Do you have a bookworm in the family? How about a gamer or extreme introvert? Do you struggle getting them to see anything other than words on a page/tablet or graphics on a screen? Do they hiss when sunlight touches them? If your answer to any of these questions was a resounding “YES!”, I have some solutions for you!
Firstly, get that vampire some sunscreen because that kid is going to need it!
Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you a short story of my own struggles. I have two children. One is eight years old and the other is four years old. Neither one likes going outside, especially in this hot Houston weather! The oldest has taken up creating movie monsters out of clay (mainly the ones that he can’t find toys for) and my youngest is a gaming wizard. They have things to help develop their minds but I always felt like they were missing out on the good ole days when we could be outside until the street lights came on without fear for their safety. Technology was turning their brains to mush, right? Wrong.
As they were growing, I realized that the idea I had for them going outside consisted of only them. I had no thoughts to enjoy the weather myself or run and play with them. My idea of fun, outside time for them, sounded like a misery to me. When had I lost the enthusiasm for the outdoors that I used to love? The pandemic really drove the point home when there wasn’t much to do anymore (even more so when we went into lockdown) and no others kids for them to play with. "Playing outside is an essential part of growing up", I thought. I started paying more attention to my kids and kicked myself for not listening to past teachings about child mimics.
It dawned on me that my kids did not enjoy going outside because I gave them no reason to enjoy it. I had poured my all, every day, into my job. A job that did not appreciate me or my effort. A job that took me away from home for more than 40+ hours a week. No time or energy left for my children. I vowed to make a change. So…
I WENT TO THE LIBRARY.
Now, this may seem counterproductive, but I assure you that I had a very good reason for doing so. I had NO CLUE where to start in this process. I did not know where my weaknesses in teaching my kids about outside, the world, and their imagination were for me to even get started. Thankfully, my local library had it all and I was able to start learning new things about myself and my children that were wildly successful in getting us out the door. I was also able to find out about programming that was inclusive and resources that could guide me in the right direction.
What does any of that have to do with getting my kids to go outside? A lot actually. Being able to get your own mind organized and figured out can be the first step into developing your dependent’s enthusiasm for even the smallest things. Kids can be devastatingly fragile and can be affected by any change in their central environment, no matter how minute. They can also be incredibly resilient and are often open to new things if given the right motivation.
So, where does that motivation come from, you ask? YOU. Y. O. U.
It all starts with you, the parent. Your success becomes their success. The same with your failures. I can give you a number of books (and still plan to) that list activity after activity after activity but they will be of no value to you if you cannot properly communicate and reach your child. Telling them to go outside with absolutely no motivation or goal in mind could work in the long run but it will not inspire them to repeat the act. See, the first step into stepping outside is actually stepping inside (your mind).
While I will list books about WHAT to do when you go outdoors, I am mainly here to show you HOW to get there first. This past year has been daunting and I KNOW many of you have struggled long before that. That’s not to say that this will get any easier with the amount of time we’ve had to ponder on what exactly it is that we are doing with ourselves during this new downtime. I understand that there will still be work and there will still be school and many other variables that will prove to be obstacles on your path, but be at ease in the fact that the library has more going on than ever before and has got your back while you are figuring it out.
Click HERE for tips on how to focus yourself mentally before starting on this journey.
Where do we start then? We start anywhere. Anywhere that has us focusing on understanding not only our children, but ourselves better. I started with Why Will No One Play with Me? I assumed, at first and with really good reason, that the reason my son didn’t want to go outside was because he was having trouble talking to other kids. After reading this book, I found that I actually understood MYSELF and my own lonely childhood better. In turn, that opened my eyes to so many possible solutions and obstacles to the socializing aspect of parenting. It gave me strategies on working with my children, how best to deal with their emotions, and how to guide them into better behaviors.
I found out that there are many aspects of having a family that is similar to leading a team. A team of coworkers that you educate and train and give a positive example for. If you are stressing, the team is stressing. If you berate going outside because you are too tired or lazy, same with your team. You First: Inspire Your Team to Grow Up, Get Along, and Get Stuff Done is a great book to help you get into that mind set. This book shows you how you can change your teams perspective and team build from any seat at the table. Even without support from your partners!
Get Up and Go! helps you get motivated to enjoy your hobbies again. It’s encouraging narration explains the benefits of going outside and making new friends. It states that your body is a temple and needs to be treated as such. You definitely need to take care of yourself and your own mental health before trying to help others. You’ll be no good to someone if you are not in the best of moods, right? Taking some personal time to get yourself “right in the head” is a big must every day. Click on the cover for more information!
Now that we have a basis for starting, take a look at our overdrive collections on outdoor activities and getting motivated:
What are some things that you do to help get you up and going? What advice would you give to someone that might be too overwhelmed to start? Comment below to give your support to those trying real hard right now!