5 Easy Ways to Bring Back Outside Adventure

5 Easy Ways to Bring Back Outside Adventure

Remember those long, sunny, summer days when you were small? When you couldn't stop, wouldn't stop exploring until your parents convinced you to come in for dinner? Sadly, our kids may not have the same memories. Experts say kids today spend half the time playing outside as their parents did.

We've all heard kids who spend time outside are happier, healthier and more creative. But more city living with new shows, games and phones means kids are exposed to more screen time inside than ever before. As technology pulls us away from the natural world, how can we help Mother Nature compete with what's new? Here are a few easy ideas to make being outside exciting wherever you are... 

1. Go to “the beach”

Bring the best of the beach to your backyard. Water? Check. Inflatable pools are so hot right now that you can find them online for less than the price of puddle jumpers. Sand? Yes. The kinetic kind makes for even better sand castles because it molds, won’t stick to your hands (and absolutely every part of your kids), and never dries out so you can use it again and again. Sun? Plentiful in summer. Just grab your suits. Bonus beach points for a sprinkler or slip ‘n’ slide. Oh, and tropical drinks for everyone.


2. Go to “the mountains”

Part of the excitement when heading for the hills is collecting your gear. Take the kids to an outdoor store like REI to look for (or just at) supplies. Explore aisle after aisle of bright nylon and cool gadgets.  Maybe even treat the kids to something small like a headlamp. Later, set up a tent in the backyard and equip it with all your outdoor items. Make hot dogs and s’mores in the microwave. Tell stories under the stars. Sleep in your sleeping bags – and still sneak in to go to the bathroom.


3. Go to “a foreign country”

You don’t always need to take a long flight to venture to a new country and culture. Indulge your culinary curiosity and make a few new foods. For instance, Argentine empanadas are a cinch to make with pizza dough and kids’ favorite fillings from savory meats to fruity sweets. Visit the library to find a few books or movies about Argentina to learn more about the place, people, history, food and drinks. Then enjoy your authentic meal al fresco with fun candles or party lights.

4. Go to “Disney

Instead of venturing all the way to the Sunshine State, encourage the kids to dress up as or bring out their favorite Disney characters. You can find a mini movie projector for as much as movie theatre tickets for a family of four. Add a sheet and fire up your home theatre. Make a nest of blankets outside and enjoy a Disney classic with some theme snacks. Better yet, kick off the magical night by showing a glimpse of the Enchanted Tiki Room with a homemade Dole Whip – no lines required!


5. Go to “the Olympics”

Why wait another two years for the Summer Olympics? Divide the kids and their friends into teams, and ask them to come up with names and uniforms. Then organize some DIY activities. You can play Twister with circle stencils and spray painted grass or Memory with painted cork tiles. You can also compete in Outdoor Pictionary with driveway drawings and a Balloon Toss to cool off. Come evening, get crazy with Glow-in-the-Dark Bowling using glow sticks in water bottles. Let the games begin...


The Expert's Travel Snacks We Need

The Expert's Travel Snacks We Need

Ever wonder which snacks a dietitian packs for her family when they're on the go? Meet Lindy Lemieux, pediatric dietitian at the Denver Children's Hospital and amazing mom of two. Read on to find out what she recommends for her kids, husband and us, too! 


If your kids are anything like mine, they will successfully eat an entire day's worth of calories over the course of a four-hour plane ride. We need healthy snacks that don't take up too much room in a carry-on, don't rot or get soggy, and don't make me feel guilty halfway through the trip. These are a few of my favorites:

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* Carrots or celery (add nut butter for fun dipping)
* Fresh fruits (pick what's durable and won't get smooshed)
* Trail mix (easily make your own with bulk ingredients)
* Lara Bars or RXBars (the best are kids' favorite flavors)
* Crunchy chick peas (better than chips or pretzels, but still crunchy!)
* Jerky (lots of protein!)
* Babybel cheese (won't go bad or get soggy as fast as most cheeses)
* Nut and nut clusters (filling and yummy!)

Want a Successful Trip With Kids? Do This One Thing.

Want a Successful Trip With Kids? Do This One Thing.

Whether you're going to the grocery store or on a long flight with kids, there is one thing you should do to increase your chances of success: set expectations.

The Babywise book series says, “children will rise to the expectations of their parents.” Kids are capable of much more than we think. So spell out the plan and explain what's required of them.

If you’re headed to the store together, talk through the process. Explain what you expect them to do (sit in the cart or politely steer their own, pick the perfect peach, find the best-smelling tulips, etc.).


For bigger trips, give them the travel rundown and again, explain what you expect them to do (help pack, go quietly through security, board the plane, take care of a sibling as an airplane buddy). Demonstrate complexities like putting luggage on the conveyor belt or act out buckling the seat belt.


For a more exciting setup, take a tip from Finding Nemo with something like, "Alright, little dudes, we're gonna to have a great flight today! Find your airplane buddy! Do you have your airplane buddy...?" 

Like Marlin, kids may not understand every instruction, but if they have a rundown of proper etiquette and an idea about our expectations for them, they’ll be better able to meet and exceed them.