Illinois enforced its stay-at-home order as of March 21st, 2020. At the time of this article’s publication, it’s been 60 days we’ve been following the order–– which means you’re likely feeling cooped up or running out of ideas to keep you & your family sane (and even more likely, both).
With a serious public health crisis unfolding around the world, there’s no arguing the importance of getting outside to maintain morale and improve overall wellbeing. Research suggests that spending time outside can function as a natural medicine, improving your physical, mental, and emotional health. Spending more time outdoors is also linked to a lower risk of various diseases, and can help alleviate stress during these uncertain times.
Typically, working full-time can make it difficult to spend time outdoors. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93% of their life indoors. 87% of that time is spent inside, while the other 6% is spent in automobiles. This means that normally only 7% of the average American’s life is spent outdoors. With the current stay at home order, these statistics are shifting drastically as we speak; let’s be honest, nobody is spending 6% of their time driving anymore, and many of you now rely on play time outside while you navigate having your children 100% of the time.
Although COVID-19 is certainly not the ideal scenario to force us all outside more, it can be an impetus for better health & more quality time with your family–– right in your own backyard. Today we’re sharing some ideas that will bring you outside without having to leave your property. Keep reading if you want to take advantage of Illinois’ stay-at-home order while it lasts (without losing your sanity).
1. Count & identify the birds in your backyard
Of the 9,000-plus species of birds in the world, about 800 have been found in North America, and more than 400 of those species have been recorded in Illinois. Needless to say, there’s no doubt that as an Illinois resident, your backyard may be one of the best places to observe our flying friends. So build that birdhouse with your little ones, fill those feeders with birdseed, and get ready for hours of enjoyment for you and your family. For tips on which birds to keep an eye out for, visit this Illinois bird guide. How many on this list will you find?
If you find yourself with less backyard visitors than expected, it may be that you could use some wildlife-friendly landscaping, including trees, shrubs, and flowers that are native to Illinois. If that’s the case, Green Scene is #1 in Chicagoland for landscaping–– give us a call and we’ll help you determine the best plantings for your property that will provide food and safe nesting places. Your backyard will be a bird sanctuary in no time!
2. Measure the rain & hunt for worms
With all the recent rainfall in Illinois, there’s never been a better time to make the weather into a science experiment for your kids. Set a cup outside in an unsheltered location and monitor how much rain has fallen; this may seem super simple, but to your kids, it’s a fascinating way to learn about the climate. And we all know a good worm hunt is any child’s best friend – so make it into a game to see how many your littles can collect!
3. Build an outdoor firepit–– with the help of an expert
Summer is here to stay & backyard bonfires are calling your name. Answer that calling and let our team of hardscaping experts bring your s’mores game to the next level.
4. Make luminaries
Make the most simple, traditional luminarias with brown or white paper bags. Simply fold each bag at the top, then fill each with a couple of cups of sand. Add a votive candle, and voila! For safety, many folks now use a flameless LED votive candle or solar-powered light. Place the bags on steady ground along pathways like your driveway, and watch your property come to life at night.
5. Play alligator
Here’s how to play: your front walkway or sidewalk is the river and one person is the Alligator that lives in it. Everybody else has to try to cross the river without getting caught. When caught, they become Alligators until only one person is left (this is the new Alligator). Warning – kids love this game so much, you may have to become a more snappy alligator when it’s time to pull them away from this one. 😉
6. Install the outdoor oasis of your dreams
Whether it’s an in-ground pool for endless hours of entertainment this summer, an outdoor kitchen equipped for all the BBQs, or a new patio to simply relax while you watch the littles play, Green Scene is sure to make your outdoor living space an oasis that you’ll never want to escape from.
And there you have it–– 6 ways to get outside responsibly during unprecedented times, without leaving the comfort of your property. We hope this read has left you feeling inspired to embrace uncertainty, with certainty that you have plenty of ideas to stay busy, happy, and healthy.