I've always been a proponent of activities in the great outdoors (i.e.picnics, leisurely strolls under the sun etc, but it should be known that I am not necessarily talking about those with fantastic self-discipline who wake themselves up at 5am everyday because they "love to run under the sunrise"). Seeing how these simple things have had on my disposition, I therefore strongly believe in the power of activities outdoors, like gardening, to turn around one's outlook (at the very least to the value of time spent outside, if not overall -although I may have been watching too many Mr. Men episodes) which has been true for many of my extended family, who view this nature cultivation as their own therapeutic release, but also with children, who still have an innocent wonder to the magic that is nature.
And for those of us who know what it is like when their children are cooped up indoors- we see what a big difference outdoor time has on kids. And it's not just about the gardening (although admittedly that does "build character"), it's about just getting some good ol' fashioned fresh air. There truly is no maximum time a child can spend playing outdoors, running around in the grass, exploring jungle gyms and so forth - it gives them a chance to breathe, to take in and digest everything that has been bombarding them in the classroom, in their daily lives, in the high expectations of their parents) and, at the end of the day, kids need to be kids. It's the natural release valve that we all wish we could have that we cannot afford to deprive or take away from our kids (although I bet most are begging to stay in and play the new Zbox-what-have-you) and despite the fact that there are already not enough hours in a day to do what we all need and want to do, it's amazing how much just an hour, or even 30 minutes outdoors can do to our psyche, much less our stress levels - so it's not surprising that researchers are also saying it's great for mental health
So get out there - go for a walk, run, skip, jump, whatever - just go...and take your kids with you.