You don’t need to plan a massive expedition or spend a fortune on getting your kids outside. Just open your front door and start exploring!
I was contacted recently by the media team at Gillette and asked to write a guest blog for their ‘Be Your Best’ campaign about what it means for me to get outside with my family. It was a pretty easy thing to write because it’s something we do a lot with our two young boys, which us a good job because otherwise we wouldn’t have much content for this blog!
I started typing almost on autopilot because it’s the kind of thing I’ve written a million times before, but while doing so the thing that dawned on me most was that one of the biggest barriers to getting outside with kids is perception. And by that I’m referring to the fact so many of us feel the need to go for the extreme, or try to plan something impossibly big. Which then, due to the logistical issues connected with planning huge adventures, often means they don’t actually end up happening.
I love my little family more than anything in the world, and I love my kids for constantly challenging me to come up with new ideas, and to try to inject a little bit of adventure into our lives every weekThe Outdoor Dad
Below is an extract from the article I wrote for Gillette, and you can read the whole thing by heading over to their website: FULL BLOG HERE
But if you don’t read beyond this sentence, my advice is pretty simple. Don’t worry about how big or small you start with outdoor adventures, but do start. Even if it’s just a trip to the bottom of your own garden.
What Being Outdoors Has Taught Me About Fatherhood
Finding a few hours to spend quality time outdoors with your family and relaxing away from the frenzy of everyday life is difficult – but it’s not impossible.
Your kids may love watching Netflix on the iPad (I know mine do), but they also love opening the back door and charging around your garden. They love digging around in leaves looking for snails, paddling in the local river, climbing the trees in the park, walking through the woods, jumping in puddles, riding their scooters, collecting conkers, feeding the ducks, toasting marshmallows on campfires, kicking footballs, camping under the stars…I could go on forever.
I think there’s a common misconception that everything we do needs to be epic. But you don’t need to climb a mountain with your kids to give them a memorable outdoor experience. You don’t need to spend a fortune on an adventure holiday, or travel for hours to some faraway beach or National Park. There’s a giant natural adventure playground waiting for you just beyond your front door.
I’ve always been outdoorsy, and I’ve got my parents to thank for that. They never pushed me into anything, but they always encouraged me to get out there and try new things. Hiking, biking, horse riding, tennis, climbing, canoeing, camping, volleyball, abseiling…I didn’t stick at all of them, but I’m glad I gave them all a go. It dragged me off the sofa when I’d have been more than happy to watch movies all day every day, and showed me what was going on in the world around me. It also taught me how to relax, bury myself in nature for hours on end, and switch off from the madness of everyday life.
But I don’t like to get too philosophical about it, because the main reason I get outdoors is because it’s awesome, and a hell of a lot of fun. Since my first son was born (he’s now three) we’ve had non-stop adventures, and he never fails to amaze and inspire me with his energy, enthusiasm, determination, and relentless desire to try new things. We started with walks in the pram, then in the baby carrier, and eventually on his own two feet. We bought a baby bike seat, then he got his own balance bike, and now he’s a master (and a menace) on his scooter.
We’ve slept in tents, canoed down rivers, built snowmen, swam in the sea, climbed hills, swung in hammocks, built dens, played endless games of football, charged around adventure playgrounds, and basically had the time of our lives.
And the best thing is, it’s all been so simple to do.
We don’t tend to travel far and wide to get outdoors, we just do as much as we can close to home. It doesn’t cost us a lot of money and it doesn’t take loads of planning, but what it does need is the motivation to get out there and try something a little bit different from time to time.
Our second son was born in June this year, and he’s as cheeky as the first, so we’ve definitely got trouble ahead. He’ll be crawling soon and then the whole cycle starts over again, but this time with double the fun.
I love my little family more than anything in the world, and I love my kids for constantly challenging me to come up with new ideas, and to try to inject a little bit of adventure into our lives every week – I wouldn’t want it any other way.