When Mum and Dad love outdoor activities, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as raising children who are equally enthusiastic about getting out of the city and into the great outdoors. However, it’s not always as easy as planning a camping trip and expecting your kids to love it. Sometimes, their estimation of fun looks quite a bit different than ours does.
Even so, there are a few crafty strategies that parents can use to bring up outdoor-loving children. Read on for a few tips.
Limit screen time
This may make you the least popular parent in the neighborhood (at least according to your children), but limiting idle time spent in front of television, smart phone, tablet and computer screens is going to make the kids feel bored. That’s a good thing. Boredom breeds creativity and action. It drives us outdoors and prompts us to plan games and activities. It’s so easy to cave on this one, but the results justify your own gentle stubbornness.
Whether you allow a certain number of hours of screen time per day or set aside certain hours of the day when screen time of any sort is allowed (probably easier), your kids are likely to head out the front door in search of something else to do. With that in mind, provide them constructive outdoor activities and watch them get hooked.
Get special gear just for the kids
Anyone who has raised children (or can remember their own younger days) knows how important ownership is to little ones. While there is no need to splurge and buy them top-performing hiking and camping gear, there is certainly something to be said for outfitting them with everything they need to tackle the outdoors right alongside you.
Obviously, we’re not suggesting you put anything dangerous in the hands of your children. They’ll be thrilled, though, if you strap them with a nice pair of walking boots that look like your own – only in miniature. Likewise, little gadgets like a head lamp and a compass are going to thrill your outdoorsy kids, not to mention a hammock.
Keep the load light for children
Enjoying the outdoors is a lot easier when you’re unburdened by a heavy pack or excessive gear. We adults understand that carrying your gear is part of the outdoor paradigm, and doing so gives us access to out-of-the-way places that we couldn’t have reached in a short walk from our car.
You might be tempted to instill a sense of responsibility in your children by insisting that they carry a light pack just like everyone else does. Sure, you’ll be teaching them about the harsh realities of life. You’ll also be giving them a whole bagful of reasons not to enjoy heading out into the wilderness with you.
One of the beautiful things about kids is that they naturally want to emulate us. Chances are good that they’ll ask to carry their own pack long before they’re big enough to handle much weight. By all means, let them do so when they want to. Just don’t insist upon it.