By Leah McDermott, M.Ed
You know that it’s important to get your kids outside. You love to plan awesome family adventures. You have a beautiful vision in your head of being that awesome hippie mama living out of a decked out camper van with your family traveling around the country visiting national parks, foraging for mushrooms, and drinking from freshwater streams.
Except for one problem…you actually hate nature.
You weren’t the kid that liked playing outside and getting dirty. You would much rather cozy up with a good book or some ice cream and Netflix than go hiking or kayaking. And camping? Please…maybe glamping.
It can be really tough when you genuinely WANT to be that mum that goes on nature walks and investigates bugs and bird watches and so forth, but it just hasn’t been a part of your life in the past or you have a general fear or dislike of nature.
Don’t despair though. You can absolutely change your perspectives, explore some new opportunities, and learn to love the outdoors for and with your children!
The first step is to begin to reshape your ideas of what being outdoors is like. When you envision going outside, you don’t have to immediately think about dirt, bugs, heat, rain, or whatever comes to mind at first! Think about the way you want to feel outside, when you’re alone or with your family. Then, slowly, begin to take some simple steps to loving the outdoors. Here are some ideas…
Take typical indoor activities outside – This is one of the easiest things that you can do to start getting outside more often and acclimating to the feeling. Think of the things you normally do inside and ask yourself if you could do this outside. Things like eating, reading, making a phone call, writing, drinking your morning coffee, working, playing a game…pretty much anything can be moved to a patio table, hammock, or blanket on the grass, and it gets you spending time outside.
Start small – If you have grand visions of going on big family adventures, start small! Walk around your neighborhood, look for easy local nature trails, try some short, easy hikes, go on little microadventures to places you can drive to and back in a day, etc. You wouldn’t start with a full marathon as soon as you decided to become a runner – you’d start with some light jogging and slowly build up to where you want to be. The same is true here.
Learn more about your area – Knowledge is power, so if fear is one of the big things that holds you back from getting outside, learning more about the wildlife and flora in your area is a great way to combat those fears, but also give you a reason to get out and explore more! And this skill will come in super handy when you do start planning those bigger family adventures, as you’ll be doing lots of research and planning before heading on your way.
Invest in the proper gear – No hike is going to be enjoyable if you’re wearing old sneakers, or if you don’t have the rain gear when you get caught in a shower. Even if you’re just getting started with little steps, make the investment in good outerwear for you and your kids.
Stop thinking so much – Seriously. Often we think far too much about the things we don’t want to do instead of focusing on the things we DO want to do and feel. If you are committed to loving your time in nature with your kids, stop thinking and start doing!
Everyone can love the outdoors if they make a conscious effort to do so! The benefits of time spent in nature are so immense for children and adults, so really… you can’t afford NOT to learn to love spending time outside.
Are you someone who doesn’t or didn’t enjoy the outdoors and committed to making a change? What helped you make that change? Which of these are you going to try? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Leah McDermott, M.Ed. is an Educator turned Mother of two and advocate for the encouragement and development of natural, child-led learning. Since 2009, she has helped families and educators provide their children with meaningful learning experiences through her one-of-a-kind curriculum and community, Your Natural Learner. When she’s not teaching and sharing in her Your Natural Learner Facebook Group, she can be found enjoying the great outdoors with her family in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest. Follow along with her on Facebook and Instagram.