Getting outside is a foolproof plan to keep you and your kids happy and sane. So pry those kiddos away from the Xbox and extricate them from the latest Youtube videos because it’s not time to hunker down indoors.
We spend many a day toting water bottles and packing bug spray as we venture with our crews into The Great Outdoors. We would not marinate in DEET or unleash our inner pack mule if we didn’t think the payout was worth the effort.
1. Nature is a top-notch noise buffer.
On our latest hike, my sister-in-law Kim said, without any trace of irony, as her children screeched past with their thundering herd of cousins, “I prefer to parent outside.”
We totally get what she means. Nature is the ultimate white noise: no pesky walls to bounce back annoying sibling smacktalk or worse.
Besides, when you are outside, you can always hang back and pretend all that noise is coming from someone else’s kid.
2. Nature brings out their creativity.
There is nothing like wide open spaces and some cool finds along the trail to bring out their inner woodland fairy or superhero.
3. Nature is the ultimate arena.
We are extremely lucky to live a stone’s throw from a great state park that participates in Maryland’s Parkquest, but our experience hiking and camping all over our local environs is that every park has some kind of fun to offer. Frisbee golf and geocaching are the most common games we have found, but you won’t know until you go (or check their website).
4. Hiking is a great workout.
Simply putting one foot in front of the other for three to six miles will make you feel so much better about all those extra ice cream cones and hot dogs you have been consuming on behalf of summer fun. Of course, finding a copper head on the trail might accelerate your heart rate a bit but that just means you can have the sprinkles, right?
5. Some of the very best places you can’t get to by car.
Marco Polo will have nothing on you and all you need is a pair of hiking boots or sneakers.
6. The view from the top.
It works literally and as a metaphor. Take your kids up a mountain and let them see the reward of all that hard work for themselves.
7. There will be moments that melt your heart.
Teens and tweens aren’t always cute and cuddly any more, but stick them on a trail and they surprise you in the best ways. We have also found that a trail is a great place to talk — kind of like the car but without all the smelly sneakers and sports gear fumes.
And of course. . .
Memories that will last forever.
CONTINUE READING IN THE BACKYARD
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