My kids are way better behaved after a trip to the park, but unfortunately are a little like me and much prefer to be snug and warm inside.
After a few too many tantrums, I’ve vowed to toughen us all up and get outdoors. It’s not always easy when the parks are wet or icy, so we’re thinking outside the box and tempting them to put their best foot forward, even if it’s onto the snow.
This year, there’s the 1,000-Hours-Outside Challenge if you need more inspiration.
Encouraging families to spend 1,000 hours out in nature this year, the challenge was created by mum-of-five Ginny, and her husband Josh. They did some research and found out the ideal amount of time children should spend outside is between 4 and 6 hours PER DAY.
Ginny now writes a blog where she explains more about the challenge and how to go about it, and there’s a UK-based Facebook Grouphere. You can also download a tracker sheet here.
Make sure they’re warm enough: Mine are often beaten by cold fingers and toes, so we’ve swapped wellies for snow boots and invested in waterproof ski gloves. More tips for keeping kids cozy here:
Pack a flask of hot chocolate: We have some camping cups that we take along so when the going gets tough we can sit down and warm up with a treat. Sometimes we take mini marshmallows too.
Play games: Running around does wonders for warming them up and is fun for the grown ups too! My older two like What Time is it, Mr Wolf? Peter Rabbit (the kids pretend to be Lily and Peter and Daddy chases them as Mr McGregor) is a firm favourite too.
Take crafts outside: Want to paint? Bundle up and take it outside. You can paint on paper or leaves and twigs from the garden. You could glue and stick things from nature and make nature faces or animals.
Make a nature bracelet: My big girl and her friends enjoy wrapping sticky tape around their wrists and adding bits and pieces as they walk along. You would have to do this over their coats, but it still works.
Build a den: Head to the woods and make a den with whatever you can find. Take an old blanket with you and maybe some books, a torch or lantern and hot chocolate, so when you’re done you can snuggle up with a drink and share a story. Even better if it’s one you can act out to get you all running around!
Set up a treasure hunt! You could do this in the woods or in your garden, writing clues and setting them out with treasure to find at the end. Chocolate coins are fabulous to hide under the leaves.
Build a mud kitchen: It can be as simple as taking a few old pots and pans outdoors, then let the kids cook up some muddy treats or have a tea party for the fairies.
Attend an organised outdoor event: We have done some Forgotten Forest’s events as a family and always had lots of fun. As soon as we forget about the cold the kids are running about swinging in hammocks and toasting marshmallows on the campfire. Sarah runs some fabulous events, and it’s a great way to pass the weekend.
Make a nature trail: There are plenty of trails you can print out online, or ask your kids to make their own. We’ve found clipboards really helpful to stop pieces of paper flying into puddles and crayons are better than pens when it’s raining. I Spy is a good game for getting them to notice nature
Take Walkie Talkies – My sister-in-law gave her boys a walkie talkie when she was heavily pregnant and visiting Manor Heath. It was genius! She could rest and the boys had a blast running in and out of the bushes pretending they were on a top secret mission and she could call them in at any minute!
NEW PLACES TO VISIT
We asked Sarah of Walking With Kids about her favourite places to take her little ones She shared her top 20 – in no particular order – and has written about them all on her WWK Facebook page:
Bolton Abbey, Skipton
Hollingworth Lake, Littleborough
Standedge Tunnel, Marsden
Greenhead Park, Huddersfield
Golden Acre Country Park, Leeds
Pugneys Country Park, Wakefield
Yeadon Tarn, Leeds
Cliffe Castle Park, Keighley
Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds
Roundhay Park, Leeds
National Coal Mining Museum, Wakefield
Shibden Park, Halifax
Anglers Country Park, Wakefield (The Room on the Broom trail is fabulous!)