On my list of least favorite things to do, going outside with my 5 children on a cold, rainy night in December falls somewhere between cleaning oatmeal out of my toddler’s ear and finding the remote control for the television. In all honesty, I would probably rather watch MacGyver. Diffusing bombs with ballpoint pens is way more interesting than chasing kids around in the dark… or so I thought.
November 25 of 2016, we decided to spend 15 more minutes outside per day for a month. You can read why on our original post about the challenge. Fifteen minutes doesn’t seem like a lot, and sounded like a good idea at the time. So we went for it.
All but three days, we went outside in the wind, rain, darkness, and whatever Mother Nature decided to throw at us. Now that we have reached the end of the challenge, I’ll share some very important lessons I learned from our 30 day commitment.
- Going outside can be difficult. Motivation, weather, time, health, etc. all combine against you. Having a goal or a challenge that you commit to will get you past many of those barriers because most of the things that keep a family inside are mental, not physical. Without this challenge, we would have made it outside far less.
- Once outside everyone had fun. The only complaints I heard during our challenge were when we were inside the house putting on boots and outdoor gear. When we made it outside, the kids had fun no matter what. One of the best days of this challenge was on a rainy evening. I had gotten home late and it was already dark. No one wanted to go outside. But we braved the weather and ended up having a spectacular time finding things in the yard that started with letters of the alphabet. And the fifteen minutes turned into an hour of family fun. In every case, the family had fun once we were outside. I’d say that is a win.
- Fifteen minutes of outside time rarely lasted only fifteen minutes. Typically, the fun lasted 30 minutes to an hour. We were having so much fun that time really flew by.
- Outside time turned into family time. People never say “I wish I had spent more time working”. Yet most people lament the time they missed with their families. These days outside with our family are a time everyone will remember and cherish because we sure had a great time!
- Some days we did not have an activity in mind when we went outside and that was OK. In today’s society everything is organized and planned and micromanaged. (Pinterest anyone?) But the great thing about outside play is that it can be unstructured. It is a chance for children and adults to explore, create, and learn how to deal with unorganized time. So let the kids use their imagination and find something to do. (She didn’t actually eat that worm)
In the end, our family benefited in so many ways from outside play time. We spent valuable time together, learned new games and activities, got the benefits of fresh air and exercise, and created memories that we would not have had from watching MacGyver, playing video games, or eating sugar on a stick.
See you outside!