The biggest problem that most parents deal with today is getting the kids out into the sun. Not just forcing them out but getting them engaged and making the outdoors and self-reliance part of their lifestyle. We all want to come up with something that makes our kids excited to be doing something other than using electronics.
Whether fighting phones or video games parents have a tall order this day and age. The children of the new Millennium are busy biding their time in isolation and the fact is, it’s very unhealthy. Just the lack of exposure to the sun is reason enough to want to get your kids out. The precious vitamin D that comes from sun has been shown to have incredible benefits. This is particularly true for developing bodies.
So, the question is: What the heck can I get my kid into and keep their interest.
I am going to give you 5 tips, but you need to understand this, they will all take time and commitment on your end.
Is there anything more exciting than a treasure hunt? Well, the idea behind the geocache is just that. It’s a treasure map that runs on your phones GPS. All across the nation there are people hiding geocaches and it is up to you and the geocache community to find them. This is a serious community that loves seeking out these treasures and hiding them.
Now the “treasure” is most often a simple water tight container that is filled with a notebook or and some small trinkets. You can trade trinkets at a geocache site, but it is important that you also sign and date the book. The book lets other geocachers know its still active.
Geocaching is about much more than just finding little boxes with stuff in them. Some geocaches are also about finding unique physical features on the earth. These caches will be local, and I can guarantee if you are near even a small city, you will be able to find a ton of caches.
Kids love this stuff. Set aside some time, don’t rush it and let the kids search and navigate. You might be outside for hours!
Forget about lunkers and start thinking about your children’s interaction with the water and the world around it. You need to keep fishing with the family simple. Small hooks and live worms or, better yet, minnows. You can catch your own minnows with a cheap dip net. This is an adventure by itself.
When fishing with the kids its about quantity over quality. Keep a few and prepare what you catch as well. It shows them the whole cycle.
Even better is to pack some food and take a lunch by the pond or stream. You will find this is a wonderful time to teach them about the world around them.
Hiking is a misleading thing. I challenge you to ask your kids what they think hiking is. You might be surprised at the answer. Kids think of hiking as getting on a path and walking with a backpack on. Maybe that is what you think hiking is, too!
Well, when coordinated right, hiking is all about the adventure and you can have a serious grand finale if you plan your hikes right. This takes time and effort. It might also take a bit of a drive as well. That is not always the worst thing.
A well-planned hike with kids should take into account a few things.
- Skill Level
If you have a young hiker who isn’t strong enough to climb rough terrain, doesn’t have good hiking boots and doesn’t really want to go hiking, the nine-mile loop is probably not the best place to start. Though, I have found that you do want to keep it challenging and help them along the way.
If you have no idea where to begin just open google and search local hikes for kids or family-friendly hikes in your area. Look for features like rock scrambles, waterfalls, viewpoints and swimming holes. All of this will give your hike depth and your kids will look forward to the next one.
Build a kit
If you don’t think hiking is your thing you should build an emergency kit together. You can start by building a household kit. This is a great little project and it can start by doing a little shopping. Make a list and take your kid shopping for the things on that list.
If you have a kit already build a small bag just for your child and their needs. This is a great exercise in preparedness as well as a reason to get away from the electronics. Your child will have a sense of ownership for their bag, if they create it themselves. They will also know how to manage that bag if they know where things are.
Beyond that, use the bag or the kit whenever you can. Don’t just store these things away and never use them. When the lights go out just pull the kit or the bag out. Go through it and see what you have that can help.
Mind what you watch
Kids wanna do what you do. They wanna be what you are. They wanna impress you and make you proud. They take those cues from what you watch. If you are always watching sports or action movies they may not even realize that the outdoors are important to you or that emergency preparedness is something you care about.
Make it very apparent and integrate it into your own life. Read the books and watch the shows that reflect what you are passionate about. Start your day with a hunting or fishing show and your kids will likely watch it by your side.
Kids aren’t so bad. With a little creativity and commitment, you can get them on the road to self-sufficiency in no time. If you begin to integrate the activities above you will, certainly, be surprised at what your kids are doing in a year. They will be balanced and that is the best you can do as a parent.
Now, when it comes to convincing your spouse, that’s another story! You might be on your own with that one.