We all know that getting outdoors is good for us, but some days the last thing we want to do is go on another walk. Luckily, our Outdoor Ambassador, Robert Douglas (also known as @this_father_life), has shared 3 of his favourite simple things to do with the kids that have kept their outdoor adventures fresh and fun over the last 12 months.
Learning to love the outdoors has been a long journey for me. I grew up in a big city with plenty of countryside relatively close by. I went on regular scout camps and often disappeared for long days with friends in the woods (making sure I was home for dinner!), but even though I grew up like that, at heart I really felt like a city boy, and still do to some extent.
Eleven years ago, I moved to a small town surrounded by countryside and open space. I have woods, fields, lakes, rivers and hills all within 15 minutes of my front door and since having children I’ve certainly made the most of our surroundings, with still much more to explore.
Nowadays, getting out and about is an essential part of the day for us. It helps de-stress after our learning and work commitments, it injects some fun into what might otherwise be quite monotonous days (given the circumstances), plus it’s always my aim to wear the boys out in the hope of a swift bedtime (never works).
This one is easy because there’s not really much to plan as the kids take control. We simply take the kids out and let them choose which direction we go in and see where it takes us. The only rule is not to change the direction unless the children say so, or if it is clearly unsafe! We’ve also done this as family walks and on our scooters, but it works best on bikes, as we can cover more distance and get home quicker if we need to. As well as helping us explore new places, it teaches the kids leadership, responsibility and gives them a sense of ownership over the day.
We have a huge hill about 10 minutes’ drive from us, which has a clear view for miles from the top. It doesn’t take long to walk up to the top and the views are spectacular. So, in the summer we track what time the sunset is due (just Google it) and head up about 30 minutes beforehand. The boys can run around while we sit chatting, eating and laughing as the sun sets. We stay until it gets dark so if you try this one at a similar site, don’t forget to take a torch or lantern for the walk back – the torch on your phone doesn’t always cut it.
Even though I’ve come to love the outdoors, in all weather, I’ve still struggled with allowing the boys to fully embrace one key trait of life outside… mud. Even though we are kitted out with waterproofs and wellies (Joules, naturally) I’m admittedly over-cautious. So I’ve been making a conscious effort in recent times to embrace the mud. To fully get on board with this one it’s about mindset. When we go on these muddy rambles, I remind myself that if it’s not harmful, clothes can be washed, kids can be bathed and wellies cleaned… plus importantly, it can be a lot of fun!