Prepping for outdoors

Getting "outdoors time" is important all year round.  But if it’s not something you and your family are used to doing, it can be a bit of a hard sell.  So what can you do to make it a more appealing offer?

Kit 3

Before you go:

  • Firstly, do your research. Are there toilets? Does the car park charge?
  • Do you have everything you need? Make your own checklist of your "walking essentials" and pin it to your fridge! Protect them (and you). Hats! Sunscreen! Insect repellent!
  • Consider an adventure backpack – maybe a magnifying glass, binoculars, logbook… anything your child engages with.
  • Buy a bag for collecting “treasure” – we always stick by the rule of “leave no trace” so we don’t pick flowers or anything still living, but we love collecting items off the ground and making things with them when we’re home.
  • “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.” Buy some waterproofs and wellies – for you and your kids.  Elasticated legs are great for kids as it stops the water getting into the wellies (elastic bands over the waterproofs also does the trick).  This means puddles are fair game!
  • Make sure you are ‘tick aware’ – they are nasty little blighters and can be found in woodlands and long grass, mainly in the spring and summer. Consider loose trousers for your kids if walking in these environments.
  • Have an “outdoors bag” in the car – we have a spare set of clothes, wellies, wipes, a towel, first aid kit and a few “long-life” refreshments.
  • I don’t say “we’re going for a walk” – I pitch it as an adventure, or at least say “we’re going on a treasure hunt”.
Kit 2

On the walk:

  • Let them set the pace (this is HARD).  Even then, I’m so guilty of saying “chop chop” – but I try to remember we’re not on a mission and the objective is just to be outdoors and enjoying it.  We therefore don’t go far if there’s any sort of time limit.
  • Go prepared with some activities (see the “Nature activities” page). Maybe make a journey stick, try and look for the colours of the rainbow or do some nature identification using apps such as Seek by iNaturalist.
  • Getting outside is a multi-sensory experience. Try and use all your senses – listen to the birds, smell the sea air, run your hands through the grass, pick some blackberries, watch the sun set.  Soak up all the great stuff the natural world has to offer.
  • Try and have FUN! The outdoors is a great stress-buster. Climb in the tree with them. Jump in the puddles. Buy yourself some sea shoes so that you can go and paddle too!

When you get back:

  • Make sure you dry off any kit, shake out any sand and knock the mud off any shoes – there’s noting worse than getting your kit together for the next trip and finding a really stinky sock in their wellies!
  • Make the return home a nice experience too. Snuggle up under a blanket, have a hot chocolate in the winter or a nice cold drink in the summer
  • Have some fun creating with the items you've found on you walk - maybe some leaf art in the autumn or a mini den for a toy