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!