The weather has cooled and it’s the time of year we all want to be outside! I heard a quote that goes, “There’s no bad weather, only the wrong clothes.” I’m thinking whoever said that didn’t live in Oklahoma during July. October, however, makes us all wish to spend all our waking moments outside.
The more science studies children, the more it tells us what children intuitively know. Being outside is so good for them. Running, slamming their little bodies into the ground, dragging limbs twice their size and carrying heavy stones somehow aids in their development in a way that we are just beginning to understand.
While it’s good to be outside with our little people, sometimes it’s hard to think of things to do that allow them to move slowly enough but not to bore us to tears. Here are three ideas that will keep you all busy and having fun!
- Have you been to Bluff Creek trails? Technically, they are bike trails. I find that it feels enough like exploring the woods that children love it. I have made this color wheel and we spend an hour or two filling it with our foliage finds. We did a short hike with my sister and her adult daughter, and I kid you not, we adults had as much fun filling out the color wheel as the kids did. I plan to make another one with winter and spring colors to expand the fun. I also do seasonal scavenger hunts. CHALLENGE: Take it to the next level by hiking at Lake Arcadia or climb Boulder Mountain at Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge.
- Plant a fall garden. It’s not too late to get a little lettuce into the ground and maybe winter over some carrots and cilantro! Digging in the dirt barefoot is about the most soothing thing my kids and I do together. My mother-in-law told me shortly after the birth of our first son, “Plant a garden. You’re going to be spending hours outside with them anyway, you might as well have fun with it!” And have we ever had fun with it in the seven years since! CHALLENGE: Take it to the next level by planting some bushes or trees. Fall is the perfect time to get some larger things started.
- Go camping or have a backyard bonfire. A couple years ago we packed up our two toddlers and took a nine-day tent camping trip to Yellowstone. The routine of putting up and taking down the tent gave us time with our kids in a new way. Maybe you’re not up for a nine-day trip, but what if you tried an overnight trip to the Wichita Mountains, Red Rock Canyon or Sulphur? (If you’re stumped and need recipes and such, I have created some pretty delicious camping menus). SCALE BACK: If you’re not ready for full-blown camping, try building a fire with your kids in a backyard fire pit! I’m not sure what it is about kids and fire, but it’s bound to put them in a good mood.
If you know you need to get your kids out of the house more, fall is the perfect time to start trying some new things that could be life-changing routines!