Not everyone is a fan of the outdoors. Although, this doesn’t mean that you find going outside torturous. Perhaps just like me, some days it just feels better to be at home, sitting on the sofa and drinking tea. However, there’s no doubt that the more engaging and stimulating activities for children are found outdoors.
At the same time, there are different studies that prove that nature is not only fun but also beneficial for every child’s growth and development. Exposure to nature improves their mood and alleviates stress. And in this era, I would much rather see my child going home dirty and muddy, than needing eyeglasses from long exposure to their phone and computer screen.
Raising children inevitably requires you to make extensive changes. And most of the time, these changes are so different that they make us uncomfortable. However, you have to realize that you are also growing alongside your children. Getting out of your comfort zone slowly might seem like you’re not making any progress, but you are.
Perhaps the thought of getting dirty, cuts, or a bug accidentally falling on you is enough to deter you from leaving your beloved air-conditioned home. But let me tell you how it’s possible to make the outdoors as appealing as being at home.
Prepare Ahead of Time
As I have mentioned earlier, I don’t hate the outdoors. In fact, before parenthood, I enjoy hiking, camping, and even rock climbing with my friends in my childhood town. But now, I realize that I also love being at home. I love reading books, trying new recipes in the kitchen, and just binge watching a new TV series when I’m not working.
But now that I have kids who happen to love the outdoors, I understand the thrill and excitement they feel when we plan a trip out of the city. I felt the same rush they get in seeing new places when I was their age. And as much as I feel the ease in saying I can’t go with them on weekend fishing trips with their dad, I know that I’ll be missing an incredible bonding experience.
I realize that the reason why I would rather stay at home nowadays is because the idea of going outside my comfort zone with two kids feel overwhelming. Back then, I know my limitations and needs that I can even plan a hike with just a night to prepare. However, you have to know that you can also prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed just by planning.
Having a clear idea of what you and your family are going to do will allow you to anticipate potential problems. This way, you won’t feel surprised, and you’ll even be delighted if those problems that you assumed didn’t end up happening.
For example, my 16-year old is your typical phone-is-always-at-hand type of teen. I know that he will enjoy the hike but will probably complain about the lack of reception in the evening. If my son complains throughout the night, I can’t help but think of “this is why we should have just stayed at home”. I’ll probably end up fantasizing of lounging in my pajamas while eating chips in the living room as he continues to whine about him being left out in the group chat.
If you anticipate potential setbacks like this in your outdoor trip, you can be prepared in facing them. My husband and I always discuss the activities that we can do to tire everyone out. This way, your kids are less likely to realize what they currently lack in this new environment. Besides, they already love the outdoors, you just have to keep everything exciting and new.
Lastly, don’t forget to pack everything that you’ll need. Making a list of necessary items and checking everything before loading them in the car will save you patience, time, and money. It will also ensure you that everyone is going to be comfortable throughout the trip.
Ever since you’ve discovered the joys and comfort of being at home, it will be hard to appreciate the total opposite, which is being outdoors. However, you can still tap your inner outdoor-loving self, so that you can keep up with your adventurous kiddos.
This doesn’t mean that you have to start very big like river rafting immediately. But take a step forward even just a little. Don’t doubt yourself to the point that you’ll talk yourself out of your weekend plans. When you feel that your inner voice is arguing and making excuses, try and contradict it.
Sure, on your younger years you might enjoy a 12-hour road trip to sleep in the middle of a desert. But now, start small with something that everyone in the family can enjoy. You can also search for campgrounds or a local hiking trail. Rediscover your love for walking around and admiring the nature with your kids. And the best part is that double strollers like these are not even heavy to push around if you have younger children. So yeah, you have no excuse in going outside.
These activities are different from what you’re used too, but not so much that you’ll have a negative association with going outdoors. Gradually, you’ll find that it’s much easier to transition into bigger and longer outdoor activities with your kids.
You can also find a common ground with your kids about the plans that they would want to do. Eventually, everyone can try something new, without the discomfort. You can even divide the activities, so that everyone has their own duty in the outdoors.
My kids can go fishing with their dad as I prepare our tent and where we are going to cook. It’s pretty exciting for me to create the dishes, and my kids also enjoy finding wood that we can use for our bonfire.
Overall, know that you don’t have to limit yourself in outdoor activities. Some families might enjoy biking off road, while others prefer to drive at the countryside and rent an RV to sleep in. Trust me, deep inside is still that pre-parent version that loves the thrill and slight uncertainty of what’s going to happen outdoors. It is also a bonus to watch your children experience things firsthand.