Here are 3 fun outdoor activities you and your children, young or old, can do together this year.
Plant a Garden
I remember pulling weeds when I was young, and I hated it, but when it came to planting vegetables or flowers, that was a different story. As a child, it was great to eat some of the produce that I had planted and watered and weeded with my own hands. Homegrown is the best, but it’s even better when you grow it yourself…or least help. And maybe best of all was the time spent playing in the dirt when my son and I planted some vegetables. He began to take ownership of the garden. He insisted on checking on it every day to see how the plants were doing, and how near the harvest was. He was excited to see the new strawberries come, potatoes grow, and even okra, which by the way, have some of the most beautiful flowers you’ll see. It was fun working and planting and tending the garden together, and even playing in the dirt at times. He made some roads near the edge of the garden, and we’d sometimes play with his toy cars and trucks. Even though we got dirty, it was good, wholesome fun. And, it was a memorable time that I will never forget. I don’t think he will either, so try planting a garden with your family…or even a few flowers. We planted some catnip last year, and that became the cat’s favorite place.
Wash the Car
When I was washing my car one sunny Saturday afternoon, I asked my son if he wanted to help. Naturally, at about 6 years old, he was more than eager to join in the fun, and fun it was. I think we got wetter than the car did, and maybe more soaped up than the car we were trying to wash, but it was fun, and that was the general idea. Yes, it was nice to get the car washed, and yes, I could have taken it to the car wash, but we saved money, and better, we had a blast….literally…a blast of water. We ended up soaking each other and laughing ourselves silly. What better activity than to involve the family in a car wash, or washing the dog (outside is best), or washing the cat (inside is best, maybe the garage), and watering the garden or flowers (maybe even each other). It’s easier to get the kids off the couch if you act like you need their help, and yes, they can help you, but it’s more about getting to work together on a family activity. It draws the family closer, and the fun is sometimes the best thing of all. We can get soaking wet, but we have wonderful memories that will last much longer than it takes for our clothes to dry.
Play in the Park
Back to the earliest part of my own fatherhood, I used to take my son down to the park and push him in a swing, then we’d swing next to each other and try to bump into one another, and he would laugh and laugh, one time he laughed so hard we had to go home and change his pants. We were playing what I call, “crash dummies,” like the old crash dummies in the public service announcements about where your seatbelts. And wow, did we ever have fun at the park. Today, some playground equipment might not be suitable for dad or mom, but there are other places that can even accommodate adults. Running, jumping, playing catch, playing Frisbee, or just playing on the equipment reaps a big harvest of fun for all, and from my own experience, I can tell you that the kids slept good at night on the days we took them to the park. They ran out off of their energy, but at least their energy was expended on fun! Those memories can never be taken from them. That could give them a heritage with their own children someday (which it has, as I’m now a grandfather) when they do the very same things with their children. I have seen this type of history be repeated in families, but fewer and fewer people are spending time outdoors with their children, and consequently, spending less and less time with their children; this given the fact that every minute spent with their child is an investment into their life.
Maybe you can think of something that you or your family has done together outdoors. If you can, please share it with us and let us know so we can learn how to spend more time with our children and grandchildren in the great outdoors. There’s nothing compared to spending time outside doing physical activities with your children, grandchildren ,foster children or whoever you’re caring for. It pays huge dividends for today, but also for the rest of their life. No one can take away the wonderful memories of outdoor fun and those times are permanently marked into their minds anyway, and so much so, that they will never fade away. He even talks about the fun we had today as he is over 30. He finds himself repeating some of the same activities with his own three sons. This is a family tradition that will not only last, but have lasting impact for ages to come. Only later will we know the great impact of the time we spent with our children and grandchildren, but the opposite is also true…a child or children left to themselves will still find things to do, but they might not be the most wholesome things. Spend time with your children and grandchildren outdoors. It’s an investment that will give returns for the rest of your life and for the rest of theirs.