For busy, active dads who like to keep their kids on the go, getting your kids ready for spring activities is easier said than done in the dreary months of late winter and early spring. If you live somewhere that brings cold, rainy or even snowy spring weather, you might be itching to find some outdoor activities to beat cabin fever and get kids more active in preparation for the warmer months.
Wel,l guess what?
Just because spring isn’t yet here doesn't mean that you and your children can't get outside to enjoy nature before warmer weather commences. Here's a look at some outdoor activities to keep kids active outdoors — even when spring hasn’t arrived.
Enjoying nature is one of the most soothing things you can do. Studies show that spending time in nature benefits your mental health, bringing greater amounts of relaxation and stress reduction than many other typically “relaxing” activities. There’s no reason to assume these benefits don’t extend to kids as well.
To get the real value out of a nature walk, invite kids to pick up pinecones and fallen leaves, and note their characteristics to learn more about them. Have them point out (but not pick!) flowers and mushrooms, and try to identify wildlife. Fun for the whole family!
If you live in the city, don’t stress. There are still ways to get outdoors with your kiddos that don’t involve going on vacation or driving for hours to the nearest nature preserve.
Walking is good for you no matter where you are, so try some urban hiking on for size.
Many cities these days have predefined walking routes that showcase historic architecture; notable green spaces where you can stop so the kids can take a tag break; and fun places to eat or scope out attractions like rivers, zoos or merry-go-rounds.
Just remember — if you sign up for a several-hour walk — wear sturdier shoes than you would for nature walking and keep safety at the forefront of your mind.
Nice weather simply isn’t necessary to the enjoyment of a good play structure. If your kids have been itching to get outside but you’re not sure where to take them, head to a playground. The ground beneath playgrounds is usually composed of rubber pads, asphalt or bark chips, so you don’t need to worry about mud. As an added bonus, when the sun is hiding, you’ll often get the structure to yourself.
There are a few approaches you can take at the park or schoolyard: Simply let the kids go while you listen to a podcast and keep an eye on them. Or you can interact with them, playing a game like lava monster — you’ll get them if they touch the ground! Whatever the case, making sure they get lots of exercise should be the highest priority.
Gardening is a classic early-spring activity. Long before warmer weather rolls in, it’s time to break out rakes to pick up winter leaves, trowels to dig up last year’s annuals and vegetables, and seeds to get early edibles going: peas, radishes, and broccoli.
Not only do many parents and kiddos enjoy gardening, it’s extremely good for you, says Michigan State University.
In addition to reducing the chance of obesity and improving mental health, gardening is relaxing and helps us engage with our human roots. Plus, kids get great satisfaction from eating produce they’ve grown themselves.
Talk about making lemonade out of lemons — if you just can’t get that rain to stop, use it to your advantage. After all, nothing says childhood like putting on a pair of sturdy galoshes and splashing through puddles.
Before heading out though, make sure you are either close to home or bring a change of clothing. While kiddos love the act of jumping into deep standing water, they sure don’t love being damp and cold afterward. Plan ahead and everyone will be happier in the long run.
By embracing the tips mentioned above, there’s plenty to do, even while the weather continues to wear on you.
Getting kids — and yourself — outdoors can significantly improve your frame of mind, make you feel more energized, and help the whole family gear up for warmer months.