This post is by regular contributor Debi Huang of Go Explore Nature.
Let’s face it: It’s not always easy finding time to get outside with your little ones. That goal becomes especially challenging when kids or parents are sick, the weather isn’t cooperating or other life demands get in the way.
And yet even 15 minutes outside a day can help boost mood, restore energy and provide a nice break to your usual routine. Not to mention you never know what you might discover when you head out your back door!
So how can you make outdoor time a habit you can keep? While I’d love to say I have the answer, how about I just offer up some friendly parent-to-parent tips that have worked for us? Here goes:
1. Put outdoor time on the schedule.
You schedule everything else in your kids’ lives; getting outside shouldn’t be any different. Got a daily or weekly to-do list? Make sure spending time outside is on it.
2. Keep it simple and have fun.
The simpler the activity, the more likely you will be to do it – and do it regularly. Getting outside can be as simple as playing in the dirt, going for a walk or watching a sunset. Seek out adventures that make you laugh and bring you joy.
3. Consider the weather.
No one enjoys being outside if it means being uncomfortable. Always dress for the weather. That means layers, hats and gloves in cold weather; hats and cooler clothing in the heat.
Weather can also dictate when you head outside and for how long. In extreme heat, avoid the hottest times of the day and stay in the shade when you do venture out. Aim for activities that focus on staying cool, like water-based fun. Or limit your outdoor time to evenings.
In extremely cold temperatures, you’ll want to restrict outdoor activities to short blocks of time. And keep moving!
4. Have some ideas on hand.
Sometimes kids are begging to head outdoors. Other times, not so much. That’s why we create a seasonal list of things we’d like to do outside. We post it on our front door where we can see it several times a day. How’s that for motivation?
5. Spend time outside with friends.
Trade home-based playdates for ones at the park. Or head into nature on a hike, picnic, beach trip or snow play outing.
6. Be ready for messes.
I for one love it when my kids get really dirty playing outside. But I know not everyone is a fan. So make it easy on yourself by preparing for messes when you can.
Dress kids in old clothes for play in the dirt or mud. Use a puddle suit and rain boots for walks in the rain. And wear swimsuits for water play, hose play or the like. Keep towels by the front or back door so you’re ready to clean off messy kids as they head inside.
7. Make outdoor time a family affair.
Our family often heads outdoors during weekends. In just a few hours’ time, we’ve explored new trails, gone apple picking, headed to tide pools and had a picnic at the park.
Now it’s your turn! How do you make time to get outside every day?
P.S. Looking for more inspiration for your family outdoor time? Why not check out Debi’s 31 Days of Backyard Nature Fun. It’s packed with great ideas.
- 9 Ways to Encourage Indoor Kids to Play Outside
- Outdoor Play Ideas for When It’s Raining or Dark
- A New Years Resolution to Encourage Unstructured Outdoor Play