Being raised to love and appreciate the outdoors was just the BEST!!! Spending time outside with my family is second nature to me, but not everyone grew up camping in the mountains of Alaska or taking family trips to the most remote places like I did, so I totally get that it’s not always easy to know where to start when it comes to raising little outdoor enthusiasts.
Tim and I moved to North Carolina a few years ago and a major reason we chose this specific location is because the weather is BEAUTIFUL and we can spend most of the year outdoors in a comfortable climate. I mean, it definitely gets really hot and humid in the summer (see my mom bun tutorial for hair that even Southern humidity can’t touch!) but it’s pretty pleasant overall. We spend as much time outside with Leni as we can and I know a lot of parents want to know our “tricks of the trade” for making sure the next generation LOVES the outdoors as much as us, so here it goes…
Make it Comfy
Like I mentioned, we live in North Carolina and HOLY SMOKES does it get hot in July and August! It can also get pretty chilly too (not “Canada” chilly… but “wear a jacket” chilly!), so we always make sure Leni is dressed appropriately for the weather. This might sound like a no-brainer, but lots of people don’t like to be outdoors because they can’t stand the heat/cold/wet/etc. With the exception of a sick baby, we try to take Leni outside to get used to all different kinds of weather. Homegirl might have been born in the mild South, but she’s still a tough little Canadian when it comes to bearing the elements, ha! I grew up in British Columbia, which could possibly be the wettest climate that exists on Earth and I never remember the rain stopping us from playing outside when I was young. Pouring rain? Put on your rain boots and jump in the puddles! Hot and sunny? Find a shady forest or park, throw on a sun hat and sunscreen and you’re out the door. With the right gear and the right attitude, anytime spent outdoors becomes an adventure with a little: just make sure you’ve got water, lots of snacks, and bug spray for most seasons, and you’re good to go!
Make it Fun
Leni literally has SO many toys–I have no idea where they keep coming from honestly! They’re in every room of the house, so naturally being inside is a fun place for her. My goal is to make being OUTSIDE even more appealing, and I plan on doing this by always having something to divert her attention. Toddlers spend a LOT of time exploring, so putting them outdoors to enjoy things (safely and within reason, of course!) is a good idea in my book. There’s so much to see when you’re little and wandering around outside has endless possibilities! Collect sticks and leaves to make art. Bring paint outside and paint rocks you find! Count the clouds/trees/birds. Feed ducks. Make a fort. Play tag. Pack a picnic with your child’s favorite food and bring it on a walk and eat it outdoors! Whenever we’re outdoors, I tune out my phone calls and emails and just focus on having fun with Leni — the key is to make being outside just as fun (or hopefully more) as whatever they want to do inside. If they haven’t already, eventually they’ll associate outdoors with FUN and want to be out there all the time!
Lots. Of. Snacks.
If this list was in order, this would be #1. Don’t be THAT PARENT who runs out of snacks. No one likes that parent. Enough said.
Limit the Screen Time
Before I had a baby, I was the person who swore “I’d never give my child an iPad”… fast forward a couple years and Leni has her own tablet stocked full of more Elmo and Elsa than I thought possible. I am definitely guilty of this one too because it is a LOT easier to turn on Sesame Street than get geared up to go out and play in the rain but I try my best to limit the screen time and do the latter as much as I can. There are days when you just need to cuddle on the couch and watch Moana for the 30th time (been there, and I love those days), but getting outside and turning off the electronics is never a bad idea. When I grew up, we weren’t allowed to watch any TV during the week and only a tiny bit on the weekends and I’m sure this had a lot to do with why I was covered in mud for most of my childhood!
Make Sure They See YOU Having Fun!
We realized that Leni is literally watching every. single. thing. we do! It’s really cute because she’s a TOTAL COPYCAT, but also kind of intimidating to know that she’s picking up on our moods and likes/dislikes as well already. I often have to check myself and make sure what I’m doing and saying is what I want her seeing. If you make going outside seem like a chore, (even if you’re going to do chores!) they will pick up on that. Don’t worry about getting dirty – that’s half the fun of being outside! Being cheerful about the outdoors, even if you’d rather be inside sometimes, might make all the difference in the attitude kids have about being out there themselves. Besides, we could probably all benefit from being a little more cheerful!
These are just some of my quick ideas about raising a kiddo to love the outdoors. Leni just woke up from her nap and it’s GORGEOUS outside so I’m taking a page out of my own book and we’re going outside for an adventure!
What works for your family? Anything you do to encourage your kids to be outside?? Comment below because the more ideas the better!