We’re huge fans of nature walks here at the Yankee Homestead. And after years of nature walking with kids, I’ve learned a thing or two about making the experience enjoyable for all. Just in case you missed it last week, Tip #1 was Find a Buddy.
And now, for Tip #2…
Tip #2. Make It a Habit
It’s easy to dream up grandiose plans for all those nature walks you’d like to do with your kiddos. It’s quite another thing to execute those plans, and to do so on a regular basis. The following are my top ways to make nature walks a habit.
1. Write it on the Calendar
If you find a nature walk buddy, making a date is sort of a given. If for whatever reason you’re doing it solo, making a date is even more important. Go ahead and plan nature walks into your month or week. Write it on the calendar.
You might have to cancel or postpone a few scheduled walks due to weather or unforeseen events, but even if you keep half the dates you plan, it will be better than doing no nature walks at all.
2. Make It a Priority
Do you wish your family “had more time” to enjoy nature? With or without a nature walk buddy, scheduling nature time on the calendar makes it a priority, and turns wishful thinking into reality.
By the way, did you know that time spent in nature is actually critical for proper child development? One of my favorite nature books cites all kinds of studies and statistics showing how “Nature Deficit Disorder” negatively impacts our kids.
So remember: nature time is not just a frivolous extra curricular activity but rather a necessary part of our kids’ development. That ought to give it priority status in our schedules!
3. Decide on the Frequency
This will look different for each family. Maybe you want to nature walk every week, or every two weeks, or every month. Perhaps you’d like to plan for an extra special nature adventure every quarter, or once a year. It’s up to you!
If you’re just starting out, I advise realistic thinking. 🙂 Don’t bite off more than you can chew, or more than your current schedule can accommodate. Start out small, and then tweak your plans as you go along.
At first, when our kids were smaller with fewer academic requirements, we met twice a month with our nature buddies. More recently we’ve scaled back to once a month. Generally, we plan three to four months in advance, selecting dates and blocking them off on the calendar.
4. Establish a Routine
In addition to monthly walks with our nature buddies, our family also tries to do a nature walk most Sunday evenings during good weather. Sunday nights are family night for us, and as often as possible, we try to do something outdoors or nature-related. (During the winter or in the event of rain, it often turns into game night or movie night.)
5. Pick the Right Time
As you make plans, be sure to schedule your nature walks at an appropriate time. Be realistic about how much time you’ll need (always more than you think) and try to pick a time when everyone is well-rested. For young children, early to mid-morning after a good night’s rest is ideal.
6. Bring Food
Another thing to keep in mind as you plan out your nature walks: FOOD. Food keeps everyone happy, which definitely makes for a more enjoyable experience for all. 🙂 Our own nature walks almost always include a picnic.
When we nature walk with our buddies, the adventure usually begins around 10:00 in the morning and ends with a picnic lunch. For our Sunday evening nature walks as a family, we pack a picnic dinner to eat first. Then we walk and explore.
Stay tuned for Tip #3! In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying this beautiful fall weather…
Check out the rest of the series 5 Tips for a Successful Nature Walk with Kids:
- #1 Find a Buddy
- #2 Make it a Habit
- #3 Choose the Right Spot
- #4 Gear Up
- #5 Keep it Simple
- Bonus Tip: Read Up
Calendar image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.