Updated: Jan 13
I am an outdoor enthusiast to my core. I attribute it to my upbringing on a ranch, you become accustomed to ample outside time from a young age. Upon the birth of our daughter Vera, my husband and I both wanted to instill an appreciation for nature in her upbringing. During her first spring and summer she took her morning nap outside almost daily. We transitioned from front carrier, to hiking pack to swiftly letting her take wobbly steps outdoors. Although adding her little sister, Vivian to the mix requires and extra component of planning at times I quickly found that though there are challenges the girls love the outdoors just as much as we do. Below are some tips that we've discovered along the way.
Be Prepared Gone are the days of grabbing your keys and heading out the door. Stock a diaper bag with outdoor necessities: seasonally appropriate clothing (it makes all the difference), sunscreen, SNACKS and of course extra diapers/clothing.
Be Flexible Some days you'll enjoy a day long outing and other days you might make it 5 minutes. I have learned to loosen my expectations and just embrace where my child is at for the day.
Be Consistent When she was only a few months old she used to swing with me and watch the trees. We started morning stroller walks from the time she was born and we still get outside every morning that we are able. I think her early exposure helped her develop an intrinsic joy for being outdoors.
Be Open minded Don't write off the opportunity to spend time outdoors with your family because of the season. Your littles might surprise you with their willingness to embrace the weather inclement or not, even chilly or rainy days can be a great day for an adventure!
I wrote the above post a year ago but wanted to update it with a current challenge our family is participating in.
Isn't it strange how certain things seem to coincide? Over the last few months I have noticed the difference it makes in my day when I got outside to take care of our animals first thing in the morning. I decided to start making it a priority to start incorporating morning movement outside into my daily routine. Around the same time a friend approached me with a similar New Years goal and we decided to get up earlier in order to go for a walk before the hustle and bustle of the day began. I felt it was a strange coincidence that we simultaneously had the same idea. Imagine my surprise when over the holiday break my sister-in-law got into a similar conversation. She told me about a book called "No Such Thing as Bad Weather."
It resonated with me not just as a parent but as an educator as well. The author, of Swedish decent does an amazing job combing her experiences as a parent in the U.S., current data and research and alternative lifestyles borrowed from her Scandinavian heritage. The theme of getting your family outside must have been one that was supposed to hit home for us in 2021. Shortly after I began the book my husband text me the link to the "10,000 Hours Outside Challenge". This Challenge was create by a parent that too was intrigued with allowing our children to learn through experiencing the natural world. Less screens, less tantrums and more simply being.
This was a springboard for me to start integrating changes not just personally but as an educator as well. Some days I take the students out after the lesson to do our mindfulness activities on the lawn. That led to taking students out for entire classroom counseling lessons in our "outdoor classroom" a row of bleachers on the football field and plenty of room for the yoga/movement segments of our lesson. There are certain days that it won't work but many days I hope the outdoors keep children engaged and interested in learning.
As a family we venture out on the weekends but our outside time is often skimped on this time of year. Daylight is scare and the demands of the work week generally dictate our schedules. Recently we have been making an intentional effort to bundle up for a wagon ride, walk through the fields and even make use of the outdoor play equipment despite the weather. Some days are shorter lived than others but so far it seems we all come inside in with rosy cheeks, bright eyes, wind blown hair and a generally more pleasant disposition.
Link to the book mentioned above: https://www.amazon.com/Theres-Such-Thing-Bad-Weather/dp/1501143638/ref=sr_1_1?crid=YM6BCYVFWK3X&dchild=1&keywords=no+such+thing+as+bad+weather&qid=1610554937&sprefix=no+such+thing+%2Caps%2C218&sr=8-1
Link to the Challenge: https://www.1000hoursoutside.com/