What will I do with my day today?
Work, eat, sleep… repeat. I often wonder..Will this routine that makes life “meaningful” ever change? Even adding Outdoors to the list of daily life activities can be a challenge. How can I enrich my family’s summer with outdoor adventure?
On top of the normal grind, I also have to think about how I can provide opportunities for my children to grow from life experiences. Finding healthy educational and social activities isn’t easy, and can be time consuming. The days go by and the intent for family play gets lost in homework and chores. Living in a suburban, condominium community does not really lend itself to nature walks, stargazing, or fun, outdoor adventures.
As a parent and teacher, I know how important it is to develop children’s minds using natural elements. Getting kids outside and in touch with nature makes them smarter. In, “The Benefits of Children’s Engagement with Nature: A Systematic Literature Review,” researchers identified “benefits for children related to time in nature in these general areas of health- wellbeing, cognitive processes, social skills, emotional/behavior issues, and ethics/attitude towards the natural world.”
Taking our kids outside is one of the best experiences we can give them.
With the summer here while juggling a 3 year old , 5 year old, and 15 year old, it isn’t an easy task to find meaningful daily trips that are inexpensive, or even better, free.
The Big Swings App allows me to search for swimming locations that are close to me. Not only can I filter the locations to find a suitable place for my family, but I can also get GPS directions, read others’ comments, see pictures, and get any pertinent information I may need to plan a safe, family day trip.
We pack a lunch for the day, gather our swimming gear, and press “Directions” on the Big Swings App. There are several swimming holes within an hour of my house. I am willing to make short road trips, driving an hour or so is perfect. I personally believe the car ride is part of the adventure. A lot of great conversations are sparked on these adventure rides… not to mention the pursuit to find our destination; finding the spot is like following a treasure map to a secret, hidden gem. But the X is a day of fun!
When we arrive, we go over our safety checklist. It is important to do this every time. Reinforcing the safety measures will stick with the kids forever. We talk about the dangers of some plants and wildlife, the importance of keeping to the trail, the reasons we don’t pollute, and most importantly water safety. Talking honestly about the dangers of water is serious, I make sure they know it. It’s up to us to keep our children safe. Always have a water safety device on them around water, we use Kingii Safety Devices and Life Jackets.
The exercise is exhilarating and healthy.
What a feeling to be outdoors! I take as many opportunities as I can to use our surroundings as an outdoor classroom; mother earth supplies enough peculiarity to practice- problem solving skills, broadening sense growth, earth|nature observations, and developing stimulating play.
Sometimes, more than I would like, the places that we visit are filthy: a parent’s safety nightmare. In case of this we always bring out trash bags, and my husband and I clean the area. There’s no better time to teach about keeping the environment clean, and positively no better way than to show them then by example. We also participate in the Adopt-A-Spot Program, the whole family feels part of the outdoor community with the #KeepItClean initiative. It takes a few minutes, but by the end- our family feels accomplished, proud, and ready for a swim!
In this technologically advanced world, options for inexpensive outdoor fun are hard to come by. Encouraging outdoor play and exploration can turn into an unexpected adventure for your family. Take the time today to go outside and play!
Adventure, wonder, and curiosity spark inspiration in all, young and old.
“Playful Styles Of Nature Engagement Yield Multiple Benefits For Children”. Children & Nature Network. N. p., 2017. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.