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Top 10 Fun Outdoor Activities to Get your Kids off the Couch

Top 10 Fun Outdoor Activities to Get your Kids off the Couch

As childhood obesity rates continue to rise, it’s becoming more and more important to get those kids off the couch. Like you need an excuse! Outdoor activities are oftentimes the most memorable, both for children and adults.

Outdoors, you’ll have experiences that engage all of the senses. The deep green of a pine forest, the sharp, bright scent of pine needles, the rugged texture of bark, the sweet yet bitter taste of cocoa from a thermos, the sound of rust-orange needles crunching beneath the feet…

There’s only so much a computer screen can teach kids. The rest – the unbidden lessons that engage the entire being – come from nature.

  1. Treasure hunting

treasuremap

    If you think about it, hunting for treasure is every kid’s dream. Ever seen The Goonies? That’s what I thought. Bury some fake doubloons and create your own map, pirate-style. Then set off on an adventure. Or, if you want to get official, there are metal detectors made for kids. Take them on a real hunt for coins, lost jewelry, and trinkets. A great educational exercise is to research the area first before you take them out. You’ll learn a great deal of history and geography. When you’re actually hunting, you’ll notice geographical features you never noticed before.

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    1. Surfing

    kidsurf

      This is another activity kids love, but for many, it’s just a pipe-dream. Why not change that for your child? Kids make for great surfers because it’s a high energy sport and kids have less fear than adults. To kids, surfers are just plain cool. Contrary to the typical image, surfing’s not all about twenty-foot waves and beach-bumming it. Start small. Consult surfing tips for beginners. Find a used board at least one foot taller than your child (and yourself, since you’ll be doing it too!). A wetsuit is important because you’ll be spending a lot of time in the water. Find a less crowded area. You might want to hire an instructor. Then go, and if your kid likes it, why no make it a regular thing?

      1. Camp

      kidscamp

        Yes, kids act like they don’t want to go to a camp. But you don’t always have to listen to the complaints – in this case, complaints stem from a fear of the unknown. Great memories come from camp, and the bad ones, well, they give your kid a story to tell and adversity to overcome. But it does help to put careful thought into which camp is right for your child. Consider tips on finding the right camp. There are over 11,000 camps in the U.S., so you’ll want to think about whether it should be co-ed, religious, sports-oriented, highly structured, lengthy, etc.

        1. Fishing

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        kidfish

          I don’t know what it is about fishing, but many a kid has a knack for it. The whole beginner’s luck cliché rings true. Kids don’t try too hard when they fish, and if you’ve ever been fishing before, you know trying too hard doesn’t work.  To get your kid interested in fishing, don’t overwhelm them with an intense, hard, long experience. Provide them with polarized glasses, which eliminate glare on the water. Take them out on a nice day, bring snacks, plan ahead, and if you’re fly-fishing, check out a Tenkara rod. They’re simple—rod, line, fly—the easiest fly rod to learn on.

          1. Fort-building

          fort

            A fort can be as big or little as you want, depending on how big or little your kid is. Do it in your backyard, or do it in the wilderness. The backyard fort is as simple as sheets over a lower branch or a clothesline. Or use scrap wood and nail together a basic hut. In the woods, gather branches and create a lean-to. Kids love forts so much because their imagination knows no bounds.

            1. Horseback riding

            horseback

              Whether your kid is old enough to hop on a horse, or at pony-riding age, this is an exciting activity for kids. Doubtless, you remember the connection you shared with animals as a child. Horseback riding takes that connection to the trail and gives them a chance to learn about these magnificent animals. Before you put them on a trail horse, consider lessons and whether or not they’re ready. Get professional input, and help them understand the sensitivities of horses. Once they’re ready, riding can help them build confidence, strength, coordination, and focus.

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              1. Canoeing

              canoe

                Find a river or lake, hopefully, one with an island, and take off on a canoe. This is the type of adventure any kid wants to experience. Time on the water with just you and your child is peak quality time. Make sure you bring life vests in case the unexpected happens. Also bring snacks, lunch, and basic survival supplies. Give your kid a chance to row. Especially if your child has never done this before, you won’t believe their enthusiasm.

                1. Building and flying a kite

                kite

                  The great thing about flying a kite is that it doesn’t take a lot to build one. Get a plastic bag, kite string, two sticks, scissors, and ribbon. Tie the sticks together like a cross, then cut the bag in a diamond shape to fit. Tie the bag to the frame. Tie the flying string onto the horizontal stick. On the end of the kite, tie ribbon for balance. Then, find a windy place and let it go! This actually takes a lot of practice and work with the wind, but it’s a blast.

                  1. Touring the zoo

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                  zoo

                    This is a great chance for kids to learn about different animals, and it’s a classic activity for kids. It’s also a great chance for you to let them make up their own mind on whether they agree with the idea of zoos, to begin with. At the end of the day, the zoo requires a lot of walking and a lot of observation. These are both good for kids.

                    1. Hiking

                    hike

                      Can’t forget this one! Hiking is fun for young and old. There are some fantastic destinations for hikes, such as Yosemite’s Valley Floor Loop, the Appalachian Trail, Jay Peak, and more. These can be the focal point of your next vacation. Find a hiking stick for yourself and your child, all the better if it’s a stick you whittle until it’s smooth. Get the supplies and set off to immerse yourself in nature, in the engagement of all your senses. You and your child will never forget the experiences you have on your hikes.

                      Featured photo credit: flickr.com via flickr.com

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                      Daniel Matthews, CPRP

                      A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

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                      Published on December 14, 2018

                      14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

                      14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

                      According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 27% of children under the age of 18 are living with a single parent.[1] That’s over 1/4th of the U.S. population.There is a common misconception that children who grow up in single parent homes are not as successful as children living in two-parent homes.

                      One crucial detail that was often left out of studies when comparing single and two-parent homes was the stability of the household. There is a correlation between family structure and family stability, but this study shows that children who grow up in stable single-parent homes do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior.

                      But providing stability is easier said than done. With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

                      1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

                      Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

                      Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

                      Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

                      2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

                      At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

                      Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice, through Facebook or sites like Single Mom Nation.

                      Although single moms make up the majority of single parents, there are more than 2.6 million single dads in the U.S. A great way to connect is through Meetup. Other single parents will more than happy to arrange babysitting swaps, playdates, and carpools.

                      Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

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                      3. Build a Community

                      In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

                      Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

                      4. Accept Help

                      Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

                      There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

                      5. Get Creative with Childcare

                      Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

                      If you have space and live in a college town, offer a college student housing in exchange for regular childcare. Or swap kids with other single parents so that your kids have friends to play with while the parents get time to themselves.

                      When I was younger, my parents had a group of five family friends, and all of the children would rotate to a different house each day of the week, during the summer months. The kids would have a great time playing with each other, and the parents’ job becomes a lot easier. That’s what you would call a win-win situation.

                      6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

                      As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

                      Look into whether or not your area offers emergency babysitting services or a drop-in daycare. Knowing who will be able to care for your child in the event of an emergency can relieve one potential source of anxiety in stressful situations.

                      7. Create a Routine

                      Routines are crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

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                      If the child travels between homes or has multiple caretakers, life can seem extremely chaotic and unpredictable. Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

                      Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

                      8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

                      If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

                      When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

                      This article may help you to discipline your child better:

                      How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

                      9. Stay Positive

                      Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

                      Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

                      Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

                      10. Move Past the Guilt

                      In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

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                      Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

                      Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

                      11. Answer Questions Honestly

                      Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

                      Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

                      Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

                      12. Treat Kids Like Kids

                      In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

                      There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

                      Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

                      13. Find Role Models

                      Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

                      Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

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                      Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

                      14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

                      Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

                      Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

                      Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

                      Final Thoughts

                      Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

                      However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

                      Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

                      More Resources About Parenting

                      Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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