Friday 4 December 2015

Five Ways to Get Outdoors (even in winter)

I love going on adventures and getting lost in nature, but I have to admit I’m more of a nature bunny when the sun is shining. I can cope with snow, wind and a little bit of rain, but this torrential pouring we’ve had lately has really made me want to snuggle up at home. Ebony is at nursery now so half of her day is spent there. I know they spend a lot of time playing outside, but if the weather is bad then it’s not uncommon for her to spend all morning inside. That means it’s down to me to make sure she gets some outdoor fun during the day. Here are five of the ways we force ourselves outdoors in bad weather:

1. Make it routine
We’ve recently fallen into a post-nursery tradition with one of Ebony’s nursery friends. Once they get let out, they run to the park next door. They never make it as far as the playground, but instead spend ages running around in the trees and bushes, collecting twigs and leaves and generally causing mischief. By the time we leave, Ebony is usually covered in nature, with a headband of long grass and mud coated legs. After three hours of nursery dictated fun, I think it’s good for Ebony to get lost in some truly free play with her friend. I love seeing the games they come up with and seeing her burn off some excess energy. We can sometimes be there for an hour before we manage to convince them that it’s time to go home for lunch. This is something we do most days, it requires minimal effort and yet provides that oh-so-important dose of fresh air.

2. Take a friend
If I tried to take Ebony to play in the park myself each day after nursery, I don’t think she’d be that interested. This is mostly because I am rubbish at playing (sorry, but it’s true) and also because I wouldn’t be as willing to get as covered in mud as her friends. One great way to maximise time spent outdoors is to take a friend. Small children love getting lost in imagination games, and where better to do that than the great outdoors? We often meet Ebony’s friends at the park on cold afternoons and none of them seem to notice the cold because they’re so busy having fun with each other.

3. Take equipment
One of Ebony’s most prized possessions is her scooter. She was given her first scooter when she was two, after months of wide-eyed staring at each and every passing child on a scooter. When she first got the scooter, she was incredibly slow. Way slower than walking, though she’d always comment on how fast she’d been scooting. These days, she’s much better on her scooter and I have to run to keep up with her. Taking her scooter (or bike, or roller skates) is a great way to make sure we stay outside longer. She loves speeding around on wheels, and it makes journeys that little bit more interesting (terrifying. Damn roads). Halfords have created this awesome guide to scooter tricks, so you could even take your kids out to learn a few tricks to impress their friends this winter.

4. Have a purpose
Ebony has inherited my love of warmth, blankets and hot drinks, so she’s not always that tempted when I suggest a trip up to the woods. And who can blame her? It’s a steep hill. However, I’ve noticed that if I give a reason for heading up there, she’s much more keen. Ebony loves arts and crafts, so if I suggest walking up there to collect leaves, conquers or twigs to use in a craft project, she’s immediately on board. We wrap up warm to make sure we have fun, and grab a little bucket to collect any bits in. Then when we get back, we get the glue, paints and glitter out and make a mess.

5. Have a backup plan
You can never quite predict how the weather, or children, are going to be on any given day. Sometimes the wind might be stronger than you expected, leaving you all freezing cold. Other days there might be an unexpected torrential downpour when you’re on a bike ride in your summer clothes (this happened once. It was awful.) Other times, your child might be coming down with something and simply not in the mood to get cold (this also happened once. At Delamere Forest. Ebony sobbed for 20 minutes before we gave up and sought refuge at a nearby pub.). It’s just unpredictable, so make sure you have a backup plan. It could be a nearby pub, a change of clothes or a quick way home. Whatever it is, it could save your afternoon. There is nothing worse than being cold, wet and miserable, and having to carry a three year old AND her bike all the way home. Trust me.

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