Get Outdoors! Guest Post

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

My wee Scottish granny has a saying: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. However, if you face a regular battle with the kids on the weekends to get them outside and off the screens for a few hours, then you probably notice it getting even more tricky to coax them outside when it’s cold!

The benefits of getting outdoors, even in overcast weather, are huge. According to this report by the Huffington Post. It can calm you down, cheer you up and help you keep healthy if you’re running around at the same time.

Here are 7 tips to get the kids, and you, outdoors and enjoying those short days just as much as you would in the summer!

1) Lead by Example
This one is so important. If you aren’t willing to pull on the wellies and join in, even just for 15 minutes to get them started, then it will be difficult to motivate your kids to do the same!

Don’t get me wrong, I know that the prospect of rushing home after work to cook, clean and somehow still kick a ball around the garden (whilst showing willing!) probably doesn’t appeal when it’s frankly baltic outside. That said, the kids will value the time so much more if you can share it with them. If possible, set aside a weekend day when you can all get out together, and stick with it, no matter the weather.

The more it rains, the more the next point is important!

2) Make sure You’re Prepared
We don’t want to suggest anything prohibitively expensive, but make sure your family members have a raincoat and wellies for when the UK winter leaves a little to be desired. You will find it a lot harder to coax the kids, and yourself, out for a walk on a blustery day without a warm coat and scarf.

We could never encourage bribery, but you might even find that they are more open to going outside if they have picked out their winter-wear themselves!

3) Walk on the Wild Side

Now that we’ve covered those first two, important points, it’s time to get some exciting ideas on the go. Unless your kids love the outdoors already, you will, most likely, come up against some opposition if you suggest going outside just for the sake of it. Just like anybody else would, kids like to know the purpose for having to do something, so the more adventurous ideas you have, the better!

Start your outdoor escapades by researching local bugs, beasties and wildlife in your area or garden. You could do this online, at the library or even just by looking up programmes like Autumnwatch.

Help the kids set up a list of bugs and creatures they’d expect to see on a walk. Next, go out and hunt for them! We used to draw pictures of bugs on the bug hunt, but now it might be more interesting to snap a pic on a phone or camera.

This can work whether you’re in the city or the countryside. You might not think that hunting pigeons is a fun pastime, but hey, if it gets you out the house and running around, then it’s working! For something more exotic, research animal parks or farms open to visitors where you can be guaranteed to meet some fascinating friends.

4) Get Green-Fingered

If you have a garden or patio area, then experiment with planting some winter blooms. If you don’t already have an established garden or set of pots, then this might require a little flower-shopping to get you started.

If you don’t have a garden, or the funds to get started, then ask around and see if any green-fingered friends would be up for giving you a little garden tour. In urban areas, there are more and more community gardens popping up. Go along and find out what events they are running in the winter months.

You’ll never know if the kids are secretly green-fingered until you let them loose with a trowel for a few hours. With this in mind, watch them especially carefully if you are in someone else’s garden. My sister once ‘deadheaded’ (chopped up) my grandpa’s roses and he wasn’t best pleased … at least we were outside!

5) Build Your Own Fun

If you can get to the woods or the beach, then try out building a den. It isn’t as tricky as it sounds, we promise! Just find some sturdy, long sticks and start stacking them together.

It’s a good idea to bring gloves for this. We used to spend hours on the beach making a teepee-style den out of driftwood. If that could withstand the wind off the North Sea, then we’re sure that you could build something admirably stable, too!

6) Think Beyond the Garden

Be a tourist in your area, and get the kids involved in the research. Take a little time to look at local parks, woodlands and reserves and plan out your day. My siblings and I always used to complain about going on walks as kids, but if we were encouraged to take bikes, take our granny’s dogs or even just take some kind of a game to do on the way, then it suddenly seemed a lot more fun!

Keep on exploring your local area, and you’ll find your perfect winter wonderland.

7) Make it a Game

At the end of the day, the big goal is to get outside. If your kids are not naturally enthusiastic about this, then it is time to bring the fun. Whether you go for some of the suggestions above, or have another idea up your sleeve, it’s all in the presentation.

A walk isn’t just a walk if you’re on a quest to find the best blackcurrants to make pudding. Getting outdoors is much more interesting if you’re going to pick pumpkins or play hide and seek with the family.

Get together with other families so you have enough bodies for hide and seek, football, or tag. Try being inspired by the holidays. Halloween can be spent outdoors trick or treating, and Bonfire night with warm coats and fireworks. Be enthusiastic and creative, and make sure you enjoy all those benefits of getting out and about as much as the kids do.

Good luck, and have a beautiful festive season when it comes!

Bio: Sara works for Stewart Timber, a Scottish timber and firewood company passionate about spending quality time in the great outdoors.

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