We know that outdoor time is great for kids’ health, happiness, and development – but getting outside every day is easier said than done. With warm weather here, now is the perfect time to build more outdoor time into your family’s routine, whether that means hitting the local state park or just spending more time in the backyard. Here are five ways you can find outdoor adventures and activities that work for your family!
Set Your Own Goals
There’s no right way to spend time outdoors, so do it your way and set some goals you’ll actually enjoy sticking to. Maybe that means mornings at the park, having some backyard picnics, or checking out the trails at the local state park on weekends. State and city park websites and local Facebook parent groups are great places to get ideas for outdoor activities in your area.
Simplify the Getting-Out-the-Door Process
The toughest thing about spending more time outside often isn’t finding things to do outdoors– it’s getting out of the door in the first place! From toddler tantrums to lost shoes to the all the time it takes to eat and get dressed, there are a ton of hurdles between you and the front door.
Try to clear a few of those hurdles with a little prep work. What you do will depend on your own goals for outdoor time and your family. That might mean pre-packing the car diaper bags, socks, shoes, and jackets. Or maybe it means packing an easy make-ahead breakfast or snack to eat at the park.
Invest in Some Outdoor Clothes and Gear
Have you ever heard the saying “There’s no bad weather, only bad gear”? It’s a favorite among the outdoorsy crowd, and we have a feeling your kids would agree too! You don’t have to get super fancy here. A wide brimmed hat and sun shirts are great for sunny days too! This philosophy will help you feel free to go outside on days where the weather is less than perfect – and actually enjoy it!
Check Out 1000 Hours Outside
The goal of 1000 Hours Outside is simple: help your kids spend 1000 hours outside every year. Sound crazy? The creator was actually inspired by a similar number: the amount of time kids spend on screens, which averages around 1200 hours per year. They’ve got tips for outdoor activities and trackers to log your time outdoors and help get the kids excited about the goal.
And no worries if 1000 Hours isn’t doable for your family – that’s a high goal, and it’s better to start slow and steady than to get discouraged by unrealistic expectations. Stick to your own goals for more outdoor time and just use their tips and inspiration to help you along the way!
Make Your Yard Kid-Friendly
We love the idea of kids spending hours out in nature, but sometimes (maybe a lot of the time), getting to a park or trail just isn’t happening. That’s when a kid-friendly yard makes all the difference. The kids can spend time outdoors while you wait for the repairman, work from home, or just relax on the porch. Oh – and the “getting out the door” challenge is taken care of too. There’s no shame in playing barefoot in your PJs when you’re in your own backyard.
To make a yard kid-friendly, you need three things: freedom, safety, and play opportunities. The first two go hand-in-hand. You can give the kids more freedom to explore when you know that the fence is secure or that they aren't stumbling into poison ivy. Play opportunities can include anything from a magnifying glass and a shovel to a swing set and slide. Try to create opportunities for different kinds of play. For example, playhouses are great for imaginative play; gardening tools are great for sensory play and exploration; and larger toys like swing sets and climbers are great for active physical play.
Deciding to get outdoors more is an amazing first step! Don’t be surprised if your kids need a little time to transition if they’re not used to this much outdoor time. At first, they might need a little help finding fun things to do – our 12 Outdoor Play Ideas for Kids can help with that! With time, you’ll see them become more independent and creative as they create their own ways to play and explore outside.