Summer is in full swing and it’s time to start checking some activities off of your family’s “summer bucket list.” Why not use the warmer weather as an excuse for some much-needed time outside? Summer picnics are a fantastic way to spend an afternoon, enjoying nature and having an outdoor meal with your family.
The Importance of Spending Time in Nature
Now, more than ever, kids are spending significantly more time inside than outside. This can be attributed mostly to technology; in 2015, it was reported that the average screen time for children 8-12 years of age was 4 hours and 36 minutes per day. And a recent UK study reported that kids are spending only half the time playing outside that their parents did.
Spending time outdoors is not only beneficial but necessary, for children and adults alike; it has been said that spending time in nature can improve both cognitive functioning and mood. In fact, recent studies suggest that kids who play outdoors are smarter, happier, and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors.
Summer picnics are a great way to get your family outdoors and enjoying nature this summer. Choose different outdoor environments for your summer picnics, such as the park, a hiking trail, or a lake to encourage your children to explore and interact with different forms of nature. Have them take responsibility by teaching your children the importance of cleaning up after themselves and respecting the environment. And teach them about the earth and the various forms of life that it supports.
Read More: 40 Summer Salads The Whole Family Will Love
10 Tips to Help Ensure Your Summer Picnics Are A Success
Planning ahead is one of the most important (and often overlooked) steps for successful summer picnics. Take some time to pick your location, making sure you choose a spot that’s comfortable and easily accessible; try to pick a location that doesn’t require carrying your picnic supplies too far. Also, try to choose a location that offers some shade if you happen to be picnicking on a hot day. Speaking of the temperature, make sure to check the weather forecast before heading out – there’s nothing worse than a picnic being spoiled by unexpected rain!
Prepare At Home
Preparing your food beforehand allows you to truly focus on socializing and having fun during your picnic. Also, if your food is prepared at home, you don’t have to take as many supplies with you to the picnic site (which means less chance of forgetting things. Cheesegrater, anyone?)
Keep It Simple
Summer picnics call for simple finger foods that are easy to transport. Think sandwiches, paninis, wraps, cheese, crackers, hummus, veggies, and fresh fruit. Preparing personal-sized mason jar salads are a great alternative to bringing a bowl of salad to be shared. As for desserts, plan for individually-served, bite-sized treats such as mini brownies, cookies, and squares.
Read More: How to unplug for the whole summer
Make It A Potluck
If you’re planning your summer picnic with a group of friends, make it a potluck and have everyone contribute something to the meal. Just make sure to plan your meal and coordinate the food(s) everyone is responsible for beforehand so that you don’t end up with several desserts and no main course!
Use Sustainable, Disposable Dishware
Sustainable, disposable dishware is better for the environment than using plastic, and it’s a whole lot easier than lugging your heavy kitchen dishware from home. Amazon has some great wood, palm leaf, and recycled material options.
Use Bottled Drinks
Try bringing your water and other beverages in glass bottles. This eliminates the need for individual glasses (less for you to pack!) Plus, if you freeze them beforehand, glass bottles double as ice packs to help keep food cool on the day of the picnic. Just don’t forget your bottle opener!
Pack Condiments Separately
This seems obvious, but packing condiments separately is something that many don’t consider when preparing for their summer picnics. It doesn’t take much extra work, and it keeps sandwiches from getting soggy before you’re ready to eat. You can try packing your condiments in small reusable containers or collect disposable packages from restaurants to bring on your summer picnics.
This may seem like a no-brainer for most parents out there, but bringing some activities and things to do can really make or break your summer picnics, particularly when kids are involved. Toys like butterfly nets, bug boxes, magnifying glasses, and shovels encourage outdoor exploration. Or send the kids off with a kite or a beachball while the adults relax and enjoy some time to socialize.
Bring Several Blankets
Many people like to set up their summer picnics on a big blanket. On your next picnic, try taking several blankets instead of just one. This allows some picnickers to enjoy the shade while others may prefer the sun. Having extra blankets on hand can also be convenient for keeping warm if it turns out to be a cool day, or for creating some shade if it’s otherwise too hot.
Pack Picnic Essentials
Make sure you have all of the essentials when planning your summer picnics. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your picnic location and realizing you forgot something! Here is a list of things that might come in handy when you’re preparing for your summer picnics this season:
- Picnic basket
- Bug spray
- First-aid supplies
- Plates, napkins, cutlery
- Knife and cutting board
- Tent or umbrella
- 2 garbage bags (one for trash and one for recycling)
Now, more than ever, kids are spending significantly more time inside than outside. Given the benefits of spending time in nature, it’s important to teach our children the importance of being outdoors. Summer picnics are a fantastic way to spend an afternoon, enjoying nature and having an outdoor meal with your family. Following these 10 tips will help to ensure that your summer picnics are a success!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Photo Credits: Unsplash.com