Do you love the outdoors? Do your kids love to adventure with you? Although kids are wired to naturally enjoy playing outside, sometimes that wiring gets crossed. One day they are little kids just living for a playground, then all of a sudden they are glued to their electronic devices, more intent on watching other people do exciting things than doing it themselves.
It’s easy to get little kids outside. It gets trickier as they get older. At some point they start to be more interested in their friends and social media, and it’s tough to compete with these other distractions. You have to get creative, you may have to up your game a bit. Maybe the activities you used to do with your kids aren’t as enticing to them as they were when they were younger. So how do you solve this problem? And further, how do you solve it without spending a fortune?
Look at activities that would be exciting enough for your kids, even if they are out of your comfort zone. Kids today are so used to instant gratification that a lot of them have really short attention spans. Look at new activities that you can learn together. Have you tried fat tire biking in the winter? There are a lot of places where you can rent bikes. How about rock climbing? One of my favorites, learning to fly fish. It’s great to get your kids out in areas where there’s no network for their cell phones, if forces them to interact with you.
Paddle boarding offers enough challenge to keep a short attention span engaged, while also giving a sense of accomplishment. How about those places that do night-time paddle boarding where the boards light up the water? How cool would that be for you and your teen and even a few of their friends? Horseback riding is a great way to show them how to connect with the outdoors through an experience with the animal.
Snow shoes can be a blast. It’s fun to explore in the winter, where the world looks completely different. And being out in the cold air is good for burning off energy that seems to accumulate more during the cold winter months, making them bounce off the walls. Try researching some hikes that your family isn’t familiar with, then take a weekend to go find these new destinations. Even though we can be content going to the same peaceful places, kids often need more variety than we do to keep from getting bored.
And what if you just can’t get your kid disconnected? Then maybe you can take advantage of their world by finding apps that help get kids outside while still using technology. A few of my favorites:
Plane Finder – you can see where the planes in the sky are from and where they are going.
National Parks – details the National Parks so that you can make the most of your trips. This is a favorite one for adults too.
iTrack Wildlife – think of this as a kind of scavenger hunt.
iOrienteering – good for kids that like competition, it can be used for both running and mountain biking courses.
Go Sky Watch – details the stars and constellations you can see from where you are. This is fun for home, but it’s also great for travelling.
Whatever you choose for your kids, the trick is to do it with them. They are sometimes resistant to new experiences but will be more willing if you will do it too instead of just watching them. Somehow it’s a lot more fun if you get to watch your mom fall off of the windsurfing board than just falling off yourself. Having mom and dad put themselves out there shows that you don’t outgrow a sense of adventure. And they’re usually up for the opportunity to see their parents do new things, especially if there’s a chance for a good laugh. Or maybe that’s just my kids…
What outdoor activities have you found to keep your kids interested?