The calendar might tell us there is still a bit of summer left to hold on to, but reality suggests otherwise. Like many families, we’ve returned to school and schedules and homework and real life and everything that feels so unsummer.
With both of The Explorers in school, it’s tough to get in as much time outside as I’d like. How do we continue to connect with nature now that school’s back in session? We find small ways to squeeze outdoor time into our daily routine. After a few years of practice we have some ideas worth sharing. The result? Your back-to-school guide to getting outside.
Schedule time to get outside.
You schedule everything else in your kids’ lives; getting outside shouldn’t be any different. Got a daily or weekly to-do list? Make sure spending time outside is on it.
Match screen time with outdoor time.
If back to school means more time on screens in your family – be they televisions, computers, phones, video games or other – start a new habit. For every minute you spend on a screen, spend a minute outside.
Walk to school.
When you walk to school, you’re spending time outside without even thinking about it! And even in our very urban neighborhood, there are opportunities for connecting with nature around every corner – whether it’s talking to the birds, spotting snails or smelling the flowers.
Allow for free play before or after sports activities.
The Explorers’ sports practices take place at our local park. I try to build in time for free play either before or after. If you don’t have time during the week, try a weekend trip to your local playground instead.
Move play dates outside.
Encourage outside time as part of your children’s play dates this fall. Younger kids might enjoy time at a park; older ones like riding bikes and scooters, or even creating their own outdoor games.
Have a meal outdoors.
Think beyond the traditional picnic dinner. You can have an after-school snack on the porch or warm up a dessert in a backyard campfire.
Explore nature at night.
It won’t be long before the days get shorter, leaving more time to explore nature at night after dinner and before bed time. It can be as simple as gazing at stars, watching the sun set or going for a flashlight walk.
Take a local field trip in nature once a month.
Your hometown is undoubtedly full of natural spaces just waiting to be discovered. Pick a few you’d like to see this fall and go.
Create a fall outdoor fun list.
Help your kids ease into the change in seasons by giving them something to look forward to. Create your own fall outdoor fun list by talking about things you want to do outside this fall at home and in your community. Then write those ideas down and make them happen.
Need more ways to sneak in some simple outdoor fun? Check out my ideas for backyard nature fun.