Maybe it’s this new life that’s developing and soon to be joining our family, or the fact that my little guy just turned three and will be starting preschool in just a couple of weeks, but lately I find myself reflecting on the choices we make on a daily basis. Questions that come to mind:
- Why do I feel the need to get outside so much?
- What’s calling us outside?
- What are we getting out of focusing our free time to be all about the outdoors?
- Why do we travel so often?
After just a little bit of thought, I came to a quick conclusion that I’m a little bit selfish. Many of the reasons and maybe the outcomes of getting outdoors with my son have to do with me, and he gets all the great benefits and rewards along the way.
It just makes sense, right? From a very young age, we’re talking little crawling baby, my husband and I realized that the more active our little guy was able to be, the easier it was for him to first fall asleep, and then, stay asleep. In the beginning that always meant more sleep for us, and now that Bergen is older it means more of a break or chance for us to get things accomplished since nap time is still a huge part of our routine.
Of course, it’s easier to wear a kid out in the outdoors than chasing them around the house, so out we go on a mission to get that kid moving whether on a hiking trail, adventuring in the water, or exploring on his balance bike.
2. Cleaner House.
Getting outside means less time for cleaning, but really, if we’re not around to mess it up with toy collections strewn about and crayon marks scribbled all over the walls, the house stays a whole lot more tidy.
Thanks to magnificent summer weather, I’ve also been jumping on board the picnic wagon. This means more outdoor time, and little to no clean-up when we return because the mess happened outside.
3. Outdoor play is a lot more fun.
I don’t really want to play with cars, trains, and blocks. I will and I do, but it’s just not my favorite thing to do. Plus, I’m always distracted by all the other chores and tasks that I could be attending to rather than being present and genuinely interacting with the all the activity happening on the floor.
I do however enjoy taking in the view and doing a little exploring of my own, while my son throws rock after rock into the water, collects treasures, sorts those treasures into categories, and stomps around the forest on his own.
He’s happier outside, more focused, and able to be himself, so it gives us all a chance to just breathe. The nagging, constant rule reminders, and limits can take a break, usually.
Also, when it comes to those times when we really do need to be home, his independent play is so much more intentional. Toys for indoor independent play stay fresh and new even though they’ve always been around.
4. The Planning & Organizing.
For me, planning a hike, weekend adventure, or week long vacation with an outdoor emphasis is much more satisfying, exciting, and enjoyable than figuring out and prepping for an art project or “learning” activity–and I’m a teacher by trade! Visits to farms, parks, other neighborhoods, gardens, even playgrounds…the possibilities within them just seem so much more open, adaptable, and less definitive.
Yes, you have to pack, and have certain items in order to have a successful trip outside of the house, but it’s not a supply list and a bunch of step-by-step instructions. And especially when the adventure is close, it’s just a matter of heading out the door.
5. Outdoor time = Exercise for me.
Yes, one of the goals is to wear our 3-year old out, but he’s not the only one reaping the cardiovascular benefits! Those hikes we go on? Those certainly count as exercise, and we even throw in a splash of strength training in when we strap him into one of our backpack carriers when he’s had enough.
We also get a workout via walking several miles to a local park (pushing the stroller), family bike rides (and chasing after him on his balance bike), and adventures on the water, which are all part of our weekly routine. Along the way, and at our destination, Bergen soaks in all that outdoor goodness, and then gets to run around and explore.
Are you selfish when it comes to your outdoor time? What’s in it for you?
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