8 Simple Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Love the Outdoors
While it’s already summertime in the US, here on our side of the world (EST + 12 hours), we are starting to prepare for the rainy season.
Just a short background, our little spot of the world here in the Philippines basically has two seasons: the wet and dry. Wet season happens around June to October and for the rest of the year – well, let’s just say it’s mostly summer-y here, typical of tropical countries.
The coming months will become such a hassle especially since our country is right in the path of typhoons (we go through the alphabet for our typhoon names and often they all get used up for the entire year) but it’s still a welcome change from the extremely hot months we have been experiencing. It may have taken a few weeks before we finally got a taste of rain because of the El Niño phenomenon.
Despite all the wacky weather we have definitely been experiencing all throughout the year all thanks to climate change, we try, as much as we can, to get out of the house and spend time with nature (preferably up mountains or on beaches where it’s cooler). Activities like these also help our little toddler go through screen-free day(s). Hooray!
Now, unlike typical families here in our country, we try to stay away from the usual family vacation spots and choose to go a more adventurous route instead. Many people – parents! – think this is such a huge task and it is, but it’s definitely doable.
Below are some tips we would like to share with you to help encourage your child to love the outdoors.
Start them young.
The first time we ever camped with our daughter was in a secluded island with no electricity or even freshwater. We went there with my college friends and, to be honest, that night was among the scariest and longest in my life as a mom! Our daughter cried for some time but thankfully, we were able to sleep in a more comfortable bed (there were a few rooms in the island) instead of in a tent. I guess I could say, we made the right choice on that one.
Read books on nature.
Check out movies highlighting nature (minimally, of course!)
I know we aim for screen-free activities but, hey, aren’t kids more focused when they see pictures that move and talk? We are a big Dr. Seuss fans so we love the classic Lorax and Horton Hears a Who short movies (about twenty minutes so you don’t go over your screen time limit). Of course, older kids might love to watch the newer and lengthier versions of The Lorax* and Horton Hears A Who*.
Let them explore your backyard.
I know this will not apply to everyone (we will soon be transferring to our own town house which means NO BACKYARD!) but you can definitely find a way around this by doing the next one.
Go for short hikes.
Parks, gardens, plazas – you name it. Unfortunately, our parks here in the Philippines have mostly been placed in with concrete (sob) but there are still a few pockets of soil around that we could play in. Then again, even urban hikes can be interesting – just don’t forget to actually let them stop by trees and plants and flowers so they don’t forget these, too.
Tell a story about the things you see.
When our daughter starts to get irritable during our mountain hikes (they usually last 5 to 6 hours, at a minimum), we start to talk to her about the things we see around us – mountains, flowers, trees, birds, ants. When paired with an animated voice, things often become more interesting to them and they forget the tears that have almost rolled out of their eyes.
Do it regularly.
They say it takes 21 days for one to build a habit. You don’t necessarily have to go on a hike with your kids for 21 days in a row (we could definitely get you on the bill-paying and day-job-keeping arguments). However, being able to add it into your activities (once a week, once in two weeks, even once a month!) could do a lot of wonders.
What better way to get your kid excited for your next trip than by showing them awesome pictures from your recent trip? We love asking our daughter what she did there, the things she ate or saw or heard – and seeing her eyes light up just gives that awesome parent feels.
How else do you encourage your child to love the outdoors? Do share!
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About the Author
Pam is an outdoors-loving millennial momma who loves to hike, trek and camp in the beaches and mountains with her partner and their 3-year-old daughter. When not exploring the great outdoors, she moonlights as a freelance writer specializing in the travel, parenting, personal finance and digital marketing niches. You can also follow her via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!