Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad.
I see you over there reading all about the benefits to the outdoors. Kids running free in the woods. Climbing trees. Splashing in puddles. Overturning rocks. You want to love it. You really do. It looks like everyone is having a great time. Even babies seem to be loving it. But there you are, wishing you did too. Instead, your mind wanders. You find yourself thinking about sweat, dirt, mud, ticks, poison ivy, nasty injuries, leeches - well, I don't want to add more to your list - you get the idea. We know being outside in the elements isn't always as natural a fit as some of us would like.
That's okay. It doesn't mean you can't go with your children on outdoor excursions, especially if it's something they enjoy. It just means you, like your child, are challenging yourself to step outside of your comfort zone every time you go into nature. That's not easy to do. But sometimes we do it because we know the benefits are worth the push.
Here are some ways we've found can help you even slightly overcome the things you don't like in the outdoors:
01. Take it Slow
Don't think you're ready for heading deep into the woods yet, or for your child to cover themselves in mud or climb fallen trees? Go slow. The benefits to outdoor play happen in all kinds of settings - wherever nature is found - and with all kinds of activities. Start with something relatively easy for you and add new elements to it each time you go back.
02. Go Outside Often
Make sure you head out into nature on a regular basis. The more you expose yourself and your family to the outdoors, the more likely you are to see those benefits come to life. It also makes you more likely to find comfort in what was once a challenging setting or activity.
03. Be Prepared
It always helps to be prepared when heading into the outdoors, whether or not you're a fan of it. For those who regularly venture outside, it's often second nature to bring supplies along. For those new to the game, think about the season and the activity at hand. Do you want towels because there's mud involved? Do you want long pants + closed-toed shoes because you're headed into high grass? Do your kids need gentle reminders about safety? Preparation will help put you at ease and keep the fun going longer.
04. Talk with Inspiring Friends
Sometimes it can feel embarrassing to admit there are things about the outdoors you don't like, especially when you're surrounded by families who don't seem to have the same issues. But talk it over with your friends. You might find they once had similar concerns or now have helpful advice. Make sure the friends you turn to, though, are the ones who inspire you. They often have that magical combination where they can comfort and challenge you at the very same time.
05. Watch your Kids
When in doubt about whether or not outdoor play is worth it, just pull up a seat to the show your children are putting on about discovery, creation, collaboration, safely engaging in risky play and coming out more confident on the other end. Watch them in their play. They are challenging themselves in their own ways, as well. And when they love their experiences, it can make the internal struggle we go through feel worth it.
So Mom, Dad, you're not alone. There are different elements in the outdoors that make many parents hesitate - whether it's a muddy mess or the dangers within. But when you challenge yourself, you have the chance to take part in some amazing and memorable adventures with your children. It may not be easy, but you can do it. You just may thank yourself later.
Fellow Mamas in the Woods
Get Our Free Guide
Sign up for our newsletter and receive Forest School For All's free guide, Outdoor Play: Top 10 Tips for Unstructured, Free Play.