Tomorrow is National Get Outdoors Day This is a no-brainer for my family; we love to be outdoors as often as we can. But if you haven’t been outdoors much recently, or struggle to find activities the whole family can enjoy, then have a look at this list and see if you can find some last-minute options to spend time outdoors as a family.
1. Visit a local playpark
Maybe you think you’re kids are too old for that now, or you’ve only visited one across town. You’d be surprised how much kids of all ages enjoy climbing, swinging, and having space to run around. We have a local park with a zip slide, and another with an outdoor gym, one with a sandbox, and lots with flat trails the kids can ride their bikes on. Get online and find a list of your local parks and what they can offer so you can pick one that suits your family best.
If you’re like us and are regular visitors to the park anyway, search out one you haven’t visited before. Or ask to meet up with friends at their favorite park.
Pack some snacks or a picnic lunch, a blanket and a few books if you think some kids (or adults!) might get bored while the others are playing. One of the things I love about going to a playpark is watching my kids interacting with whoever else they find there, meaning they depend on my far less for input into their play. If you’re lucky, it means the adults in the group might get a chance for a decent chat too!
2. Spend time in your yard (with neighbors)
While going further afield than your own property is more fun, if you’re short on time, or struggling to find the right option for your family, at the very least get out into your backyard! Even if you don’t have much space, you can set up some buckets with water and kitchen implements for toddlers, or hand the bigger kids some sidewalk chalk. If you have any families in the neighborhood with kids, take the plunge and invite them over. Just the act of being outside your house means your more likely to interact with neighbors. Last weekend while in our yard we spotted a school friend of Red’s out for a walk with her family. They live really close, but we had yet to see them outside of school drop-offs and pick-ups. They stopped in and we had a fun afternoon where the kids could play and the adults could get to know each other.
3. Go on a neighborhood walk
Even if you live in a built-up city or heavy suburbs, you’d be surprised what pockets of nature you can find if you take the time to walk around and investigate slowly. We have the great advantage of walking access to the Boise foothills from our street, plus a neighborhood market with an ice cream machine and beer on tap! But even if you’re not that lucky, pack some snacks and see what you can find out about your neighborhood that you didn’t already know. Let the kids control the route (within reason!) and if you have a map, see if you can trace your route, or find something interesting on the map that you want to investigate.
4. Visit a State Park (or plan a trip to one)
We have a few State Parks within a day drive from us, but for some reason, we’ve only visited two! We always get an annual State Parks Pass with our car registration, as I love to support our local parks, and try to visit them when we’re further afield. This summer break, I’m going to make an effort to tick a couple more of our list. We don’t have time for a trip to a State Park this weekend, but I enjoyed checking out the website to find out where ours are and talking to the boys about which ones we might want to visit this summer. And if you haven’t figured out what you want to do on Father’s Day next weekend, then a State Park might be a good place to visit!
5. Get on your bike!
We love riding our bikes, but we live up a hill, and it can be hard to jump on them and ride somewhere without planning. Red is just about the age where he could ride back up, but Smalls is most definitely not! It means that we often have to put the bikes in the car and drive somewhere first, and sometimes that can feel like just too much effort. If you have bikes but rarely ride them, make a plan to go somewhere on Saturday! Talk to your kids, think about whether you could put in the effort to get the bikes on the car and drive somewhere, or even better, if you could get somewhere interesting from your house. Could you make it to a friend’s house or a playpark? Maybe to a corner store for a popsicle? Once you’ve done it this first time you’ll find it so much easier to get out on your bikes again.
If the kids are resistant, try this trick
If your family is not used to spending time outdoors together on the weekends, this might come as a bit of a shock to the kids! Just as the mental effort of planning a trip on a bike or to a park can be hard for us adults, moving the kids from their normal activities like TV or video games can be hard for them too. Check out this post on Taking a Mental Picture: How to Help Kids Transition to an Outdoor Activity if you want to see what works for our family. For us, if we’re looking to try something new, it really helps to talk about it in the lead up to the event, and try and get the kids excited about it. Encourage the kids to help pick the outdoor activity, or to investigate the state park online before you go, for example.
I’d love to hear from you if you’re planning anything special for Go Outdoors Day, or if you made it outside. Please let me know in the comments.