This post is brought to you by Trex.
Some people desire to spend their weekends with scenic trips and picnics; others look forward to overnight camping adventures; and some want to be outside as much as possible. Something we can all agree on though, is that the feeling of sunshine on your face, a breeze blowing through your hair, and how your lungs feel full with sweet fresh air can make you a little bit happier. Maybe it’s because if we weren’t outside we would be inside working in a small cubicle under fluorescent lighting. Maybe. I tend to think it’s a bit more than that. We don’t need studies to tell us that getting outside is a surefire way to feel better and bring a smile to our face, do we? Just being in nature and having our senses flooded with our surroundings helps bring calm to even the busiest of minds. It does me anyway!
If you’re looking to get outside more with your family here are a few personal tips of mine to do so.
- 1. Start a nature collection. Whenever you’re outside going for a walk or just watering the flowers, take notice of what’s around you and gather new leaves, rocks, or snail shells you find. You could take photos to save or save the real item to put on display. (Don’t save acorns without boiling them first….I learned the hard way that little bitty bugs live inside and grow to be disgusting bugs in your vases.)
- 2. When time allows, grab your meal and take it outside. Chinese take out works great for this but even a breakfast bowl or dinner plate works too. Have a designated table to eat on or spread out a blanket to enjoy your yard.
- 3. Plan birthday parties and play dates outside if whether allows. Outdoor games are always more fun and the kids won’t constantly be told to use their “indoor voices.” Win-win!
- 4. Spend evenings together and instead of sitting with electronic devices after dinner head outside. Start a tradition of going for a walk after dinner or maybe even go on a family bike ride.
- 5. In the summer catch fireflies together. We bought butterfly nets for this purpose and have had such a blast with it this summer!
- 6. Learn about the animals around you. Study the types of bunnies you have running through your yard. Observe their behaviors. Our family has a lot of deer, squirrels, and birds. My kids have even named our squirrels. (Chicco and Dale have red tails and Chip and Cheesy have brown tails. Ha!)
- 7. Create a nature journal and doodle some of the things you see. This can be fun for adults too!
- 8. Make a family event calendar and make appointments to visit every park in your area this year. Don’t forget to search for walking trails, paddle boats, horseback riding, and other activities parks may offer.
- 9. Go treasure hunting as a family. Give letterboxing or it’s techy counterpart geocaching a try!
- 10. Teach them simple outdoor activities that we enjoyed as a kid. Things like skipping stones, making daisy chains, and making a whistle out of a blade of grass. Simple things can still be fun!
- 11. Create and hang homemade bird houses and bird feeders. Watch what different birds come by and maybe even keep a journal of the different ones you see. Recently, we were at my in-laws and my daughter stopped what she was doing, stared out the window and pointed with urgency and said, “birds!” You would have thought she hadn’t seen them in real life before. It was just fascinating to see them up close. We already have bird feeders at our home that the kids enjoy helping fill but I think I’m going to add kid binoculars to our bird watching supplies.
- 12. Use the supplies around you to make crafty creations. Whether you make the leaf craft above, or write your names using piles of sticks, or make a Christmas ornament with a pine cone and a whole lot of glitter you’ll have fun gathering your nature supplies as a family.
- 13. Play games outside. Hopscotch, badminton, and catch are all super easy and fun. (We’ve never been good enough to actually use a badminton net but I suppose that would be more of a hassle setting up if you used one.)
- 14. Buy rain boots and rain coats for the family and have fun. Being silly and doing things your kids don’t expect is one of my favorite things about parenting. I just love to see their little faces light up like a Christmas tree!
- 15. Along the same lines as the one above, buy some cheap water guns, fill a bucket with water, and let everyone have a blast shooting each other. The one rule we have is that you can’t shoot someone when they’re filling up their water gun. 🙂
- 16. Plant a garden together. I have the worst green thumb ever. Seriously. We still have fun attempting to get things to grow! This year we managed to keep two hanging baskets alive for most of the summer. It was a team effort and I’m proud of our accomplishment. Maybe next year we’ll keep a vegetable alive or keep the squirrels from eating all the tulip bulbs!
- 17. Let them play in the dirt. I prefer for my kids to play in dry dirt as opposed to wet but they still need a bath either way so I guess it doesn’t matter. Experiencing the sensory sensations from digging with a spoon in bare earth can’t be duplicated and bought at a store. Plus, all the little critters you find are just fun!
- 18. Go outside at night. Lie on your back and watch the stars or maybe if it’s bright go for a moonlit walk. One thing I want to do with my daughter this year is to track the phases of the moon. She’s seen the markings on the calendar and I want to show her step by step what that looks like in real life.
- 19. Use a magnifying glass. They are such great tools for kids to look at creepy crawlers up close or my favorite, the underneath part of a mushroom! Plus they’re also fun for burning leaves…notice I didn’t say ants. 🙂 (with adult supervision of course!).
- 20. Have your children make a map of their neighborhood (or yard). This is another activity I want to do this fall. It seems like one that will get their minds working to observe and track the things around them.
- 21. Build a fort. Inside forts are great for rainy days but what about sunny ones? A few spare bedroom sheets, string, sticks, and some imagination are all it takes. ….and maybe some adult assistance.
- 22. Learn about clouds and then go outside and observe them.
- 23. Read to them outside. Because we homeschool we have more opportunities for this than some do but if you’re already reading to your child why not do it on a quilt outside together? Reading and drawing outside are some of my favorite things to do alone and with my family.
- 24. Paint with nature. As a child I used to find light colored rocks and red berries or flower petals and color the rocks with them. Sometimes I would write words and sometimes I would color the rock completely pink.
- 25. Painting with fingernail polish (preferably old bottles) is also a great way to color some rocks around your house. Why not make a rock garden with them or make little pretend fairy homes out of them?
- 26. Rocks rock! Gather shimmering quartz crystals, smooth pebbles, and strangely shaped rocks. Then research them and learn all you can about them.
- 27. Have a hula hooping contest to see who can hula hoop the longest. Or maybe jump rope.
I hope these ideas have inspired you to get your family together and get outdoors for some quality bonding time. If your looking to spruce up your outdoor area to make those spontaneous reading sessions or dinners outside more doable you should look into our sponsor Trex. It’s made of 95% recycled materials and it won’t splinter, crack, or stain. It’s low maintenance as it easily cleans up with soap and water. We’re constantly expanding our outdoor area. We have a new swingset (new to us), and a porch swing. We’re hoping in the future to create a separate deck space just below our house where we can grill out and chill out outdoors. We don’t have all the plans laid out but one thing for sure is that we want to go with Trex composite deck and railing.
To learn more about Trex visit https://lowes.trex.com.