Are you wondering how to get kids outside more so they can learn to play in and love nature? Find our top tips for moving playtime outdoors.
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If you’ve been following along for a while, you know how much we value time in nature. I take my kids outside everyday, whether we’re going on a morning walk, taking a trip to the park, or uncovering new trails.
Being outside isn’t just good for my kids, but for me. We all reap the benefits of vitamin D exposure, fresh air, and physical exercise. Plus, it’s just nicer to to change up your scenery and get away from the same four walls of our apartment.
I literally feel like a better mom when I’m outside exploring with my kids.
Most of the questions I get on social media are about how to get kids outside consistently and more frequently. What motivates me, what to do when the weather is bad, and do I really take my kids outside everyday. Yes, every. single. day.
Here are my top tips for how to get kids outside:
How to Get Kids Outside: 12 Tips to Raise Children Who Love Nature
Make it a Habit
Whenever I’m asked about why or how to get kids outside daily, my go to response is always this: make it a habit and you’ll start to crave it.
Instead of setting a goal to go outside more, set a quantifiable goal of getting outside five days a week for a morning walk. Making it specific will give you more accountability. The more you do it, the more you’ll crave it, and the more benefits you’ll receive.
Your kids will start to crave it too: my little guy grabs his shoes every morning and brings them over screaming “walk, walk!”
Set Screen Timers
If you’re wondering how to get kids outside and off their devices, start setting an internal timer so the device shuts off on its own.
Technology is addicting, and it can often pass the hours without awareness. An internal timer manages this so you don’t have to. You also don’t have to be “the bad guy” and take them away when the devices do it themselves!
Then, when kids are seeking something else to do or play, they’ll be more inclined to head outdoors.
Set Up Outdoor Toys and Games
Whenever I’m asked how to get kids outside more, I always respond by asking what toys and games you own, and how many of them allow for outdoor play.
Items like a water table, sand box, or even bubbles can motivate children to be outdoors more. Not to mention outside activities like planting flowers and going on a nature scavenger hunt. It doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming, just accessible.
Embrace Dirt, Mud, Rain, and Snow
The only time we don’t go outside to play is when it’s dangerous. Notice I didn’t say uncomfortable. I won’t take my children out during one of our infamous Texas hail storms, but light rain doesn’t deter us.
Reframe bad weather as an opportunity to experience something different. Instead of saying we can’t go out because it’s raining, invite your kids to splash in puddles.
Own Appropriate Clothing
It’s a lot easier to embrace less than ideal weather when you have the right clothing. Every kid should own, at the bare minimum, a rain coat and rain boots. Then, based on your region, you can fill in as needed.
Despite living in the sunbelt, we own winter coats and warm shoes. The Dallas area can experience winter days in the high 30s/low 40s; having winter coats eliminates the need for an excuse.
Consider shopping second-hand if you want to boost your weather wardrobe without spending a lot of money.
Schedule Playdates Outside
An easy way to get more outdoors and nature play scheduled, is to schedule it with a friend. Instead of meeting at a fast food playground, indoor play spot, or library (though you know I love my library), meet at a park.
Consider even a trail walk or hike with a friend, a trip to the lake or beach, or even an open field with some sports equipment. Making your playdate outside is almost like having an accountability partner.
Find Outdoor Mom Friends
Along the same lines, start making mom friends who are into nature play.
Head to your local playground right after school, start walking on local trails, and try asking around in local social media and hiking groups. Finding like minded moms helps make it easier to get together outdoors.
Even these new mom’s groups provide a point of contact to find link minded mom friends.
Keep Oldies New
If you’re the type of person (or family) that knows what type of outdoor play you like, but gets bored, consider shaking it up.
We love hiking, but the same old scenery gets old. That’s why we constantly seek out new hiking trails, walks, and lakes to explore. We do the same for playgrounds; there’s always an abundance of play places, so why not keep it diverse.
Walk to Your Destination
One of my top tips for getting outside more is to walk to more places.
You don’t need to live in a metro area, like New York City, to be able to walk places. Can you safely walk to a grocery store, library, or even to get coffee? This helps change up the walks and combat that sense of rushing we so often feel with kids and other responsibilities.
Find Outdoor Activities That Meet Your Child’s Interests
When you sit down to plan your weekends, do you think specifically about how to get kids outside exploring? Or do you gravitate more towards museums, indoor play spots, or running all of those dreaded errands?
One of my top tips is to plan your weekends around your child’s interests, but see where you can move those interests outdoors. We love heading to the zoo, playground, or children’s garden. You can think outside the box, too, though. My older son loves dinosaurs, so we always seek out dinosaur experiences that are outdoors to keep him motivated.
Related: 5 Incredible Dinosaur Museums in NYC
Slow Down and Leave Extra Time
Moms, I know you always feel like you’re rushing from place to place. Juggling everything on our plates doesn’t leave much time for extra.
But one of my favorite ways to build in a little bit of nature time is to leave an extra five or ten minutes when we’re out and about. Simply stopping to look at the surroundings or let the kids dilly dally while they collect leaves can start to make nature more accessible.
Take Family Vacations That Focus on Outdoor Adventures
Most of our travels focus on spending time outside hiking, playing at the beach, or exploring state and national parks. Spending time in nature is a great way to experience diverse landscapes and new places.
Some of our favorite family vacation excursions have been hiking in the Texas Hill Country, road tripping through the Blue Ridge Mountains, and visiting all the East Coast beaches our hearts desire.
Do you have more tips for getting kids outside? How do you raise children who love nature?
You don’t have to be a backpack trekking, camping loving family to enjoy nature. Your backyard, local playgrounds, and accessible nature trails are more than enough to start getting kids outside and into nature.