Your little ones beg to play games on your phone or watch their favorite show. You want them to ask to go outside and dig in the dirt. Trust me; you aren’t the only parent that wants that. But how do you get your kids to crave nature as much as they want screen time? Keep scrolling for ideas that will get them outside and enjoying the great outdoors.
Make the Outdoors Magical
Nature does an excellent job of this all on its own, but it doesn’t hurt to emphasize the magic even more. Sometimes, a sense of wonder tied to nature comes with a few skinned knees and a whole lot of dirt. That’s OK! I get it. I cringe at super dirty activities just as much as the next mom, but the dirty days are usually the best. I’ll never forget the first time I told my oldest daughter she could wade into a local creek. She looked like it was Christmas morning. And my son’s face when I tell him he can dig for worms is one of the best smiles I’ve ever seen. I’ll admit, his dimples are pretty epic. The best part, you won’t have to buy craft supplies or surf Pinterest to show them the magic. They’ll discover it all by themselves.
Model the Behavior
If you are always on the couch watching the latest movie release or glued to a funny Youtube video, your kids will want to do what you are doing. Get excited about getting out into nature, and your kiddos will get excited too. At least three days a week, my kids will ask to go hiking or fishing. Sometimes it is the last thing they ask before bed or their first question when they wake up. That desire didn’t happen overnight. I make an effort to take them outside every single day, rain, or shine. I’ve always preferred a good movie night to an evening chasing fireflies, but I don’t want that for my children. Active children are happier and healthier.
Keep the Outdoors as Comfortable as the Couch
What? I know this sounds strange, but who likes to be uncomfortable? I sure don’t. Let me explain. If you are going to brave a local hiking trail, make sure your kids have comfortable shoes that won’t rub their feet raw or squeeze their toes. If the trail has a creek or stream, don’t dress them in clothes you don’t want them to get wet. That’s torture for everyone. When that snow day is calling, try not to over bundle your kids so they can run, jump and sled for hours. Use bug spray, sunscreen and protective clothing, and you’ll all enjoy your time outside a lot more.
Mom tip: Don’t forget to pack the same comforts for yourself. That way, you’ll all look forward to your time in nature.
Set Your Priorities
If your goal is nature-loving kids, make time outside a priority every day (or as many days as possible). Recently, I read a great book called “There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather.” It is the story of a Scandinavian mom’s experience with her culture’s almost religious approach to the outdoors and a connection with nature. It is a bit over the top in some ways, but in most ways, the book made a lot of sense. Kids need to be outside. Kids need to enjoy nature, and kids need to be allowed to be in nature without their parents hovering over their every move. I mainly took away the need to prioritize a love for nature that will grow my kids’ confidence and help them grow into a happier and healthier adult life.