In our increasingly busy world in which we're preoccupied with work, school and social commitments, it's more important than ever before to carve out time to spend as a family. Plus, with screens capturing so much of our attention, we often find ourselves reluctant to get outside in nature, despite it being vitally important for our mental health.
If you're looking for activities to get you and the kids out of the house and spending quality time together, try these three family-friendly options.
1. Forest walks
Forest bathing – the process of quietly and peacefully spending time amongst trees – is proven to be beneficial for our physical and mental health. Studies have found that forest bathing reduces blood pressure and heart rate in people with hypertension, and reduces anger, stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with a range of health issues.
Positive impacts of forest therapy have been seen in both children and adults alike. Long walks are always a great form of exercise and those taken in forests give kids the opportunity to explore new environments and learn about wildlife. Look out for nature walk opportunities with forest rangers who can teach kids about the forest ecosystem.
For an excuse to get outdoors on an almost daily basis, get busy in your own garden. Gardening is a brilliant way to teach kids responsibility as they learn how to nurture the plants in their own backyard. Plus, the process of getting hands-on with soil, leaves, petals and tools is a great way for children to develop their motor skills and learn about nature.
As reported in this guide to how outdoor learning benefits child development, 30% to 40% of kids are kinesthetic learners, which means that they pick up new information most effectively through touch and physical stimuli. Gardening is a very tactile experience that engages all the senses, so it's a brilliant way to capture kids' attention as they learn about plants.
3. Camping holidays
Camping is a great option for family holidays because it's affordable and a great way to immerse yourself in nature. Kids have a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills such as pitching tents, starting campfires and cooking basic dishes over an open flame (with parental supervision). This can help them to become more resourceful and better appreciate home comforts that they might otherwise take for granted.
If your family frequently finds itself staring at individual screens instead of interacting, a camping trip is a great way to take a break from these habits. With limited access to electricity to charge devices, you can encourage kids to find more active ways to keep themselves entertained and use the opportunity to interact and reconnect as a family.
Teach kids the value of nature with family outings
Nature is incredibly valuable for our physical and mental wellbeing, so it's really important to teach kids the value of spending time outside. By showing your children how to enjoy the great outdoors now, you can help them develop healthy habits that they'll hopefully hang on to right into adulthood.