Getting them out the door

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If I were to list the top 5 reasons I try to get my boys outside, they would be:

  1. Parenting is easier outdoors.  
  2. I feel happier and more easy-going when I spend time outside everyday. 
  3. Fresh air and exercise are good for growing bodies and help the boys sleep and eat well.
  4. So much learning happens based on the things we encounter in our yard, in our neighborhood, or out in nature.
  5. I want to raise children who enjoy being outdoors.

But, just because I know a thing is good for everyone doesn’t mean that I make it happen.  There are many factors that would deter spending time outside, like I don’t like the cold, my children have an embarrassing yen for eating sand and dirt, sometimes it is difficult to shepherd 2 mobile toddler-aged children on a walk. Nevertheless, I have a huge interest in increasing my family’s time outdoors, so one of my goals is to spend 15 minutes outside every day this year.

Before you think it is a clever idea, let me acknowledge, that I took it straight from Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids which I read last year. And before you think that 15 minutes is a terrible idea because it is too short, let me assure you that the beauty of a goal like this one is that it is small enough that it seems manageable, but once you get that 15 minutes started, you will often find yourself outside for an hour or more.

So, how am I doing with my goal?  Well, it is the coldest part of the year, but I’ve had many successful days.  We’ve been out in the snow, the rain, and the cold, cold wind.  Sometimes we’ve counted down the minutes until we can go in and other times we’ve enjoyed wonderful neighborhood walks that lasted for an hour or more.  We’ve shoveled snow together and eaten snow together and built several mini-snowmen.

Just identifying such a concrete, measurable goal has been the most important change to our amount of time spent outside because now I know what I’m trying to achieve.  But another practical effort has really made a difference.  Before starting my year-long project, I assembled a bin of all of our outdoor gear.  All of the parents’ and kids’ boots, gloves, hats, mittens, scarves, and snowpants, now reside in this bin by the back door.  Instead of hunting around in my room and digging around in the boys’ drawers when it snows or is extra cold, I can dive into this bin and we are ready, lickety split.

What have you found to make getting outdoors easier?

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