This is the time of the year when for families in particular the focus shifts to school and schedules and away from the trail. It’s easy to set aside outdoor adventures for the summer months and give them little thought throughout the late summer/fall, especially as our commitments ramp up.
However, the benefits of outdoor family time aren’t limited to just when we can make them happen. Ideally, they are an integrated part of our daily life, and break up the monotony of “desk time” while relieving stress.
It can be quite a shock for kids especially to go from a summer of outdoor freedom with hours spent outside, to the typical American education system spending most of the day sitting inside with just a couple short recesses. While that is an entire issue in itself, the point is that outdoor time at home becomes even more critical.
We all have excuses and time commitments and reasons why we can’t – no time, tired kids, tired parents, the turning weather, the impending less hours of daylight, etc. However, the benefits of making it happen anyway (in any capacity you can) include healthier and more adjusted children, less stress, better concentration at work and school, and stronger family bonds.
Here’s a few ways to just get out and fit it all in:
- Once a week plan a picnic dinner. Like I mentioned, the days are only getting shorter so now is the time to do this. Keep the family together for meals, but take it outside. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy — sandwiches and fruit will do just fine. Hit a local park or picnic area if you can — stay in your own yard if you must.
- Commit to 15-60 minutes of outdoor play time as a family before anything else happens in your home after work/school. Put dinner in the slow cooker so you don’t have to worry about it right away. This is where Wildtree saves my life. Resist the urge to just send the kids outside while you “get things done” inside. Remember you are setting an example for them that is louder than any words you say. Plus, the fresh air is good for you too!
- Go on an after-dinner walk. Getting darker out? Bring a headlamp. They make it more fun anyway. Just go around the block if that’s all the time you have. Everyone will sleep better.
- Set aside a couple hours over the weekend to explore a new area or trail. Late summer and fall are gorgeous in most areas. You don’t have to fight bugs, the heat, or massive tourist crowds. Even if you just get an hour out, it still “counts”.
- Take some time for yourself outside. If you have kids, take turns with your spouse/partner/another family so you can recharge too. Leave the headphones at home and find peace in the silence. It does wonders to melt away the little stresses that really don’t matter anyway.
© Updated in 2018, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.