Summer is the perfect time to get outside and get active with your kids. The keyword in that sentence is with. Just sending your kids outside isn’t the same. I’m talking about you physically being outside with them. They’ll love doing things with you and the attention that you are giving them. You’ll love that they aren’t idling their day away in front of a screen and you might even like the added exercise for yourself, sunshine on your face, and the decreased mess inside the house.
I think that kids want to be outside having adventures and building memories, but it’s up to us, the parents and grandparents, to help motivate them and help them get there. Most of us have a natural inclination to want to take the easy path; planning and doing outdoor activities isn’t always that path. I promise though, if you are willing to take the steps to get outside and go on adventures with your kids, you both will be rewarded.
Here are 10 ways to help motivate you- the adult- to plan, participate in, and enjoy some outdoor adventures, big and small, with your kids this summer.
10 Tips to Get Outside with your Kids EVERYDAY this summer.
1. Have a loose daily schedule that includes outdoor adventures
I’m a big believer that having some loose structure to your day is the way to go. Kids need things in their lives that are dependable and that they can expect to happy, but over-scheduling and rigid structures aren’t any better. Finding a happy middle will change you days into magic. Here’s how we manage the majority of our summer days- breakfast, chores/garden/farm work, lunch, outdoor adventure, quiet time, dinner, baths, bed. See, super loose. If I want a longer adventure then we do less chores and bring lunch with us. In the middle of the summer when it’s really hot in the middle of the day we’ll do just a few short household chores after breakfast, go outside, and then finish up farm/garden work after dinner. Make and plan and make it happen.
2. Keep a “Yes” stash in your car
Keep necessities in the car for spontaneous adventures. Keeping a well loved picnic quilt, water, a few snacks(sunflower seeds and graham crackers keep well in our car), sunscreen, diapers, and wipes in the car at all times means that I’m ten times more likely to say yes to spontaneous fun. I plan on adding some nature journals and field guides to my stash too. We were doing some city shopping a few weeks ago and I was done and ready to head home. We passed a really cute little park and the kids asked if we could stop. It was later than I would have liked but I knew that I had enough snacks and water in the car to get us home and so I said yes. We only stayed about 20 minutes but they still talk about the time that we stopped and played anytime we drive through that town. Make saying yes easier on yourself by being prepared with a stash in your car.
3. Make a List
Sit your kids down and ask them what they want to do and where they want to go! Think of tried and true favorite spots(the river, the apple orchard at Aunt Sally’s, or your favorite park), specific parks/hikes/trails, things you might save up for(amusement parks, fancy swimming pools/splash parks), free events happening in your community(festivals, movies in the park, farmer’s markets). Don’t get stuck on locations either, think of things that you’d like to do and let the activity help determine the where. Find somewhere to make s’mores, catch polliwogs, collect river rocks for a craft project, go paddle boating, ride bikes, draw with sidewalk chalk, or pick berries. Stick the list on the fridge where you can see it and start planning to make things happen. A few of the later points expand on the ideas for the list-making, so keep reading!
4. Try Something New
Something new is always fun. Sometimes “new” can be as simple as exploring a new bend in the river, hiking a new trail, or going some place new to draw with sidewalk chalk. We went up to our tennis courts the other night and sat for an hour drawing with chalk. Those same sticks of sidewalk chalk had been laying in the rocks by the side of the house for at least 2 weeks untouched, but going someplace new made those forgotten pieces of chalk come to life. And all that room to draw was magic. Long trains and a “meadow” of flowers came to life and then we laughed at our funny outlines as we all took turns laying down and tracing each other.
5. Know your tried and true favorites
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always want to go on a grand adventure every day. Sometimes I’d rather pop in a movie and blog all afternoon, so on the days that I’m feeling a little sluggish or unmotivated I like to stick with my tried and true spots. They are places that I’m comfortable and know what to expect. They also happen to be places that don’t require much effort on my part – the kids don’t need shoes or clean faces to go, they are close to home, and they are familiar. We have a favorite spot down by The Shanty where we play in the river, there’s an easy hike right outside our front door, and there’s a little town park a few miles away that we enjoy. When I’m feeling really tired I’ll bring a book and just sit on my picnic quilt and read. The kids are still outside and being active and I’m getting a little downtime of my own. When the afternoon is over I’m always glad we went. Always.
6. Use your adventure as an incentive
It’s no accident that chores are loosely scheduled right before an outdoor adventure. It’s amazing how quickly things get done when there’s a fun incentive and goal we are working towards. We like to firm up our plans for the day over breakfast and then the kids know what’s going on and have some time to look forward to what’s coming. When I have something extra I want help getting done (washing cabinet fronts for instance, no ones favorite job), then I be sure to plan an extra fun outdoor adventure that day.
7. Invite a Friend
Another tip for those days that you don’t really want to go out and play is to invite a friend. You are accountable to show up because someone is expecting you and then you’ll have someone to talk to. Mom’s need playdates as much as kids. We women need to talk and uplift each other. We are all in the throes of child raising, which is no small feat, and having a friend to talk to once in a while makes all the difference on the hard days. We love inviting friends to go to our favorite places with us because most of the time they are new to them even if they are an old hat to us.
8. Make it a hobby or incorporate established hobbies
The other day I wanted river rocks for the kids to paint and so we made it a two part project. Day one we collected the rocks and played in the river and the next afternoon they were painted. Our crafting hobby carried into our outdoor activity time and it was great. Our garden, lambs, and bunnies are all hobbies that help us enjoy being active outside. Love to cook? Grow a garden or hit up the farmer’s market. Love to paint? Get the kids some supplies and go find a beautiful landscape. What hobbies do you have that can be turned into outdoor adventures with your kids?
9. Have the right equipment
I love baby-wearing because it gives me the freedom I need to do more things with my kids. The baby is portable and I have my hands free to help with the siblings. I also have a double jogging stroller that I would be lost without. And then there are the framed hiking backpack carries that we got at the thrift store and use often, the giant beach umbrella, and our favorite picnic quilt. Having the right tools for the job makes life so much easier. If you don’t have the tools to be active outside with your kids consider buying or borrowing them.
10. Sign up for an event
If you sign up to participate in an outdoor event or race then chances are good you’ll practice in preparation, in addition to participating. Paying to participate in something is just the motivation that I need sometimes. The first 5K that I ever ran was a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in downtown Louisville. I was and am not a runner, but I ran for a few months before that race in preparation. That sign-up fee and looming race date were amazing motivation.
If you are looking for an outdoor adventure geared just for kids, the fun folks over at Horizon Organics have created the Kid’s Adventure Games. Here’s what they had to say about it, “We know that keeping your kids active and engaged can help keep them happy and healthy. The games offer kids ages 6 through 14 an opportunity to experience the thrill of adventure racing. Kids learn teamwork skills, have fun and build confidence in a one-of-a-kind outdoor experience created just for them.”
You guys, the more I looked into this the more I wanted to have my kids do it! The kids are on a team with one other person and together they do biking, climbing, adventure racing, and team building. Wouldn’t this be awesome for siblings or cousins to do together? The Utah event was the weekend of my sister’s wedding, so we couldn’t go, but I’m hoping they’ll plan this again for next year. You can check out the details, schedule and locations on the Kids Adventure Games website. If you signed your kids up for it, then you could start training as a family which sounds like a lot of fun to me.
So there you have it, ten tips on how to get outside with your kids and some more information on Kids Adventure Games. The outdoors are calling! Are you making the most of your summer?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Horizon Organic. The opinions and text are all mine.