Do you spend much family time outdoors?
We all know the benefits, don’t we: it helps keep us fit, allows us to engage with and learn about nature, combats stress, and stimulates creative play, to name just a few. Time spent outside is also often listed as one of the ways to be more content.
We try and get outdoors together as much as possible, but the hectic pace of family life sometimes makes it tricky to fit it in. Inevitably there are days when we have other commitments and an outdoor trip just isn’t possible, but in my experience it’s often little things that have stopped us grabbing some fresh air.
With these little things in mind, here are some tips and tricks to help you increase your family time outdoors.
Get kitted out for all weathers
The weather can be pretty changeable regardless of the season, and there’s a good chance that an outdoor adventure will get damp and muddy. I’ve learned the hard way that heading out dressed in the wrong clothes can really ruin a trip, so it’s well worth checking that you’ve got the basics for each family member, and stocking up if not.
At this time of year my kids quickly get hot once they start running around outdoors, so we go for layers of t-shirts and a fleece, rather than one thick jumper. Waterproof jackets are a must-have; Engelbert Strauss have a good selection for adults and kids. Waterproof all-in-ones are brilliant for younger kids – and don’t forget the wellies, hats and gloves for all ages!
Create an outdoor adventure bag
This is a great little trick to have up your sleeve on an outdoor trip, and it has saved the day many times for us when the kids were flagging. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive; the idea is to have a small bag containing a few props which you can use to spark off an activity, or keep the kids interested.
What you put in your bag is of course up to you, and will be influenced by the age of your kids, but consider things like a compass, some paper and crayons (for taking tree rubbings or making nature notes), a magnifying glass, binoculars, a spotter’s guide for minibeasts, and some double sided tape or string for making journey sticks.
Set up a grab-and-go box for outdoor trips
If you’ve got kids, you’ll be very familiar with just how long it can take to get everyone out of the house. Our record is just under an hour, and there were only three of us trying to leave!
To give yourself a better chance of making it outdoors, set up a ‘grab and go’ basket or box close to the front door. In it, keep all the little bits and pieces that you need for an outdoor adventure; for us at this time of year that’s hats, gloves, scarves, wet wipes, tissues, plasters and our outdoor adventure bag. The idea of outdoor time is far less daunting if you’ve got all the small stuff in one place, and don’t have to run around finding it before you leave.
Pack the snacks
Nothing keeps my kids going on a nature walk like the promise of a snack at an agreed milestone – and to be honest, it works for me too! Pop some healthy snacks in your bag before you head out, avoiding anything that squashes or melts easily. Dried fruit, breadsticks, fruit puree pouches and rice cakes are all good options. Exploring is thirsty work, so make sure you take plenty of drinks too.
Schedule outdoor family time
Yes, we’re all super-busy, but is everything on your ‘to do’ list really more important than spending some time together as a family? Of course not, but if you treat family time as a must-do task, just like all the other things on that list, you’ll stand a much better chance of making time for it. And time spent outdoors enjoying each other’s company will put you in a much better frame of mind for tackling those other jobs later.
Do you have any tips for increasing family time outdoors? Do share them in the comments – and if you’re looking for some inspiration on outdoor family activities the Wild Network website has lots of great ideas.