I’ve got a mission for you this week: get outside while you still can.
Look, I don’t know where you live, but up here in New England it’s starting to get cold. Really cold. There’s no snow on the ground just yet, but it’s certainly chilly enough to warrant a day spent inside. I get that. I really do. However, if you’ve got kids like me, you have got to get them out of the house. Otherwise they’ll act like animals trapped too long at the zoo, pacing back and forth out of sheer stir crazy restlessness. You don’t want that.
So go outside. Every day.
On board yet? Great! Now you just need a plan. You can’t just go outside and let the kids run amok, after all. Kids in control are a very bad thing. So assert yourself like the upstanding patriarch that you are and leave the house prepared. Here are some suggestions for making your outdoor life exciting and manly:
Here in the Northeast we are buried in leaves this time of year. They’re pretty, sure, but if you leave them lying around for too long they get soggy. Can’t have that. So you have to rake them up. But why torture yourself by taking on that task alone? Bring along the kids instead. Children love leaf piles. They can dive, jump, and practice all their favorite wrestling moves in them, all without the danger of getting hurt. Plus you can keep burying them in more leaves, which they can’t get enough of. It’s like trapping them in nature’s bubble wrap. Safe and confining! What more could you ask for?
Who are parks made for? People like you, my friend! Taking your kids to the park is a brilliant way to give them the opportunity to blow off some steam. They’re big, they’re safe, and there’s a lot to see and do. Put the kids on the swings, let them climb on the jungle gym, or just have them run across the vast expanses of grass. It’s all good. Bring some toys along too, like a ball, Frisbee, or…
My daughter loves bubbles. I do too. Why? Because she chases them as they dance through the air, but I don’t need to constantly fetch them like a ball. Once they pop or drift off into the distance, all I need to do is blow another batch. They’re easy, they’re cheap, and kids just can’t help but run after them. If there is a knock on bubbles, it’s that kids seem to always want to put the wands in their mouth. I’m not sure why. I doubt the suds taste like mac and cheese, but if you can manage to avoid that circumstance, you’re good to go, friend.
If your kid is old enough to ride a bike, then this is another great way to get them to expend a lot of energy without severely depleting your own supply. Just be sure to find a nice flat surface if the child is on the young side, like a tennis or basketball court. There aren’t likely to be many ball players using those surfaces this time of year anyway. The nice thing about courts like this is that they’re not as hair-raising for you as a sidewalk, which are often sloped, bumpy, and oh so close to roadways. The first time my daughter rode her bike on the sidewalk I lost about three pounds in sweat weight. And it ended with tears (I’ll let you guess whose). It wasn’t a fun experience, so if yours is close to toddler age, I’d suggest a flatter, more open alternative.
There’s something to be said about planning to not have a plan at all. Just exploring your surroundings, especially if nature is involved, is a simple but effective way to learn and discover new things. Like the drift speed of sticks thrown into a river and how many rocks your child can fit in her jacket pockets. These lazy adventures help forge the most lasting of memories. Don’t deprive yourself of such!
So happy outdoor adventuring this week everybody. Even on Thanksgiving! Get out of the house, get away from your in-laws, and burn off that turkey and pie with the kids. Do it while you still can too!
After all, winter is coming…