We hear it all the time “kids need less screen time, more outside time”. Intentions aside, in today’s world of social fears, urban living, and over-scheduled lives, it’s hard to get your kids outside. It’s hard to get ourselves outside! We don’t need more lectures on why kids need outdoor time. Instead we need practical solutions on motivating our kids to play outside!
The pandemic altered life in many ways, forcing more families behind closed doors. If your kids got accustomed to too much screen time, you need to break them out of that rut for the sake of their health. What fun activities inspire a love of the outdoors in your little one?
Fortunately, most kids naturally take to outdoor play. All you have to do is supply the requisite spark by getting them out there and engaged.
You also reap considerable benefits from spending more time outside with your little ones, improving your physical and mental health. Here are some tips to get your kids to love the outdoors.
Get Them Involved in the Planning
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Ask your kids where they want to go exploring and what they want to do. This will get them more excited about the trip before you even leave the house!
If you’re not sure where to start, try asking them what their favorite animal is and then do a little research to find a place where you can go see that animal in its natural habitat.
Go outside with them
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Your kids will want to go outside more if you go play with them. Kick the ball around, have a game of cornhole, go splash in the creek… Have fun, let them see you smile and enjoy yourself. Ask them what they’d like to do outside instead of telling them what they’ll be doing.
One strategy which works well for us is the ‘summer bucket list’. At the start of the summer holiday we brainstorm outdoor activity ideas on a big piece of paper, then tape it on the wall as a reminder.
Another strategy which we’ve found effective is designating a day (or a few days) of the week for ‘family adventures’. Each family member takes turns deciding on the activity and destination. This way, the kids know they’ll get to choose one day and there is more excitement in going outside as a family.
Some families have success with an already compiled outdoor activity calendar. You can grab these 4 weeks in nature calendar and bucket list to see if they will help motivate more outside time for your family.
I’m sure that most kids would not turn down your offer to be their outdoor playmate. Just give it a try.
Get Them the Right Gear
If you want your kids to love being outdoors, it’s important to make sure they have the right gear. For hiking, they’ll need comfortable shoes and clothes that can get dirty.
A small backpack is also a good idea so they can carry their own snacks and water. If you’re going camping, be sure to bring along a tent big enough for everyone in your family.
Sleeping bags are also a must don’t forget pillows! and don’t forget about camp chairs for sitting around the fire. And no matter where you go, always pack plenty of sunscreen, hats, insect repellent, and water bottles.
It’s also a good idea to have first-aid supplies on hand, just in case. With the right gear, your kids will be comfortable and safe no matter where your outdoor adventures take you!
Online resources you might find helpful and inspiring
Hike It Baby is an organization dedicated to getting families together and out into nature with birth to school age kids. With over 300 branches, they are a great resource to connect you with others for hikes and outdoor activities in your local area.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @hikeitbaby
Family Adventure Project: Stuart and Kirstie are a husband and wife team who share an adventurous spirit, a passion for independent travel and three growing children. Their multi-award winning blog, The Family Adventure Project, is part of a long term experiment in doing adventurous things together as a family.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @familyadventureproject
Backwoods Mama runs a blog on getting outdoors with children. It is filled with helpful advice and tips for parents looking to get outside more often with their own kids, based on her own experiences of hiking, biking, camping, rock climbing and skiing as a family around the western provinces of Canada, the west coast of the US and further abroad.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @thebackwoodsmama
Adventure Mamas is a nonprofit organization that supports women’s health and wellness through adventure. They run expeditions, community events, and workshops focused on wellness. Their blog also has plenty of great content to help moms lead active and adventurous lives both with their kids AND for their own sakes.
Facebook, Instagram: @adventuremamas
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