Along with the enjoyment my kids and I get from our time in nature, the outdoors has taught us so much about the world around us. My kids are definitely more confident in their abilities and have learned how to do hard things, how to push themselves, and that sometimes you need to push and sometimes it’s ok to quit. And since it’s not always easy to make time to go outdoors and plan for food/activities, it’s taught me how important it is to schedule time outdoors in my planner. I set goals every year of how many hikes I want to go on and it helps me focus my energy on those tasks. The kids have learned to do the same and set their own goals. Maybe the biggest lesson I’ve learned from going outside is that in the end, the extra effort is always worth it.
The outdoors completely changed my family. As with any family, we all have our own wants and agendas, but when we’re hiking outside, we have a shared direction and united purpose. We’ve learned how we can work together better and how to get along, even when one or two of us are having a moment. We’ve also learned that we all have important roles in our family, and we are the happiest when we are working together and cheering each other on. I’ve never felt closer to my kids as when we’re sharing a special moment outside together – and I know they feel the same.
Work, school, life, there are so many things going on in all of our lives. It can be hard to take the time to really connect and appreciate our surroundings – and each other. Getting outdoors and leaving the screens and distractions behind, really forces us to focus on what’s happening now. Thanks to those times spent outdoors, I’ve grown as a person and a mom, and the individual relationships between my kids and I have never been stronger. I cherish the special hikes with each of them – and know how important it is for them to have individual time with their mom. I focus on listening to them and savor those moments when they open up and share their feelings. The outside has a power to let us truly be ourselves and being able to see my kids in this way, has been the best part of it all.
Like any family, getting outdoors is not always so cheerful. Ok, sometimes it’s a disaster. Sometimes you lose your cool. Sometimes they have a horrible attitude. But I’ve learned that after they leave the house and get the chance to be with you and do it, those moments meant something to them. They treasure them because it was your time and love that you were giving. Last year when we had to stay home, we started a garden. Even just sitting in the backyard and working together and watching everything grow, those small moments have a huge impact. The kids remember when you camp in the backyard, when you make smores over the stove, when you use the veggies they’ve grown in their favorite meal. The trail that’s a mile away from our house has become their favorite hike because we always have time to talk and have great conversations. Often these are the things that mean the most...and that’s what they’ll remember most, even when they become adults themselves.
Our kids are watching us all the time, even when we think they aren’t. They see our ups and downs, our good moods, our bad moods, and sometimes any negativity we display can find their way into their own perspectives of the world. And since the most important thing in a mom’s life is for our kids to be happy, sometimes it’s worth reminding ourselves that your own happiness can have an impact on theirs. Being outside has brought me so much joy – and my kids can see that. And because I have found something that I love, something that fulfills me that I want to share, those feelings of natural joy extend to my family. My kids see a happy and fulfilled mom, they see me tackle tough trails and life’s obstacles with a positive attitude, and they see how important it is to take time to smell the roses and be together. The happiness I get from being outdoors allows me to help my kids be happier kids.