Most weekends as a family we plan a little day-trip – we head to a familiar park, explore a new one, play on the beach or work our way down a trail. Before we reach THAT MOMENT that screams, “get me out of the house,” my husband and I make the eye-contact, “where to this time?” Sure, it’s fun to switch up the scenery and check-out somewhere new, but really the WHERE doesn’t usually matter. The “end” of getting out as a family includes quality time together, learning something new, getting exercise, shaking the sillies out, and soaking up the tranquility of the outdoors. The means of achieving these goals does not have to be complicated. In fact, our simplest adventures – a walk to a boardwalk nearby or a trip to our favorite park – are often our most memorable.
While there are endless ideas for getting outside with our children (I’m guilty of providing some of those! :)), sometimes the best suggestion is SIMPLICITY – just go. Go! – and see where the children “take” you. Let their imaginations develop. Offering ideas is wonderful and can prompt their little minds in new directions; intervening in their play and adventures too often, however, teaches them to rely on others. Discern when to share an idea and when to send them on their way. Boredom can be a catalyst for creativity – try not to give-in to the demand for attention or entertainment. Find the balance of being present while encouraging their independence.
Simplifying my own expectations helps me to let go of my own ideas and to leave room for the kids’ own discoveries! Allowing for child-led expeditions is part of the process of encouraging our little ones to become the little explorers we hope them to be. When the child takes ownership of the adventure, it truly become his. Instead of Mom or Dad writing the script for him – he feels that proud moment, “I did it.” That is the moment when it clicks, and he begins his journey.
Do you agree with the thinking, simplify? How do you make the most of your outings with little ones?!
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