September tends to be one of the busiest months for families. Between back-to-school chaos and busy work and activity schedules, it can be difficult to find time to enjoy nature. However, countless studies have shown the benefits of spending time in nature for the whole family, from stress relief to tighter parent-child bonds (check out this article to learn more about the benefits of getting outside). So how can you prioritize outdoor adventures when time seems scarce?
The answer may require a change in mindset. The term “outdoor adventure” does not have to mean camping trips or epic hikes. While those activities are awesome, they are not always feasible. Enjoying the nature you find right outside your door can be just as rejuvenating! Check out these 10 ways you can squeeze some nature time into your family’s busy schedule.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Campbell
Ways to Squeeze Nature into your Busy Schedule
- Take a Walk After Dinner: Whether you head out for a quick walk around the block or drive to a local nature trail, post-dinner walks not only allow for quality family time in nature. They also aid in digestion and promote better sleep.
- Set up an Outdoor “Work Station”: Create an outdoor area where kiddos can work on homework, read, do arts and crafts, or just play outside. You can grab your computer, paperwork, or a book and join them while enjoying some fresh air.
- Have a Picnic Dinner: This can be as simple as bringing dinner out to your yard or packing it up to enjoy at a local park. Not in the mood for cooking? Grab some food on the way! Growing up, my family had a “pizza at the playground” tradition a few times a month, which was always a hit!
- Become Weekend Warriors: Anxious to hit the trail or visit a state park for a longer adventure? Plan longer weekend outdoor adventures together as a family to give everyone something to look forward to throughout the week.
- Walk the “Scenic Route”: If you have kiddos in school, try taking the long way to/from the school or bus stop. If the area allows, you could even park a few blocks away when picking up the kiddos to allow some outdoor time while also avoiding the crazy school pick-up lines.
- Include Nature Time When Running Errands: Since you are already out-and-about, you can work in a trip to a playground, short trail, or nature space in between or after running errands. Even just letting the kiddos run around a field near the grocery store can help work off some of their energy before entering the stores (and possibly cut down on the meltdowns as a side benefit!).
- Park Far Out in any Parking Lot: Even these few extra minutes of fresh air can make a difference! To cut down on the whining that may ensue (from significant others along with the children), try playing a quick game of “I-spy” or “spot the rainbow” on the walk into your destination. The goal is to find something of every color of the rainbow before you get to the store. My kiddos will often beg to walk around a bit more just to find any colors they are missing.
- Decompress Outside After a Long Day: Whether it’s when the kids get home from school, a guardian gets home from work, or you just ran a marathon of errands, spend a few minutes relaxing and talking about your day in your backyard, front stoop, or your balcony.
- Take the Long Way to the Mailbox: Regardless of if your mailbox is down the street or attached to your house, you can take the long way by going out your back door or walking around the block. I sometimes have my kids count how many bugs they find or neighbors we pass along the way to extend our time outside.
- Weekend Nighttime Adventures: Grab the flashlights and glowsticks for some after-dark fun or set up the tent for a backyard campout at the end of a busy week.
Looking for more ways to get your family outdoors to explore and enjoy nature? Check out this article with 30 easy, free ways to get your family outside this month.
How do you squeeze nature into your family’s busy schedule? Let us know in the comments below or share your experience and tag @hikeitbaby on your favorite social media platform!
ABOUT HIKE IT BABY
Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. With more than 300 communities across North America, they firmly believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors, and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. To learn more, visit HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. To support their mission and further their programming aimed at supporting families, donate here.