The great outdoors

secret walk


This time of year is crucial for us Midwesterners as winter is approaching and you need to get all of the outdoor time you can with your kids before the onset of the arctic tundra settles over your small town. The icy winds blast into your face, and up your pant leg, once you walk outside and every year we ask, “What the !@#$ are we doing here?”


During the day I am alone with my kids and I often find it hard to go to local parks because  1. there are never any families to talk with or play with and 2. I find it difficult to play games with the kids while they try and figure out what to do at said park. I usually shut down when I’m outside. It’s sort of meditative for me and maybe a bit of a habit as in my single days I would wander outside for time to think and ponder my life. I still go straight into that mode when I step out, even if I’m with the kids.


All that to say if you are like me and taking your children outdoors is not so much a chance to come up with games for them to play or to help them to have a good time  as it is to get them in the fresh air and playing with one another, then there may be more alternatives than the classic park. This is what I am learning:

Going to parks is fun but it can get stale, especially for them. There’s only so many times your son will want to ride a plastic, bendy model of Clifford the Big Red Dog. If you’re needing to get them out to run off some fumes you may be heading into a play place that doesn’t foster as much imagination as one would hope. There’s only so much swinging and sliding that a child can do before they begin to whine (most likely a sign of boredom).

Therefore our family has a lot more fun on walks and out in the woods. Our wooded space is limited here but there are a few patches of trees and fields that my kids refer to as ‘the forest’. Here they can run on a trail, find sticks to hit things with, play hide and seek in the tall grass or log roll down hills. We’ve had so much more fun on walks. They end up talking more, asking more questions (at least Oliver does) and we are moving together so it’s not like I’m just at a park standing in one spot, which I’m not completely fond of. I try to wear them out by creating little games. “Run up the hill as fast as you can! Ok, now log roll down. GO!” We can do this several times to get some energy out. If they seem to be losing stream it’s onto a new game or a new scene.


This is so much more fulling for me than taking them to a park. I do love parks when they are full of people and kids. These days that isn’t always easy to find, especially if you home school. Going to the park during school hours is a sure way to hear crickets in the background, and not much else. The days are getting shorter and I am not always excited about getting outside if it’s going to mean much more work. I need breaks too. So we walk, which I do love. I would love to hear what you do outside with your kids if the park is the last place you want to take them. I’ll post it to your page if you’d like so others can get more ideas for their family.


Here’s to the whole of life!


autumn walk



9 thoughts on “The great outdoors

  1. I love this, Tracie – we went on a lot of walks when I was a kid, and even though, initially, I remember thinking, “Another walk?” we always ended up having a blast and connecting a lot more as a family. I’ll have to remember this for later years! 🙂 I also love this last pic – so good!

  2. I agree parks can be alot of work sometimes if your going solo with the kids.. Ive been there! We’ve gone to a river trail here alot and picked berries and looked at fish, fed the ducks and birds etc.. stopped for a picnic, but I know the weather like you were saying is just brutal so not sure if this kind of stuff is really something right now that would be fun if its cold already.. A few things just around our house that the girls love to do is take jars and go on missions to find worms and bugs.. they will spend forever doing this! Also i they love to take their garden tools and just go at the dirt outside getting all good and messy.. They like to find leaves, rocks and weird things that we can draw faces on etc.. I know you can only do so much of it though.. I think if it was up to the girls every piece of grass and partical outside would have a face so you have to put a stop to it before you go crazy you know.. sounds like walking is fun for you guys though.. Great way to get their excercize on!

  3. I appreciate this post. We just moved and I’ve been missing the park that was right across the street from our house. I just liked the community feel and being in Costa Rica – weather’s not an issue. I got to know the other moms that came in the mornings and what time who would be there, etc. It was just a fun little routine. There was also a little foster home with about 10 kids that would be there every sunny morning at 10 a.m. – i got to know all those kids over the last two years. I just find myself missing that. So I know the scenario here is totally different, but nevertheless your post did encourage me to get out there (Once I’m feeling better) and explore some of the parks in our new area – which are more like what you’re describing – nature trails versus playground. For now my kids are loving being outside playing in our cul-de-sac and the little empty lot across the street. The big thing right now is climbing trees, skateboarding, bug collecting and playing with neighbor friends.

  4. Pingback: Letting my kids roam « Tea and Chopsticks

  5. Your post showed up on my blog about parks and nature. I hear ya, I love the woods but we’ve been trying to find nature everywhere. We also homeschool. Spring Break the parks were hopping and this week not so much. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    • Nice. I am looking forward to reading yours too. We’re in the process of moving to a more outdoorsy state and I cannot wait. I’ve been a bit busy with finishing work on our house to sell it so I haven’t written as much but I’m hoping to get more time this coming week. Thanks for reading and posting.

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