Parents are always looking at the best and most enjoyable ways to keep the kids busy over the holidays, but now this is coming to an end, you should start thinking about what you can do the next time the half-term rolls around.
If you’re someone who loves being outdoors and embracing the fresh air and freedom of nature, you understandably want to pass this on to your kids. However, you might not think they are ready or willing to love the great outdoors the same way as you. This can be disappointing, but your kids might just need a little encouragement to realise why the great outdoors is, well, great.
If you’ve already got big plans for the next half term, here are a few ideas to help your kids get interested in being outdoors so you can start a successful family tradition.
Throwing your kids in the deep end is no way to endear them to the great outdoors, so the best way to make them fall in love with nature is to start small. This means you should probably avoid those 13-mile hikes around the Peak District.
Instead, go for local walks that are short and sweet and not too far from home. This will make your kids comfortable being outside, especially if they spend most of their time flicking through their tablet, and it will give you an idea of how much distance they can handle. If you finish the walk with a trip to the park, it gives them something to look forward to, also.
Great Outdoors – Do Trial Runs
Trial runs are another fantastic way to make your kids more comfortable with being out of their comfort zone. As much as you might enjoy pitching a tent and camping overnight, they might struggle to be away from home.
So what can you do to make them more comfortable and make sure the surroundings are familiar? Opting for backyard camping brings the end of both worlds together. They can see what it’s like to sleep in a tent, but they can still feel safe being so close to home. You could suggest garden camping with their friends if they don’t want to share a tent with you as an alternative.
Make Sure They Are Comfortable
Even the steadiest terrain and the mildest of days can become uncomfortable for kids who aren’t used to being outside. With this in mind, you must help them be as comfortable as possible.
When going on a walk, no matter how small, pack clothes for all types of weather. While it might be sunny at the start, the rain could come along to ruin it all, so a waterproof jacket is a must. Likewise, masks can protect their lips and necks from the chill, while a spare pair of socks can keep them comfortable if they step in a muddy bog along the trail.
Great Outdoors – Ditch the Buggy
Every parent dreams of the day they don’t need to bring the buggy along with them, but your kids might feel attached to this, especially if they think they can use it to get out of doing any exercise.
Ditching the buggy and encouraging your kids to walk all by themselves should help them realise that walking anywhere isn’t all bad. There might be some resistance at first, and there may even be some tears, but it’s for their benefit, so make sure you don’t give in.
Stay Positive Despite Their Complaints
Speaking of staying strong, you will need to deal with plenty of complaints. Your kids might tell you their feet hurt, that they are hungry, or they’d rather be at home watching TV.
Not of this should be a surprise, but you must make sure you stay positive. You might feel like you’re the only one having a good time, but persevering will help your kids see the beauty in outdoor activities. You could even share stories of your youth and how you never liked being outside either (even if this is bending the truth slightly) to encourage them to keep going.
Don’t Force Yourself to Stick to a Plan
You may have your entire route mapped out, but this doesn’t mean you’ll get to finish it. There is any number of things that could happen while you’re outdoors, so some flexibility can help prevent problems and keep spirits high.
Things may not go as smoothly as you hoped, and you may even underestimate how complicated the trail is. If this happens, you should always have a plan B to fall back on. While this might mean you need to cut the adventure short, at least you can keep the kids happy, and you’ll still get to show them some of the outdoor beauty.
Contextualise What They See
It’s difficult to feel passionate about something when you don’t know anything about it. This is how your kids will feel when you’re trying to encourage a love of the great outdoors.
It’s a superb idea to educate yourself on plants, trees, and even animals you might stumble across. This will give your kids context about where they are, and you could even turn this into a game where they need to find a specific item along the trail to win a prize (which will make them forget about any boredom they complained about earlier).
Let Them Carry And Contribute
Likewise, kids don’t want to feel they have been dragged along. If anything, they want to feel like they are part of the adventure. They want to feel involved.
You can make this possible by asking them to carry items, help you put up the tent, or even show them survival skills that will make the experience much better. They can use these skills later in life and will feel more confident when out and about, even if you’re not with them.
Great Outdoors – Encourage Them to Get Out of the House
As much as you want to spend time with your kids, life can get in the way, especially during the school holidays if you’re still working. But, their outdoor education doesn’t need to be put on hold just because you’re working, so encourage them to get outside themselves.
If they are old enough to be trusted going out with friends, let them ride their bikes or go for a local walk. This will help them feel more mature and give them the chance to impart some knowledge of their own to their friends.
Show Them That You’re Having Fun, Too
Your kids will always look towards you as a model for how to feel and what to do. If you don’t look like you’re having fun, they won’t have fun either.
So, when taking them on an adventure, make sure to keep your spirits high and be enthusiastic about as much as possible. Keep them engaged with their surroundings and ask them questions about what they see, or tell stories about your experiences in the great outdoors. The more fun you look like you’re having with them, the more positive their experience will be, and it’s something they will start looking forward to.
The Great Outdoors
No one develops a love of the great outdoors overnight, and it might take your kids some time to deal with the lack of showers or digging holes in the ground for makeshift toilets. However, as long as you don’t force them to love the outdoors the same way you do straight away and you show a little patience, they will soon come around to the idea, and they will start looking for adventures all by themselves.