5 tips for getting children outside
I love being outdoors. Rain or shine I am always up for an adventure. The beach is my happy place and so any chance I get we're there. My 3 children however have 3 very different attitudes to the great outdoors.
Oldest is my most adventurous and when I'm the only one who wants to leave the house she's usually the easiest to convince to come with me. Middle most often needs to be dragged outside kicking and screaming, it is very rare he actually wants to go, but 99% of the time once there he loves it. Youngest just wants to be Middle, so he thinks he doesn't want to go, but get him alone and he loves an outdoor adventure.
So on the weekend when the kids are ready to hibernate after a busy week at school, and Husband often has the same inclination, how on earth do I round them all up, drag them away from their screens and get them outside? Well, let me tell you my top 5 tips...
1, Involve Food
Don't ever, ever take your children out for a walk or other outdoor adventure without making sure you have a bag full of snacks and drinks. Always ensure you have more than you think you could realistically need, they can sense a lack of provision a mile away.
We will regularly tell the children that we are going to the beach to enjoy our afternoon snack, and if the snack is deemed good enough they are more positive about the outing. In spring and summer you will find us regularly packing up our dinner and taking it to the beach. The kids rarely resist the idea of a picnic lunch or tea outdoors. We have found food to be a great way to encourage our children outside.
2, Dress Up
No not you, but you can if you want. We have found our children have a lot more fun exploring outside if they get to dress up for the occasion. We can often be found with spiderman in tow, or with 3 knights fighting "Dragons" in some of Wales' beautiful castles, and we've even taken a Panda to the beach with us.
Why not give this a try next time the kids are reluctant to get outside. After all, adventure doesn't have a dress code.
3, Bring a Friend
Some of the most successful walks or outings we have had with our children have undoubtedly been because we invited other people to join us. It's not the easiest to coordinate with peoples' busy schedules, but if you have friends who love adventure too, try inviting them along.
Most of our friends have children much younger than our 3 (the price you pay for having children in your early 20's) but despite the age gap our three are always more excited for an adventure if they know other people will be coming with us.
4, Have a Purpose
It's all very well and good saying to our children we are going for a walk at Rhossili; voted one of the most popular beaches in the world, or that we are going for a walk up some of the most stunning mountains in Wales. This might impress an adult but it won't impress my children. They have been spoilt living somewhere so beautiful and they take it all for granted.
However, if you tell them we are going on a scavenger hunt, or geo-cashing, or that there is treasure buried at the end of the walk, or even just a cafe waiting on the other side, they are much more likely to get on board with the idea. Taking ours to do climbing, or watersports have been great ways to get them excited about going out. Even just letting them bring a toy along can make them more receptive to the idea. Ours will often bring their kiddy cameras, or a favourite teddy along with them, and it does help keep them entertained.
This wouldn't be a very honest blog post if I didn't confess to you our go to method of getting the kids outside. If they are reluctant to put down the screens, then we tell them they can play with them in the car on the way there, or if there is something they really want to do at home we'll tell them they can do it after we have had some time outside, and so on.
In an ideal world they would relish the chance to get outside as much as I do, but we have done such a good job in today's society of giving our children all of the creature comforts and entertainment within our homes that this just isn't the reality for most families. So compromise can be your new best friend.
If all else fails, try to remember that you are the parent, and even when it doesn't feel like it, you are in fact in charge.
My social media may make it look like I have managed to raise children who love the outdoors, but more often than not, what you don't see in those photos is the battle we've had at home to get them out there. However, we keep fighting the same battle because without fail, once they are outside they love it, and they might even enjoy it more than I do.
(Probably not, but I can tell myself they do.)
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