As the weather warms, daily time outside can make a big difference for you and your family. Here are a few easy, go-to activities from my book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids.
1. Take a daily routine outside on a blanket.
If we think about it, a lot of our daily routine can be brought outside. Picnics in the yard are great for meals and snacks. Use that picnic blanket for reading outside or homework. Another twist: a friend of mine preps whatever dinner vegetables she can outside while her three-year-old plays with her dolls beside her.
2. Shadow dance.
On a day when you can see your shadows, start making funny moves and watch your shadows dance. This can be very fun and funny. The more shadows dancing, the more fun and funnier it gets. Don’t forget to share your favorite shadow photos and videos with the grandparents!
3. Got rain? Look for animal tracks.
Take a walk outside—in the park, the yard, or the woods— and see what kinds of tracks you can find. Sometimes the tracks you find may be your own. How can you tell? Compare your footprints to those you may find on a trail or a path. Are there other signs that animals are around? A bird’s nest? A hole at the bottom of a tree? Animal scat? Broken nut shells?
4. Get curious on an evening walk.
Questions spark children’s natural curiosity and help them to learn; as a family, we also learn about each other. “If you could fly like a bird, where would you go?” is one of my favorite questions from my Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards, a set of 50 portable, open-ended questions on ring. My younger son likes to pick out a card and my older son likes to read it.
5. Watch the sunset as a family.
Notice where you might be able to go as a family after dinner to watch the sun set. If your family is up for it, go ahead and have a picnic dinner outside. If it feels too chilly for a sit-down meal, try an after-meal variation with a picnic blanket and your favorite family game to soak in that extra daylight, together.
Daily time outside has not only been good for my family, but also brought us closer. The kids are more likely to step outside first or invite a neighbor outside when looking for something to do. The daily adventures right beyond our door step have even shown up in the kids’ school writing. And what about Mom? For me, time outside is my daily lifeline. With some fresh air and movement, I feel grounded, active and strong, yet relaxed. A welcome antidote to stress!
Rebecca P. Cohen is the go-to spokesperson for outdoor activities anytime of year. Continually inspired by children, time outside, and world travel, Rebecca is working on a children’s book series. Learn more at RebeccaPlants.com.