Before Richie and I had kids we had big talks about how we would be as parents. From sleeping babies to dealing with behaviors to not feeding kids junk food, we honestly thought parenting would come pretty naturally to us. After all, I was a teacher and Richie worked at a therapeutic boarding school! We thought we’d seen it all. We thought we knew the tricks of the trade for dealing with big behaviors. Well, we were wrong. Both my kids have been terrible sleepers, despite trying to sleep train them. It just didn’t work. Yes, I lay them down in their own bed to fall asleep. But that doesn’t stop them from waking up a few hours later! Four years after getting pregnant with my first, I’m still sleep deprived. As I type this, my kids are eating Lucky Charms. I’m trying all the gentle parenting techniques I can find and we still deal with huge emotions. I also still can lose my patience. Just being real here, folks.
But there’s one realm where we both knew we would be successful, no matter what! That is being an outdoorsy family. And, fortunately, both our kids have embraced our outdoorsy lifestyle. They’re typically up for anything we throw at them and usually with just as much enthusiasm as we have. I attribute this success to our attitude, consistency, and making outside time a priority. I know that trying new things with your kids can feel intimidating. The first time we took River camping we chose an off the beaten path location outside of Moab, UT and I nearly stepped on a baby rattlesnake while scouting for a spot for the tent! To think that I was possibly endangering his little life was intimidating. I had a few moments of second guessing bringing a baby into the desert. But seeing him interact in nature, playing with rocks, and checking out the desert scenery decided to take him there worth it! I believe that trying new things, and doing hard things helps us grow stronger and more resilient! Getting outside is good for the whole family. Getting over the hurdle of how to make it happen could be all it takes to get your family out on their next adventure. Here are 5 ways your family can begin getting outside more frequently.
1.Prioritize outside time: We prioritize our outside time by creating systems that support outside time. My biggest success in getting outside each day is by having a routine with our outside time built in. My kids expect to go outside at certain times in the day, and they will be at the door waiting if I’m not ready yet! Another strategy that helps me is by doing housework on the weekdays and leaving the weekends free for bigger adventures. Being organized is essential when it comes to prioritizing the outdoors. Keeping our gear organized makes getting outside quicker for our family. Each member of our family has a space for their own stuff, tucked into our coat closet. We also try to set aside bigger blocks of time on the weekends for bigger family adventures.
2. Get outside locally: The easiest way to get outside is to utilize your local resources. Checking out your local outdoor scene helps you get to know your area. It’s also much easier to access when you stay closer to home. You may be surprised to find what’s so easily accessible near you. To find more information about outdoor escapes near you, start with a simple Google search! I also like to go to the National Forest website and see what information they have on trails. Local Facebook groups can also provide trail information. Richie and I have lived in 4 different states together. We have spent time right away getting acquainted with the trails, lakes, rivers, and mountains around our new location with each move. Here in Minnesota, we have a huge network of hiking trails (cross country skiing in the winter) just 10 minutes north of our house. Each trail twists and turns around a network of lakes and ponds. There’s rarely anyone out on these trails, giving us a sense of seclusion out on the hike. I’m always a bit surprised when friends say they haven’t hiked these local gems yet. When we lived in Utah my teacher friends joked that I’d seen more of Utah than they did, and they were from Utah. Even in Oklahoma, we had access to mountain biking trails within 20 minutes of our house. You don’t have to travel far to find green space and often big adventures.
3. Try something new: A new experience as a family can be a way to get yourself out of your comfort zone, while also making some great memories. This can be as mild as trying fishing to as wild as going whitewater rafting. Ask your kids what they would like to try to get some ideas going. Trying something new as a family creates memorable moments of learning, sometimes struggling, and just experiencing a whole new skill. For our family, moving to a lake in Minnesota, helped us to embrace fishing! Richie and I were never that interested in fishing before moving here. Richie would fish with his grandpa and enjoyed his time fishing with him. We gave it a few tries on camping trips, but we never had that much success. Once we moved here we realized that fishing is a BIG DEAL in Minnesota. We began trying to fish from the boat and docks at camp and found that River loved to fish! We talked to local friends to get some ideas on how to be successful. Now it’s one of our favorite activities when we’re wanting to have a more relaxing outside experience. No, we’re not pulling in huge walleye but we are having a good time together!
4. Invite friends along: Going with other families on an outdoor adventure can be a great way to ease into getting outside. Getting outside with friends relaxes the mood for the family, and just adds to the fun! Having moved around a lot in the last ten years, I know making new friends can be difficult. The easiest way for me to make friends has been through meetups outside! There I can form relationships with people that I know I have one big thing in common- getting outside. I’ve even begun a toddler playgroup around camp to help us meet new friends. There’s nothing better than connecting with other families outside! Kids have friends to play with and the adults have friends to chat with. It’s a win-win! Plus, more friends means more people to share snacks with.
5. Work up to bigger adventures: I mentioned this last point when I suggest getting outside locally. But I think working up to bigger adventures is key. If you and your family are wanting to try camping start with car camping and work up to backpacking. If you’re wanting to take up biking or hiking start with shorter mileage and build up your stamina before taking on a big adventure. This can also be relevant for travel plans. Before you take that quintessential trip to a National Park on your bucket list make sure you have broke in your hiking boots on local trails! Your feet will thank me later!
If you’re new to getting outside just remember that with any adjustment, take your time and gradually build up to bigger adventures. It starts with making time in your schedule and exploring local adventures. Be willing to try something new and out of your comfort zone. Invite friends along for the journey. And don’t forget to work up to bigger adventures! Before you know it your family is going to be rocking this outdoorsy lifestyle!