5 Ways to Get Outside and Reconnect to Nature
This fall Nature Valley promoted National Rediscover Nature Day and had the hashtag:#RediscoverNature all over social media. As part of the promo, the granola bar company made a YouTube video encouraging human beings to get outside. The promotion grabs you when it leads with the question: “When you were a kid what did you do for fun?”
The question was asked to three generations of people, each giving their honest responses. If you are thinking “I don’t have time for a granola commercial to brainwash me into taking a processed sugar bar into the woods” – that’s not what this is about.
At one point a pair of pre-teen BFF’s started talking about how tablets are central to their way of being in life – for 3-4 hours a day. After all the video game and tablet talking prior to that, a piece of you might feel like it died… or at least you cried. Admit it. A granola company probably just shamed you to go for a walk.
There are millions of things for kids to do outside. Irrespective of age, demographic, big-city or small, fiscal outlook for 2016, political affiliation, club or country – there is no excuse to NOT get outside. OK camping isn’t your thing. That’s fine, just go fly a kite or hit the park. With that in mind here are 5 great activities to get you (and your kids) outside.
1. The zoo
You probably don’t read the Daily Dad for an idea to go to the zoo, yet here it is. Why? Frankly, it’s a great place to put the words and pictures on the books you read into practice. It’s also likely that when your children see the real animals they are more likely to want to read more.
If you don’t live in a big city or near a big city, what better reason do you need for a road trip? A point of note here is to go early, go before the crowds show up and if you can go on a Sunday when everyone else is watching football or in church – bonus points. DVR the football game or go to a Saturday church service if you have your rituals, as having the zoo to yourself is #winning!
2. Learn a sport together
This is most certainly not a recommendation to treat toddlers kicking a ball like it’s the FIFA World Cup. Just kicking or throwing balls in the backyard is earning you points here gang. In the event you love (insert sport name here) just remember that it’s more likely your child will like the sport more if there isn’t any pressure to perform.
Exposure to a variety of activities and sports and noting where natural talent and love is will help your child to stay connected to the activity. Most sports can be played indoor/outdoor as well and be year-round relationships – such as soccer, basketball and tennis. Even climbing is indoor/outdoor and has toddler start times.
3. Climb a Mountain, go to the beach, or take a hike
Living in Colorado, it might be easy to go for a hike. Living in West Virginia it might be easy to climb a mountain but difficult to walk the beach. Whatever your geographical location there is always something to explore outside. Do it as a family and sow seeds for your future adventuresome explorer.
Got winter challenges in Canada or Minnesota because they are cold areas? Think “there is no such thing as too cold, but not enough layering.” Instead of looking for reasons to not go outside, think of reasons to NOT stay inside!
4. Plant a garden
Worms and dirt? Kids love getting dirty right? Might as well make it a learning experience and put more of what you are learning in books to real-life. As your children get older you can take more of an educational approach to soil, plant size and planning where and what you plant, versus just playing in the dirt or with worms for toddlers.
It’s a great family activity to watch plants grow, pick weeds together and water the garden. It’s also great to eat the literal fruit of your family labors. If you live in a city, you are probably stuck with an herb garden or just one plant, but the theory is still the same.
5. When in doubt, just hit the playground
Remember when Mom and Dad used to tell you how they walked uphill in the snow both directions into the wind each day to get to school? Yeah that doesn’t happen anymore. Perhaps it should, but as most children don’t walk to school anymore, the easiest and most time tested way to get outside is to hit up the playground. Nuff said…
The reality of just how captivating the television can be is demonstrated in the story below.
In our family unit we pay the $50/month for DirecTV – not sure why as we rarely flip it on. But there was one weekend about 3 months ago when my wife and I caught a stomach bug. Awful Darth Vader style microbes in my body wreaking havoc. Chicken Sausage from (location deleted to protect the innocent) put us both down; but as Selom (our daughter) is still a veg-head, she was running at full speed – as normal.
As a last ditch effort to save our large intestines and minds we flipped on the Cartoon Network. Oh oh. It was a side of our daughter we had never seen before. The once vibrant searching eyes and constantly moving legs stopped. They stopped square in their tracks, went limp and popped down on a chair for an hour. One sweet glorious hour for us – and her.
We both decided in between bathroom runs that it was time to call in reinforcements. That hour of TV, seeing our daughter turn into something else, something we had never seen before was too much – we sent her to a friend’s house to play outside for the rest of the day. Was this hour the beginning of the redhead who watched “23 episodes of a TV show in 4 days?” Probably not, but in my head it could have been the first step of that journey. – Jay
This is our easy reality. We have the ability to put electronics in front of our youth for someone, and something else to impress a values system on them that frankly, couldn’t even be conceived a decade ago. Ever heard of one of those iPad gigs for infants?! Looks eerily like the beginning of life for the adults in “Wall-E” doesn’t it?
It’s funny to talk about this because we can all picture this “Wall-E-type-of-future” as a someday truth. But it’s not funny to think about the repercussions of a society built on the idea that our “best memories” are being formed in an internet chat room, or with video games or via Netflix.
“If you encourage your children to stay connected to Source Energy, they will remain clear-minded; they will remain optimistic; they will remain enthusiastic. They will remain balanced; they will remain flexible. They will remain in a state of grace. They will remain in a state of Well-Being. And they will make wonderful choices.” -Abraham Hicks
You must start by turning off the TV and opening the door. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, but go outside. Thank you Nature Valley and Abraham for reminding us to put down our phones and commit to #ReDiscoverNature.
Photo Credits: Jay Breitlow @ Happy Dads Inc.
Tags: #GetOutside, #parenting, crossfit, dad, dad and daughter, dad blog, dad blogs, gardening, get outside, hiking, hiking with a toddler, Soccer, soccer for toddlers, toddler activities, zoo, zoo activities
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A former pessimistic nuclear engineer turned optimistic and enthusiastic Chiropractor, author, Coach/Consultant, Blogger, wellness speaker and a very happily married husband and a very Happy Dad of 1.5 Children. “My passion is to help people find the authentic greatness that is already inside them – just waiting to be unleashed.”
Dr Jay can be found at his blog HappyDadsInc.