.

Don’t forget to leave a gap between the two poles for an entrance. Continue to train the vines up the tepee until it is completely covered with greenery, creating an enclosed living tent with an almost unlimited number of uses.



Many of these family garden projects apply to younger kids. But when it comes to spending less time outdoors, older children are far more likely to be the ones stuck inside.

One outdoor feature bound to combat this is an outdoor cinema. These come with an element of nostalgia for parents, reminiscent of drive-ins, and turn every movie night into a fun activity for all. You’ll also be surprised at how much more exciting and engaging a movie night is when you turn it into an outdoor event, escaping your normal environment and embracing the fresh air. To create an outdoor cinema, you’ll need a projector and a screen.

outdoor cinema

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Screens can either be attached to an outdoor wall or fence or hung between two poles dug into the ground. Make sure the projector is protected from the elements by placing it under a patio cover or even indoors facing outwards. Then, lay a few picnic blankets down, dotted with cushions and more blankets to make the space extra cosy. Hang some string lights above the area for a special touch.

Grab your popcorn and enjoy an evening outdoors with the family.



Was anyone else obsessed with fairies and other fantasy characters as a child? I was gifted a fairy ornament at a very young age that evolved into an entire collection.

While these ornaments are not as in fashion now as they once were, you can recreate that whimsical feeling in your own backyard to delight younger children and involve them in your gardening activities. Start by dotting a few ornaments around the garden where they can be seen.

To take it a step further, you can create small fairy homes by painting the bases of trees with tiny doors. Invite your children to decorate their own parts of the garden, giving them ownership and making them feel as if they are part of the action.


Cultivating sustainable communities through nutritious gardens with Soil for Life

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