In a world that feels like it's getting more complicated by the moment, moms know there's power in returning to one of the simplest pleasures of them all — the basic act of going outside.
Between the digitalization of every aspect of kids' lives and the jam-packed extracurricular schedules that have become commonplace for today's families, carving out time to appreciate the outdoors is more important than ever.
And since planning family time in nature isn't always as easy as it sounds, Romper teamed up with DairyPure to find a mom with a passion for getting her kids out of the house, and we talked to her about the ways she encourages her family to explore the world around them.
On a late August day that felt more like fall than summer, Connecticut-based life and style blogger Liz Joy invited Romper to join her and her family for a conversation about the amazing things that can happen when you prioritize pure moments of outdoor fun. The chat happened in the downtime between pitching a tent and making s'mores — all part of a kid-friendly backyard campout.
"I feel that it’s really the way kids are naturally supposed to develop — getting dirty, experiencing all the different textures outside, seeing nature," Liz tells Romper. "It just makes me feel happy to see them growing the way they should."
Here are Liz's tips for creating pure moments of outdoor fun with your family.
1. Start Them Young
For Liz, the key to instilling a love of the outdoors in her children was laying a foundation from the very beginning.
"From the time my kids were born (they were both born in the summer), I would have them outside, on the deck when they were infants, always going on walks," Liz tells Romper. "My husband and I appreciate being outside, so we’ve been constantly bringing our kids outside since they were babies, and giving them this love of being outdoors."
And if your kids are older, don't fret! It's never too late to make a habit of getting outside. Start small by simply moving their favorite traditionally indoor activities like painting, reading, or listening to music, out of the house and into the fresh air.
2. Choose Activities That Everyone Can Enjoy
Instead of solely focusing on so-called "kids' activities" like blowing bubbles and T-ball (although those are great too!), Liz suggests also sharing parents' favorite outdoor pastimes, and adapting them to fit kids' abilities.
"It’s getting more and more fun because as the kids grow they’re becoming more independent and more able to do things that we enjoy doing too, like fishing and swimming in the ocean. We’ve been able to start exposing them to those things that we love and to see them enjoying that is just so great."
3. Be Strategic In Your Scheduling
Liz let Romper in on a little, paradoxical-sounding secret: Sometimes fun is better off scheduled. Spontaneous playdates and last-minute park visits sound lovely, but they're not always the most practical ways to get your family moving.
"I would say that you definitely should block off time where you can to just have fun. If you’ve got 30 minutes in between coming home from school and preparing dinner, block off the time, and prioritize it."
Kids will look forward to unobstructed outdoor playtime, and bonus: they'll be able to get all of their energy out before bedtime.
4. Set Clear Limits On Electronics
When kids beg for tablets and gaming devices in place of backyard adventures and games of tag at the playground, don't throw in the towel. Liz encourages moving away from all-or-nothing thinking and letting kids enjoy their time with electronics — with a time limit, of course.
"We actually set a timer, so I'll give the kids the tablet if I have to be doing something like making dinner or writing a few emails. I’ll set the timer and then say, 'OK you have 20 minutes to be on your tablet and when you’re done we’re putting it away and we’re going outside.'"
5. Don't Let Your Setting Restrict You
Even if you don't have an expansive backyard or a neighborhood park right across the street, Liz stresses that you shouldn't let your surroundings deter you from creating active moments fun for your family. When it comes to quality time outside, being creative with what's around you is key.
"If you’re in the city, you can go to the park, the zoo, the playground, and just be outside and interacting with other people and having those amazing experiences," says Liz — and what could be more pure than that?
Photographer: Heather Moore; Prop Stylist: Kiera Coffee; HMU Artist: Brett Jackson; Art Director: Julie Vaccaro; Producer: Kat Fry; Video Producer: Lauren Tegtmeyer; Editor: Suzanne McKenzie.
This post is sponsored by DairyPure.