How to Get Your Kids to Love Outdoor Activities
Not a day goes by when your kids aren’t bounding out of bed with glee to explore the great outdoors. Or at least they could be. If they didn’t have those things called phones. Electronics are highly addictive, with the average kid spending up to 53 hours each week on the things.
“Yikes” is right.
Fresh air is much more invigorating than a fresh round of Frogger. You know it. We know it. But your kids won’t know it unless you come up with clever ways to get them away from the screen and into the great outdoors.
If you want your kids to get off their phones and into the world, you don’t need to threaten, plead or beg. Just dare them. Dare your kids to spend as much time outdoors as they do on their phones. Then offhandedly say you bet they can’t do it.
Right there you’ve got ’em. Kids love proving their parents wrong.
Since there are only so many hours in a week, any kid that takes the dare won’t be spending 53 hours on the phone anymore.
You’ll see screen time go down and outdoor time go up. And no, phones are not allowed on outside adventures. Make that clear or you just might find your child playing on their phone under some tree.
Bargain with Them
Full disclosure: The dare might not always work. But coupons will. Let your kids earn coupons for every hour spent outdoors. Then let them trade in their coupons for—you got it!—screen time. Feel free to adjust the coupon length and power as needed. A small adventure might be worth half the screen time, while a grand adventure might be worth triple!
Put Your Own Phone Away
No phones on outdoor adventures for parents, too. Sorry, mom and dad. But if your kids can’t trek around a nature trail playing Minecraft, you can’t trek around checking your texts. You must walk the walk. And the outdoor walk is electronics-free.
In fact, why not give yourself the same goal you gave the kiddos: match your screen time with your outdoor time. Leading by example is powerful. And it often happens naturally. Just ask any woman old enough to realize she’s turned into her mother.
Make It a Group Effort
Boost motivation—and accountability—by turning your outdoor adventure time into a group activity. Set up weekly playdates with other parents. If someone’s waiting for you and your crew at the park, you’re much more likely to go.
Choose a different group member to pick the next adventure, whether it’s a new park, trail or activity to explore. If you really want to impress your kids, start your own neighborhood outdoor adventure group. Pull a few outdoor-minded pals together and plan incredible, kid-friendly outings that make Minecraft a mere memory.
You’ll not only have tons of fun, but you may also finally get a chance to meet those people who have been living next door for the past seven years.
Make it Stylish
You know the biggest reason kids are excited about going back to school is because they get new school clothes, right? So get them some new outdoor adventure clothes.
Pick kids' sun protection shirts with fun graphics, a lightweight UV hoodie in a perky color, and a sun protection neck gaiter they can’t wait to wear. Get yourself a few outdoor essentials while you’re at it, like a fresh UPF 50 long-sleeve shirt.
Don’t skimp on the base layers, either. Even if no one can see them, you’ll all love knowing your base layers are more stylish than most people’s outer layers.
Be Ready for Action
Enthusiasm for an outdoor adventure can wane if it takes an hour to get out the door. So get the drill down to a few minutes by having everything you need at the ready. Set up an outdoor adventure backpack that is filled with all the adventure essentials.
What might those essentials be? Things needed to address the top complaints you may expect on an outdoor trip:
- I’m hungry. Pack snacks.
- I’m thirsty. Always bring lots of water.
- I’m itchy. Bug repellent. Don’t forget the bug repellent. Or the sunscreen.
- I’m cold. An extra UV gaiter, hooded sun shirt or long-sleeve performance shirt goes in the pack.
- I’m hot. Drink some water.
Additional pack items can include things like wipes, binoculars, a trash bag and a few first aid items. No one has ever regretted carrying a couple of Band-Aids on an outdoor adventure.
If you truly want to be the Super Parent of Preparedness, keep a full change of clothes in the car. Both for your kids and yourself. Outdoor adventures can come with lots of mud, or even an unexpected dip in the river.
Create an Adventure Board
Get a bulletin board, call it an adventure board, and use it to document and plan all your outdoor fun. Snap and print pix of you and the kiddos having loads of laughs in the wild, then hang them on the board to remember the excitement.
Come up with new adventures you want to try and find photos to hang for inspiration. Horseback riding. Kayaking. Goat pack hiking down the Grand Canyon.
Let your imagination run wild. Even if an adventure sounds way too far-fetched, you may be able to come up with an accessible alternative. Like trading the goat pack hiking for dog walking and the Grand Canyon for the park.
Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty in the great outdoors. And don’t be afraid to fail. An outdoor adventure rarely goes perfectly, but you’re always destined to learn something new.
At the very least, you’ll learn more about the types of activities you and your kids adore and which you could live without. They’ll also learn the biggest and best lesson of all: there is much more to life than Frogger or Minecraft.