Imagine yourself stepping into your kitchen. You want to cook something amazing for your family. You prop up your tablet and begin browsing Pinterest for some healthy recipe inspiration.
However, that isn’t the only thing we use our phones for. Just a few minutes ago, you were scrolling through your emails as the kids did their homework at the kitchen table. And your daughter’s smartphone notifications went off as you were talking to her about her day at school. She grabbed the phone to look at it mid-sentence as if this were a reflex.
You looked around your home and realized that in addition to the massive 70-inch tv that looms above your family’s entertainment center, there were at least 5 or 7 other devices or screens in plain view. And at any moment, at least one or possibly all of the family members were “connected” to one device or another.
The Problem With Devices
These devices have slowly taken over so many aspects of our lives. Whether it is to do research for a school project, or to simply watch a movie, our kids and we have become excessively dependent on technology.
Besides research and entertainment, we have stopped stepping out of our houses and meeting other people for socializing due to this dependence. Writing letters to friends and family who live out of state (or in other countries) has become a thing of the past. In fact, we have also substituted meeting people in-person with the convenience and independence of interacting with them on social media.
Technology has also encroached into family time. The harsh reality is that most of us take our smart devices even to the bathroom and the dining table. Family meals are interrupted by calls, texts, and status updates. The old adage that families that eat together, stay together has never been truer. However, we have stopped paying attention to it.
Even so, it is never too late to re-introduce quality time in the lives of our families. In order for the familial bonds to strengthen or form, families need to spend time with each other. A great way to break the dependency on technology is to engage in outdoor activities for the whole family! Keep the members of the family interested in each other and take a break from the digital world.
Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors as a Family
Additionally, spending time doing outdoor activities with the family has many benefits including:
- Improves physical health for everyone in the family
- Lowers the risk of childhood obesity
- Helps families communicate with each other more
- Forms better relationships and helps maintain them over time
- Keeps family members from feeling alone or isolated
- Creates opportunities for conversations that would otherwise never happen
- Prevents or reduces feelings of isolation or loneliness
- Relieves stress and lowers the risk of depression, high blood pressure etc.
- Increases time spent with nature, promoting creativity and imagination in children
- Helps create happy, long-lasting memories
- Allows the family to learn new things about each other
- Can be turned into a learning experience for both kids and adults
I could go on! But let’s take a look at some of the best outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy together.
Best Outdoor Activities for the Whole Family
Photography can be turned into a wonderful outdoor experience for the family. You can take photos of objects or people around your yard or neighborhood. Learning how to use a camera can also be an educational experience for all family members. It will be an opportunity for your family to observe nature closely. In addition to that, you can also capture precious moments with cameras. Preserve your families with photos of even your everyday life. Rather than “upload” photos to the cloud, create family photo books. Give your kids the experience of flipping through those photographs to show how your family has grown and evolved.
Bird watching can be very relaxing and helps everyone in the family to connect with the environment on a deeper level. It also increases a family’s knowledge about the fascinating avian creatures that populate this world. For this activity, you won’t have to do much but head outside to your backyard or a nearby park or nature center.
Painting is a great outdoor activity for the family as it allows for creativity and stress relief. It also helps to improve kids’ concentration and focus. As they paint, they are paying attention to details and working on cognitive skills. Painting helps kids to focus on the present and just “be” and create. Painting can also sharpen fine motor skills and improve hand-eye coordination.
Spending time under the sun is usually a good idea. So hiking is another great outdoor activity for the family to do together. For one, it helps you get your daily dose of vitamin D! This vitamin is essential for healthy bones and strong muscles. If you add hiking to this equation, your family gets another opportunity for improving their health. Hiking raises your heart rate and can double as a moderate intensity exercise for the whole family.
Follow this tip to turn a family badminton tournament into something more than fun: make one of your kids the Umpire. Let each have their turn being the umpire. An umpire is supposed to keep score of the players. Therefore, your child will likely spend the time keeping track of the points. Such a mental workout will boost their memory and retention power. Another part of this memory exercise would involve your kid spending some time understanding the badminton rules and then using them to give decisions!
Kickball is such an easy game for everyone in the family to play together, and it’s so easy to learn which means kids of all ages can enjoy it. It also doesn’t require the players to exert much strength, which makes it perfect for kids as young as preschoolers. As they learn the rules and try to remember it, they will be giving their brains a workout. When they play on a team, they will learn how to be part of a group. For kids with a capacity to lead, a kickball match can be a good way to exercise and develop leadership qualities.
Gardening is great exercise and it’s so much fun! Gardening together helps develop fine motor skills. It will also help kids learn to focus better and be a great stress-reliever for everyone in the family. Then there are so many learning opportunities as well. The kids will learn more about plants and nature.
If you live near the coast, making regular trips to the beach can be restorative for the whole family. Spending time outside near the shore is relaxing and takes away the hectic, fast-paced feeling that we have too often nowadays.
A picnic is a great way to spend time outside. Getting away from the home for a day at the park – with a healthy, homemade lunch – allows everyone to connect with each other and the outdoors. You and your kids will love the outing!
Since kite flying is perfect as a group activity, it lends itself well to family time. It is one of the best outdoor activities for the whole family to do together. Everyone can join in and have fun. Trying to keep the kite up in the air will improve how your child focuses on the activity at hand. It will also make them more mindful of their surroundings.
There are many ways to spend more time with your family. And getting outside can be just the break your family needs from technology to reconnect and de-stress together. I hope you’ll choose one or all of these outdoor activities to help you and your family come closer to each other!
What outdoor activities does your family enjoy doing together? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!
Alicia Hyatte is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Family Wellness Advocate, Health Educator, and a Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coach. She helps parents to build healthier habits and routines to better balance home and work life. Her website, WholeFamilyLiving.com, provides motivation and simple strategies for handling everyday challenges like managing stress, being active, eating healthier, losing weight, and more. Alicia is a beach lover and gardening geek in her spare time.