Tips for Spending More Time Outside with Your Kids in the New Year
Spend more time outside this year
Most parents usually set a goal to simply spend more time with their kids and family. If that’s the case, we implore you to take some of that time outside! I can speak on behalf of all of us here at RWMC and say that making it a priority to get outside with our loved ones has been a game-changer!
Spending time outside, engaged with each other, and off screens is a great way to better our emotional and physical selves. Getting outside makes you healthier and happier (and who doesn’t want that?). But we also know that getting outside with kids is easier said than done. So, I’m here to give you some tips on how to set some realistic and practical goals to start spending more time outside with your kids. Are you ready to get started?
Be intentional with your actions
When it comes down to it, the thing that is going to get you and your family outside and spending more time with each other is to be intentional. Intentionality is where it all starts, and it starts with us, the parents.
Being intentional about your choices of what you do is something that takes a lot of practice and willpower. This is definitely something I haven’t mastered and I think we will always have to work on it, but when we are intentional about certain things we can see the good that comes from it. If we want our children to learn to put their phones downs, turn their iPads off, shut down their laptops, then they need us to do it first. When we model balance to our kids they will see it and learn from our examples, maybe not right away, but they are watching and looking to us to teach them.
If we are intentional about getting off our screens, our kids will see that. If we are intentional about making getting outside a priority, our kids will see that. Spending time with our kids away from technology is a gift and a treasure. In a world where so much is competing with our time, it seems like now more than ever we need to show our children they matter to us more than our screens.
Practical tips for spending more time outside with your kids
Now I want to share some practical tips that are easy to implement and have worked for my family and others I know. Taking little steps at a time, making small changes here and there really go a long way! Over time, each of these little things add up to big things and before you know it, you’ve become an outdoor family!
Set yourself up for success
I think one of the best things you can do when you start any new routine or make a lifestyle change is to start small. Big change doesn’t come right away and usually leads to overwhelm and giving up. If you start with small and make spending time outside attainable and achievable, you’ll set yourself up for success and grow to love that quick wins.
Instead of focusing on all the big things you’d like to do outside with your family (eventually), focus on what you CAN do easily and realistically right now. Start with one day (and not even the whole day). Set aside an afternoon once a week where you do something outside. Start small and local by heading someplace that’s easy to get to and doesn’t require a lot of planning or prep work. Local parks are great for these outings. Our family has a few favorite local parks that we have on rotation. I will usually let the kids decide which park we go to that day, and if there’s a stalemate then we try and come up with a solution to go to the other park next time.
Incorporate their interests into your outings
Another tip for spending more time outside with your kids is to make sure to incorporate the things that they like to do in your outings and adventures. Before heading out, think about what you and your kids enjoy doing when you’re outside? When my family and I head to a local park I let each of my kids bring something they want to do like a basketball or soccer ball. If your kids enjoy riding bikes or scooters, turn your outing into a weekly bike ride, instead, or pack up the bikes and head to the park.
I think it’s important to let kids have a choice in what they want to do. If you have a child that has a hard time getting off screens or off a video game letting them choose what you do outside is going to help motivate them! Also, be prepared to join them in whichever activity they plan on doing! One of the biggest draws for kids spending time outside is that their parents are there spending that time with them.
Don’t let the weather ruin your plans
Unless the weather in your area is really extreme (and dangerous), don’t let less-than-ideal weather keep you from getting outside and playing. There are amazing things that happen in all kinds of different weather. The great thing about playing outside during “bad weather” is that you’re teaching/showing your children that they don’t have to wait for a warm sunny day to get outside and play. You’re teaching them resilience and grit. You’re showing them that there’s beauty and joy in all seasons. These are lifelong lessons that will help them get outside year-round.
Invite friends to join you
If your kids are anything like mine, then they are probably much more willing to go out and do something if they know their friends will be there! Another great tip for spending more time outside with your kids is to invite other kids (and families) to join you!
Maybe once a month you plan an outdoor play date with another family (or multiple families). Ask some of your mom friends and find out if they would be up for a group hike, a lake/beach day, or to go sledding. For the most part, you don’t even have to have an activity planned. When kids get together outside, they naturally find things to do and games to play. The creativity really starts to shine! Plus, this will give the parents a chance to catch up with friends while the kids play! (and we could all use some extra friend time right now)
How to find outdoorsy families in your area
If you don’t have a lot of mom-friends in your area or know of other families that would be interested, never fear! Local parenting groups on social media can be good places to start. Or, you could join a local Hike it Baby chapter and tag along on a group hike with other moms and kids. You can find other outdoorsy families by signing the kids up for a nature class at your local conservation area, botanical garden, or science center. Or look into Tinkergarten or a similar outdoor class for kids.
When I first moved to Las Vegas a new friend told me about a hiking homeschool Facebook group she was a part of and invited my family on one of their hikes. I have to say that was one of the best things I did during my first year in a new place. We got to know other local families, visit some amazing local spots, and find community in other like-minded people! Some of the places we visited ended up being family favorites that we still visit often!
Go somewhere new!
Sometimes we all need a break in our routine or a change of scenery. If your outdoor adventures feel stale or boring, it’s time to shake things up a bit. And maybe it’s time for a bigger adventure.
Is there a place you’ve been wanting to check out but just haven’t yet? Perhaps a hiking trail, a different beach, or a newly built park on the other side of town? Find a free weekday afternoon or weekend when nothing is going on and put it on your calendar! Schedule it. Commit to it in advance and make it happen!
If you’re stuck when it comes to finding new inspiration or places to explore, simply Googling “best hiking trail” in your area can often show you some trails you haven’t explored yet. Or open the AllTrails app and just pick one! Ask other moms what their favorite “off the beaten path” thing to do with their kids is. Start a list and add to it anytime you hear of a new place. Who knows, this new place could end up being a favorite place to adventure and make memories.