Most of us are already more than halfway through the summer holidays. For some folks they have probably flown by and for others they may be dragging. Schools in Scotland might even be back in session by now. Either way, most families are looking for new, yet inexpensive things to do together over the final few weeks of summer. Finish the summer outdoors and set the right tone for the next school year.
As you probably already know, it’s important for children to spend time outside and in nature during the holidays. To those families who have already been running around outside – that’s great, keep it up. To those families who are doing their best to find the time, space or budget to get out and about – don’t give up yet. Here are some tips to get outside and have fun without breaking the bank.
Use your neighbourhood
You don’t need to go far to have fun outside with your family. Many of us fall into the trap of thinking summer holiday activities equal big days out, expensive entrance fees and “wow factor” outdoor experiences. While those are all fun and memorable things to do, in reality, most of us don’t have the time nor money to do more than a couple of these activities each summer. Scale things back and remember all the things to do right on your doorstep:
- Try your hand at foraging – go blackberry picking in your local area and take your harvest home to use in a recipe
- Take a hike – now the weather has cooled off, get out and about for a longer walk. Take snacks and make it an adventure!
- Go stream stomping – find your local steam, creek or river and explore it. Children love to paddle, hunt for the perfect stone and build bridges out of the things they find.
- Up the ante on the dog walk – find a new route or make your daily walk into a scavenger hunt with challenges to complete or things to find along the way
- Eat a picnic dinner – instead of a picnic lunch, mix it up and eat your dinner outdoors at your local park or other favourite spot
- Go on a playground hop – visit a few of your local playgrounds back to back with your children. Set a timer at each one for play time before you head to the next one to turn the journey into a game.
Create an summer outdoors bucket list
Talk with your children and come up with a list of things to do outdoors before the summer’s end. Give them parameters such as the distance you’re willing to travel, how many entrance fees (if any) you could pay and how much time there is for activities. Then work together to fit the items in to the schedule and cross them off the list. Get the ball rolling with suggestions such as:
- Play a board game outside
- Learn the names of the trees on the way to the playground using an app/book
- Host a garden dance off with friends
- Play i-spy looking out of the different windows in your home
- Play a team game at the park
- Make a den
Perhaps you could even celebrate with a trip to the park or a special dinner in the garden when you complete the list! Here are some ideas to get you started.
Get in the garden
Most of are busy planting in the garden in the spring, do our best to maintain during the summer and then by the autumn it’s usually clear out time. Definitely get your children involved with weeding, cutting back and turning over soil, but do not forget there’s still time to plant for a winter harvest. Try Christmas potatoes and root vegetables. If you get your act together quickly you may even get one more round of lettuce this summer too!
Use the time you have
Plenty of us have to work during the day in the summer and simply don’t have time to take our children out all day long. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice summer outdoors as a family though. Use your evenings to get out together instead. Take a walk after dinner, eat dinner outside or even camp out overnight in the garden! Embrace the extra daylight and a more relaxed summer schedule to get outside and enjoy some bonus time together.
The act of going outside
Here’s the thing – it’s not really about the activities or events when it comes down to it. The simple act of going outside is when the real benefits and enjoyment kick in. It’s not news that fresh air makes us feel better and that stepping out of doors gives us a boost. So let’s prioritise it with our families.
Where you can take a traditional indoor activity outside such as building blocks or bedtime stories. Sit and talk outside or eat a meal out there. The more time we all spend outdoors the better, it’s beneficial for our physical and mental health, as well as being great fun. In addition, you are establishing a healthy relationship with nature and developing lifelong habits of spending time outside for your children.
End the summer on a high
Make the most of the next few weeks of summer together in whatever way you can. Be flexible on the time of day you go outside and enjoy the simple things. You’ll appreciate the quality time spent together as a family and feel better too. The summer holidays can be as challenging as they are magical for families, so a rethink and reset for the final push may just ensure you end them on a high. Summer outdoors is just wonderful when we take the time to enjoy it!