Getting Active Outdoors with Your Kids

As the weather improves across the country, we are dusting off our bikes, pumping our tires full of air and getting outdoors. Everyone is feeling the joy of longer days and warmer temperatures. But the habits of a more sedentary winter may be slow to change. How can you kick start your spring, make the most of these beautiful days and get your kids outside on a daily basis?

  1. Make a habit of it
    Put “getting outdoors” into your calendar and make it part of the routine. If your kids know that every day after school they will be heading to the park, going for a bike ride or enjoying some sort of outdoor adventure as a family, they will be more ready to embrace whatever you may have planned.
  2. Batch cook meals on the weekend
    Prepping meals in advance will free up time during the week to join in on fun activities with your kids after school. It will also allow for more spontaneity, when you are not feeling the need to rush home to put dinner on. Another option in the meal department is to pack a picnic – a mixture of finger food that can easily be toted around in your backpack for a quick and easy meal on the go. Even if you are not planning a meal on the go, it is always important to pack water and it’s a good idea to pack a bunch of snacks. This will allow your adventure to continue as long as everyone is having fun, without the need to cut it short due to thirst or hunger.
  3. Join in the fun
    Although it is not always necessary, my kids are always more willing to get active and stay outdoors longer if my husband or I are involved in the activity. It is a great way to bond as a family, by being active together – take a hike together, learn a new sport (maybe this year you will all take up golf), sign up for a road race or just take a nightly walk with the dog as a family.
  4. Plan ahead
    Create a calendar of activities that you can do together. Get input from your kids on what they enjoy. As we know, life gets busy and before you know it Fall is here and all those amazing outdoor adventures you wanted to experience with your kids, did not happen. If you have a plan in advance, you are more likely to see it through and make sure it happens.
  5. Dress for success
    Get changed as soon as you get home so you are ready to be active with your kids outdoors. If you are not dressed the part, you will not be as likely to join in on a spontaneous game of tag, race around the cul-de-sac on your bikes together or join in on a pick-up game of outdoor basketball. Also, make sure you all have the necessary gear for inclement weather. Nothing ruins a hike quicker than being caught out in the rain without the necessary gear to keep everyone safe and warm.
  6. Let them go!
    Spring and summer, combined with the great outdoors, are the perfect time for your kiddos to gain some independence. This is a great time to set some reasonable, age-appropriate boundaries and just let the kids play outdoors (without you). Maybe this summer is the first time they scooter to the store with a friend, play capture the flag late into the night or simply try out a bike route on their own. Give them the space to experience the outdoors with their peers or siblings while you enjoy a bit of peace and quiet!
  7. Set limits on technology
    Given the option, many of our children will choose to chill out on the couch with the latest game or app, to pass the time. As the weather warms up and our days get longer, perhaps reducing time on the tablet or phone is an option in your family. This limiting of technology will free up more time to be spent outdoors.

Leading by example in the area of physical activity has a huge impact on what our children choose and how they will inevitably engage with the great outdoors. Enjoy these seasons with your kids, make the most of it and get outdoors today! Who knows what stories and memories you will create along the way.

Shannon MacMillan
BOKS Regional Coordinator, Outdoor Enthusiast and Mom to two kids who love to be outdoors!