How to create "outdoorsy" kids.

Most kids nowadays don't get enough outdoors time. iPads, TV, video games, etc have all helped to create stationary children that must be "screen-ertained". After a winter that most of us would agree was one of the worst ever endured, spring is more welcome than ever.

Here are some tips that I've gathered from my outdoor experiences with my kids:

spend more time out than in

If you're a homeschooling mama, it's easy to take advantage of being outdoors more than in. School can be done outside in the fresh air, any outdoor chores can be made into a game for little ones, and picnic lunches on a blanket are just the best. No mess to clean up afterwards...just shake the crumbs into the yard and voila! No huge toy mess to clean on the inside of the house....it's just bliss to be able to stay outdoors all day long. If your kids go to school or daycare, as soon as you get home, let them loose in the yard. Maybe even after a hearty dinner and a good run around the yard a few times, try and tackle the homework together in the fresh air and sunshine.

bikes, balls, and basic tools

Have a collection of outdoor toys that encourage your kids to keep moving. Skates, bikes, scooters, balls, boxes of rice for rice play, garden tools, a large empty box for creative play, sand, trucks, wagons, bubbles, water squirters, etc. The sky is the limit!

rainboots

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After many years of having two boys ruin pair after pair of shoes due to a dirt obsession, I had an epiphany...rainboots! Now every time my boys go outside, the rainboots go on. The way they can simply just be sprayed off after a fun afternoon dirt digging of making mud pies is just simply glorious. And if you don't have rainboots, garage sales and thrift stores everywhere should have them used for super cheap. And to save even more money, just have your kids go barefoot. No shame in that.

yucky clothes

If you have a shirt that developed an impossible stain or a ripped pair of jeans, keep them in a special container or spot and label them as "yucky" clothes. Yucky clothes are for outdoor play, painting, clay making, and any other completely dirty and disgusting activity. You can keep a small box of old shirts in your kitchen, some by the back door or garage, or even the laundry room. Nobody wants that new Gymboree outfit covered in what you thought was washable paint.

20140310-145649.jpg Carter loves to bite his nails, and a little (or a lot) of dirt, unfortunately, doesn't stop him

give them nothing to do

We have a shed in our backyard and it contains all of our outdoor activities and bikes. But many times, I send the kiddos outside without unlocking the shed. Within seconds, they've created their own game, a project, or have just chosen to swing on the swings or climb a tree. I love not giving my kids direction or any resources and see what they come up with. They are pretty creative creatures.

20140310-145640.jpg Hunter with one of his famous dirt meatballs

the only option is outside

Sometimes, the only option I give my kids is "go outside". I love how outside time is never to be earned or taken away because it's not tangible. It's not a video game to be grounded from, it's not a toy to be broken or taken away from a curious sibling thief. Outside is a place to breathe in the fresh life all around, to hear nature and bask in God's glory. Outside usually kills bad tempers, cabin fever, and sibling quarrels. It's also a great cure for mommy overload as if the children consume some magic potion once they disperse into the yard and somehow forget all the demands and questions they had for mommy.

That's bliss. Now go outside.

-Alicia

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