Finding time to get outdoors as a family is tough when you work full-time, but that doesn’t mean weekday adventures are impossible. Here’s how we do it…
It’s easy to slip into a very familiar and predictable routine as a family on working weekdays. Does this sound familiar?
Get up (early), make breakfast, stick the kids in front of the TV while you get ready, battle relentlessly to get them ready, spend ages convincing everyone to leave the house, spend ages squeezing everyone into the car, drop the kids off at nursery or school (late), get to work (late), spend 8 or 9 hours trying to keep your eyes open at your desk, drive home in a rush, pick the kids up (late), shove some dinner down them, wrestle them into the bath, wrestle them into bed (late), eat some toast and the last scrapings of beans from an open tin in the fridge, fall asleep in front of the TV.
That happens to me a lot, and I’m always keen to stress that we don’t spend every minute of every day outside as this blog might make it look. But I’ve also realised it doesn’t take a lot more effort and planning to inject a little bit of adventure into your weekdays.
Take this morning for example. I was up at 6am as usual, took my two-year-old son downstairs for his breakfast, walked the dog, then was back in the house by 7.15am. Sonny starts nursery at 8am, so instead of faffing about on my iPhone for 20 minutes while he watched cartoons, I asked him if he’d like to go to the park. And of course, he said yes.
The sky was clear, the grass was frosty and crunchy, the birds were singing, and a golden sunrise was just starting to flicker through the trees. Sonny jumped on his balance bike, charged to our local park with a wide grin fixed to his face, then slalomed around on the grass, squealing with delight as the frozen blades crackled beneath his tyres.
We played on the swings until our fingers got too cold, then ran about on the grass chasing our long shadows between the horse chestnut trees. We were only in the park for around 30 minutes, but it was enough to send me to work in a good mood, feeling more energised than usual for the day ahead. And Sonny arrived at nursery with cold cheeks and fingers and a red nose and ears that he proudly showed off to the other kids.
I love this time of year, when the days are starting to stretch and the temperatures are finally starting to bubble in the right direction. In spring, summer and early autumn it feels like the days are long and endless, with never-ending opportunities to get outside with the kids. In winter it’s all about finding little pockets of time, coming up with a few daft ideas, then going for it.
We ride bikes and scooters on pavements in the dark, hunt for bugs in the garden by torchlight, play football on the patio under the glow of our outdoor security light, and this morning I realised for the first time that we also have time to fit in a dawn trip to the park before nursery drop-off.
I wish I had the time and motivation to do it every day, but I don’t. But then maybe that’s what makes the times when I do manage it feel even more special.