In the dead of winter, and the high temps of summer, sometimes it is really hard to motivate yourself, or your kids, to get outside. Getting outdoors can open a world of imagination for kids of all ages. Sometimes, all we have to do as adults is nurture that sense of imagination. Here are a few things we can do, to help children foster a love for the outdoors.
1. Join Them Outside.
Kicking kids out the door is not necessarily the best answer (at least not all the time). While kids and parents benefit from some away time, the example you set of getting yourself and your child outside is a really big priority.
If they don’t see you making an effort to get outside, there is no reason for them to even try it out for themselves. Show them just how much fun it is to play outside, no matter the outdoor activity!
2. Toss Aside Those Expectations.
Patience is key. Sometimes it just takes a little more time for certain kids to start enjoying the outdoors, because maybe it’s just really not their thing. If you are going into an outdoor activity expecting a certain outcome, more times than not, you (and your child) will be very frustrated in the end.
3. Schedule It Every Day.
Make going outside a normal part of your routine. What time works best for your family? Does right after breakfast work best? What about right when you get home from work? Or maybe an after dinner walk or bike ride through the neighborhood? Try to consistently set a time to head outside.
4. Do What THEY Love!
While we all have our outdoor activities that we love and we hope our kids will also learn to love, maybe you just simply need to rethink your game plan and incorporate what THEY love to do and take it outdoors.
Do they love to play soccer? Set up a couple of goals in the yard, throw on some gardening gloves and play goalie for an afternoon. Do they love to read? Hang a hammock and then head to the library so they can pick out a fun book to read in their cozy outdoor hammock. Finding things they love, while fostering a love for being outside, can really change the way some kids view the outdoors.
5. Make it FUN!
How? Get creative! Here is a list of ten super simple ideas, you can try this spring and summer, to ignite those creative little minds:
- Go on a nature walk. Give your child/ren a clipboard and a pencil and have them check off the items that they see, or write down what they see outside. BONUS: Each child gets a popsicle if they can find 10 things. Click here for a free nature walk printable from Toledo Moms!
- Bug Hunt! observe the bugs in your backyard with your child, and get up close and personal with a magnifying glass. Talk to your child about what colors they are, how they protect themselves (do they sting?) This is a fun idea to use, especially for language development!
- Head outside and search for wildflowers. Collect them and place them in a book to have pressed flowers. After a few days, check on the flowers. Place them in a frame, make a pressed flower placemat, or even glue them onto a piece of paper and make a card for a loved one! Here are some important tips when it comes to pressing your own flowers.
- Make a homemade nature bracelet. All you need for this easy craft is duct tape! Wrap a piece of tape around your child’s wrist, sticky side up, and head out for a walk in nature. Place flowers, grass, and/or leaves onto the bracelet as you walk outdoors. Click here to see an example.
- Do you love birds and want to get a closer look at them in your own yard? A DIY bird feeder will do the trick! Simply grab some pine cones, peanut butter, and some birdseed, and watch as the birds begin to flock to your yard. There are so many great bird feeder DIYs online. Here are the detailed instructions.
- Give your child/ren some pots and pans and have them create a dish for you to “try”. Encourage them to use outdoor ingredients only.
- Paint outside! Have you ever painted outside? Grab a clipboard, paper, and some watercolors and paint outside with your child. Tutorial here.
- Use the HOSE! Wash the paint away with the hose, hose down some chalk letters and shapes, have them water your flowers, or put all of their toys in a bin with some soap and hose water and have them give them a good scrub down.
- BUBBLES! Go through a kitchen drawer and collect slotted spoons, fly swatters, spatulas, and anything else that has holes to make bubbles. Head outside to see which utensil creates the best bubbles!
- Finally, it doesn’t have to be elaborate, just getting outdoors is key. Here are a few, low-maintenance examples: Take some books outside and read under a tree, give them a baggie of snacks and allow them to eat snacks outside, or just simply lay a blanket down and find shapes in the clouds.
Just remember, as parents, we can foster these wonderful memories. These are the moments children will hold with them for a lifetime, as they look back one day and think of their childhood. These are the moments you will remember too, mama. Not the stressed-out mama, not the overwhelmed mama trying to make it through her to-do list, not the run to Target and get my errands done mama, but the mama who took time to slow down, and just chose to be present outdoors, in the midst of this ever so chaotic life.
Have fun outside, mamas!