I was thinking about the past the other day and how I would not “get outside” with the kids because I was burdened down with EVERYTHING. There was no time for getting outside. I was running here and there, cleaning this and that, and generally overwhelmed. What mom of 8 wouldn’t be, right? How do you get your family outside?
Well, here we are planning a hiking adventure and trying to get more fit, so we don’t die from exhaustion while doing it. What has changed? NOTHING! I still feel as busy as ever, even with 3 adult children living on their own. But what has changed is my thinking. The kids growing “in a blink of an eye” may have something to do with it. I’ve realized that life is too short to wait until I have time. Quite honestly, I’ll never have time! One has to carve out time to do what they love.
Here my top tips to get your family outside … Priority, Preparation, Planning.
Schedule the time outside.
If time is impeding you from getting outside, schedule a time. I realized quickly that to be successful in getting the children outside; I had to set aside time to do it in our schedule.
Check the weather at the beginning of the week to see the best time to put your outdoor time in.
But what if the weather turns? Yesterday our scheduled hike got canceled because of the rain, so we took it to the local YMCA. Life’s not over if the weather stops you. You can head to an inside location to get it done. Keep the scheduled time slot active!
If you don’t “put it on the calendar,” it probably won’t happen!
Prepare in advance for your outside trip
If you’re like me, half the battle getting out the door is making sure the kids have all the gear they need. Have you ever been down the road, and one of the kids tells you they have no shoes on? It’s not fun, ask me how I know.
Let’s do the math for my family, 7 sets of everything! That’s 77 individual items just to go on one hike! Thinking about trying to gather all of that is almost enough to make me give up before I start.
I keep all hiking gear in one location, washed and ready to go. Each child is responsible for returning the hiking items to me after the hike, and I have a location where I keep everything matched and ready. What used to take hours to do now takes just minutes because it is all together. It makes my blood pressure lower and hiking more enjoyable.
For families with infants/toddlers, get a hiking backpack child carrier. Trust me; you want to get a good one. When our kids were little, we purchased one from REI. It was well worth the money. Why? First of all, it was so comfortable. Second; It had adjustments everywhere and padding where you needed it. Lastly, it had all the little compartments you needed to store snacks, diapers, wipes, and everything else. Deuter Kid Comfort Child Carrier
Know before you go! Do some research and PLANNING before you go to an outdoor activity. Remember, you are trying to get your family to enjoy the outdoors. Poor planning can lead to outside time disasters.
Local Hikes: (City Metro and County Parks)
Check out your nearest park to get started. These are usually city or metro parks. They are smaller and easy to navigate—perfect places to start for the outside newbie.
For example, Columbus Metro Parks have some amazing outdoor gems that are waiting for your family to use! They even have winter hike schedules and are great ways to meet other families getting outside. Sometimes they even have warm drinks or more after the winter hike. What a great experience!
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with your local parks, you may want to branch out to your state parks. You can check your state parks out online and see which one might be right for your family. We have found some state parks have lodges, cabins, and restaurants where you can relax and regroup after a day hike. There is nothing like taking a weekend getaway to a rustic place in the woods to enjoy nature with your family.
We love our National Parks. There are many locations throughout the United States. Grab your computer and a cup of coffee when you sit down to start your planning because the National Park Website will sidetrack you for hours. Admittedly, the website is not 100% user friendly, but as you learn to navigate it, you will find a tremendous amount of information. There are videos, articles, live web cameras, and information about every park.
I personally have used the National Park educational materials to teach my children history and science! We have a bucket list of locations we want to go to. Let your kids help pick the destination and plan your next family trip!
Here is a link to the Gleason family’s favorite hikes! Hikes
Don’t give up
What if you keep trying and you keep failing? It’s ok. What if the kids complain and whine? They will. Keep going outside. Learn how to engage them in the outdoors. Do they like snakes? Have them count how many they see. Do you love birds? Help them learn to identify them and keep track.
Take breaks on the trail, have a snack, and listen to the sounds of nature. You’ve got your children with you, so don’t try to “race through” your outside time. You’ll be miserable, and so will they.
What if ______? Yes, there are lots of those. Send me your questions, and I will share with you what has worked with our kids.
We skipped our outside time for a while; how do we get back to it? Only you know you’ve been unable to keep your hiking dates. Reschedule your hike at your earliest convenience, and then go for it!
Hopefully, these tips to help get your family outside give you a springboard to helpful ideas! We hope that as you begin experiencing the great outdoors, you’ll continue to feel the draw to get out and enjoy this great creation!
Happy Outdoor Adventures!
Matt and Brandy
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not buy these products unless you feel you need them or help you achieve your outdoor goals.