I don’t get outside as much as I should. I don’t take the kids out as much as they should get out, either.
I see photos of other parents taking their children out for bike rides or hikes and wonder, Where do they get the time? And, more importantly, Where do they get the energy?
Part of the problem is that my wife and I start the bedtime routine at 6:30—a time requested by my exhausted firstborn when she began kindergarten. By the time I get home from work and we all eat dinner, there’s not many minutes left for a trip anywhere.
Sure, I suppose we could take a walk around the block. And as I type this, I’m wondering why we don’t. And as I type that, I’m remembering that a simple stroll through our complex is anything but, since one kid will start complaining that she’s tired and wants to be carried, which will prompt the other to want to be carried—both by the same parent, both on the shoulders. Since that’s physically impossible, it becomes a fight.
In preparation for a jog-a-thon at my firstborn’s school earlier this year, she suggested training by running laps around our complex in the mornings. We tried it, and the first attempt started strong with a burst of enthusiastic speed, followed by a dawdling hunt for sticks and leaves that resembled letters so she could spell her name out of items from nature.
It’s not like we’re cave dwellers. We do take walks, and by “we” I mean “my wife and kids while I’m at work.” We aim to get out and about on the weekends: to local parks, usually. When it’s warmer, we swim at the pool or play games in the spa. And we just signed up my firstborn for softball and my secondborn for ballet, so there’s activity right there.
I don’t really have any good excuses for not getting out more, though. I mean, I do have excuses, but they’re not good ones. And I certainly don’t want to be mumbling something about tight schedules while my pasty children shield their eyes and hiss toward the sky, “The yellow face! It burns us!”
How do you incorporate the outdoors into your (presumably) busy life?
8 thoughts on “Outside Week: The Sun”
Correct me if I’m wrong but I think you’re saying you want outdoors activity that’s got purpose and structure? What’s wrong with having indoors structured activity, and time spent outdoors messing about with sticks? I think kids can infuriate us at times because they seem so aimless, but for me, just messing about with children in a pointless kind of way is the most fun I think I’ve ever had. If you can let them be in charge, you learn the most amazing things.
That’s a great point! I suppose that it’s really exercise I’m after for my kids, who don’t have a backyard in which to run around. But thanks for the reminder that not everyone operates on my agenda—or any agenda, for that matter.
When other people put up pictures of themselves and their kids out and about, taking part in “outdoorsy” things, you should bear in mind that those parents are probably just the same as you, but are feeling so smug and virtuous from their one foray into the outside world that they want to share it with everyone – always super-casual, like “we do this all the time.” By the time you see the photos, those kids may well be back indoors, tapping away on their video games.
I do try to get my kids out every day for some fresh air, and quite often find that we really don’t go very far at all. My two can get a full hour out of looking under the hedgerow behind our house – so I let them!
One idea they both loved was a “midnight” nature trail – it gets dark here at 4pm in the winter, so what they thought was midnight was actually about 6pm. We wrapped up warm, took torches, and crept up and down the street looking at bugs, slugs and other creepies. They loved the excitement of being out “late” and there was much less dawdling because we were on a “mission!”
A midnight nature trail sounds like a lot of fun. And I love kids’ sense of time. My 6-year-old stayed up reading (mostly just looking at books) once until 9 p.m. I kept peeking in and didn’t have the heart to stop her. She eventually fell asleep, but the next day she told me she stayed up for the entire night with her books.
I don’t want to push softball on you but, I’m going to push softball on you. I’ve never been a big sports guy. It’s just never really been my thing but when my wife decided she wanted to coach my daughter’s softball team I said “Cool.” I didn’t have any interest in it but thought that it was a great idea for her. I took one season before I was dragged onto the field. That was more than six years ago. I never would have done that without the “gentle” persistence of my wife asking for help but I’m glad I did. I don’t have just one girl on that field, now I have twelve – and it’s great.
Don’t try to figure out how you’re going to make the schedule work. Just do it. “There is no try.”
Wow, and you got the Yoda reference in there. Yeah, we took the leap of softball faith. I’m sure the sport will start appearing more often in the Shallows soon …
Outside: the original play station, right? I really appreciate you analyzing this because it is so easy in our western societies to remain within the confine of our “homes” (especially depending on where you live) that every little (small or big) outdoor activity is a blessing. I’m glad you’re taking on softball too. God bless!
– HF: holyfemme.wordpress.com