Summer is upon us, and — thanks to the vaccine rollout — it’s looking more like the “normal” we’re used to. You’ll want to make the most of this summer to make up for the setbacks and missed opportunities of 2020.
Not only is outdoor fun good for that essential Vitamin D, but it’s also a great way to bring the family together. The sunlight and fresh air are calling, but getting outside will require you to take some initiative. Here are a few ways you can get your family outdoors to enjoy all that summer has to offer:
1. Focus on Everyone’s Interests
Don’t rely on the activities that get you outside to get everyone else outdoors, too. Instead, plan activities that cater to every family member’s preferences. For example, gardening might be your thing, but it may cause a lot of grumbling from your kids.
What are your other family members interested in? A game of catch might appeal to a daughter, while some time in the pool will brighten your son’s day. Make sure everyone gets a chance to participate in their preferred activity while everyone else tags along. Be sure to write these on the calendar to avoid any arguments about who got to choose last time.
2. Try Something New
Do you have a bunch of homebodies whose comfort zones reside inside? Make it a goal this summer to experiment with new pastimes. You never know what outdoor activities your family will fall in love with until you give them a try.
Consider giving water sports a go if that’s not a typical part of your summer itinerary. A drive to the lake offers opportunities for boating, beach volleyball, or trying out an inflatable stand-up paddle board. Outdoor sports such as pickleball, ultimate Frisbee, or golf could quickly become family favorites after some experimentation.
Your family can also take turns choosing new activities to try, just as you might be doing now when scheduling known favorites. Tag along with your kids as they play tennis for the first time, and let them accompany you on your attempt at outdoor yoga.
3. Sprinkle in Some Incentives
Kids might resist your efforts to get them outside unless you dangle a carrot in front of them. Incentives are an effective tool for getting kids to be outdoor adventurers when they would rather be playing video games all day.
When your kids want to plug in, make them earn their screen time by spending time outside. A certain span of time outdoors can equate to a set amount of video game time afterward. Make it known that Mario Kart comes after playing outside with siblings or doing chores like mowing the lawn or weeding the garden.
4. Start a Tradition
Strong traditions are hard to break. Develop one with your family members, and getting them outside won’t be a problem. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll have an established outdoor tradition that everyone will remember fondly.
These traditions need not be complicated and certainly shouldn’t be forced. Take a Sunday walk, for example. A walk around the neighborhood can be short and sweet and easily scheduled every week.
Many American families share a tradition of a summer camping trip. This is yet another activity that your family can associate with the season while enjoying time together outside.
5. Go on a Vacation
Speaking of trips, roughly 50% of U.S. adults are planning on taking a vacation this summer. That’s not surprising after the Covid-19 pandemic that kept everyone at home during the summer of 2020. With vaccines becoming more available and cases in decline, you might consider taking a vacation with your family this summer as well.
When planning a family vacation, focus on the outdoor activities you can participate in. Consider hiking through a national park or bodysurfing at the beach. Either option will provide plenty of opportunities to spend time outside rather than in your hotel room wondering what’s for dinner.
If you’re not ready for a full-blown vacation just yet, look for destinations in your region that could warrant a day trip. A short drive might be all it takes to visit a hot spring, county fair, or city zoo. These one-day trips can be just as memorable as a week-long vacation.
6. Gather Family and Friends
The more, the merrier. Planning outdoor excursions with friends and family will get even the most stubborn couch potatoes excited to head outside. They’ll also provide a calendar date to look forward to that mixes up the sometimes repetitive summer days.
A pool party will be so much more fun with cousins, neighbors, and plenty of dads crowding around the grill. An outing to the park will turn into a day trip when kids have friends by their side. Parents will also appreciate being able to spend their outside time relaxing with other adults while the kids keep themselves entertained.
7. Launch a Start-Up Together
Want to instill an entrepreneurial spirit in your kids? Spend this summer launching a start-up together. What starts as a summer activity could end up becoming a successful side gig that pays for all the season’s snow cones.
Popular summer side hustles include lawn mowing, painting, and running a lemonade stand. You could also throw a yard sale into the mix, turning old clothes and forgotten toys into extra cash. Exercise your creative side and sell baked goods at a local farmer’s market or hand-crafted trinkets at an art fair.
8. Take Daily Activities Outside
What activities are you engaging in inside that could be moved outdoors? A family of bookworms might find that reading on the front porch is a nice alternative to reading in the living room or den. It offers the chance to greet passing neighbors as well.
Meals can be eaten outside, especially if you’re grilling to beat the heat in the kitchen. You can even take your movies outdoors by stretching out a white sheet to use as a projector screen. Get creative!
Many of your best summer memories will be made outside the walls of your home. Stretch your limits and make this the best summer yet.