1. Schedule it!
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.”
~ Charles Buxton
Take the plunge and write some outdoor time into your schedule, even if it is a small chunk of time every day.
Even 10 or 15 minutes of purposeful time in nature can refresh your soul, provide you with beautiful and refreshing sights and sounds, increase your creativity, and work towards improving your health by boosting your immune system.
2. Use the right equipment
Your enjoyment, and therefore, the success of your time in nature will be greatly impacted by your choice of equipment.
- Going for a run with the baby? Find a quality running stroller
- Hiking a steep climb with a toddler? They will tire out at some point, and a hiking backpack makes all the difference in your ability to get to the summit.
- Spending some time by a shaded creek? Don’t forget the bug repellent! (we have had many a short stay at a creek because of the inevitable mosquitoes)
3. Wear the right clothes
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
Rain. Snow. Hail.
It is fascinating to watch the changes in the weather if you are prepared. And who doesn’t like to jump in puddles with a good pair of rain boots?
If you observe the wildlife during a storm, you will see birds moving faster, shifting their wings, singing quick songs, and seeming to dance in the rain. Foxes, deer, rabbits, and squirrels might all be dashing for the cover of a den.
There is a great enjoyment to be gained during inclement weather if you take the time to go outside with suitable clothing.
4. Treat yourself
- Take a warm drink outside in the winter
- Enjoy a refreshing icy drink in the heat of summer
- Eat a picnic with family and friends
- Pack some cookies or fresh fruit for a fun snack in the middle of a walk
We all look forward to special treats, and saving it for your outdoor time can help motivate you to keep getting outside to enjoy nature.
5. Prior Packing!
“To be prepared is half the victory.”
~Miguel De Cervantes
For those special trips, prepare ahead of time. Pack clothing, food, equipment, and anything else you might need for that specific destination.
Prior packing gives you freedom for more spontaneous times in nature!
Running errands and something doesn’t take as long as you planned? Stop at a park or nature trail because you already have hiking boots, play clothes, or extra snacks stashed in your car.
Here are some ideas for prior packing:
- Bug spray
- Non-perishable snacks
- Extra towels
- Changes of clothes
- Hiking boots
- Extra socks
- Extra water and water bottles
- Field guides
“To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.”
~ Mary Davis
Be intentional about inspiring your appreciation of nature with personal learning.
Picture books written by naturalists and full of beautiful illustrations and tidbits of information are a great way for kids to learn about the outdoors. Before you know it, your kids will be exploring and telling you what they see.
Here are some ways to use books and other resources to fuel your outdoor time:
- Use a field guide or app to begin identifying all the trees on your daily walk, one at a time.
- Start bird watching, and slowly identify the birds that you see by size, markings, and song.
- Notice how the ecosystems in your area change with the seasons.
- Dedicate the next springtime to begin learning wildflower names, looking them up in a field guide as you encounter them.
- Take a camera along on your walks and take pictures of your favorite things to identify later.
- Read about other naturalists and explorers
- Watch movies about your favorite wildlife
7. Hold space
“Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.”
~ Frank Borman
Be careful not to fill every moment of outside time with scheduled activity. Hold space for exploration and free play. Even adults need space for pause and reflection.
8. Community – meet up with other families, hiking groups, friends, etc
Depending on where you live, there may be options for finding a community of people that share your passion for the outdoors.
Here are some ideas of what to look for:
- Hiking, biking, running groups (Hike it Baby is a popular one for young families)
- Forest schools
- Community classes
- Volunteer groups that help maintain trails
- State and National parks near you with tours or educational programs
- Community gardens
- Local wildlife refuge centers
- Local farms
9. Try barefoot
“You learn a lot when you’re barefoot. The first thing is every step you take is different.”
~ Michael Franti
When was the last time you simply walked in the grass or waded in a creek barefoot?
Going barefoot is a multi-sensory experience that can leave you feeling more grounded and in tune with the world you live in.
10. Special place
“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”
~ Gary Snyder
Find a special spot to sit and revisit it often. Notice the changing seasons as you sit in a familiar spot. You may be surprised at the changes in wildlife if you are consistent. Birds, squirrels, and other critters get to know you and more boldly show themselves as time goes on.
“Gardening is the purest of human pleasures.”
~ Francis Bacon
There is no doubt growing a garden gets you outside more. And there is something therapeutic about tending to a living thing and reaping a harvest.
12. Bring Nature Inside
- Indoor gardens
- Living walls
- Biophilic design
- Indoor nature areas (observation window, telescope, binoculars, a place to display outdoor treasures)
- Pets, even small ones
13. Stack that habit!
“Each choice starts a behavior that over time becomes a habit.”
~ Darren Hardy
New habits can be hard to form. But it becomes a lot easier when you pair that new habit with something you already consistently do. This is called habit stacking.
For example, go outside with your morning cup of coffee, fold your clothes at the back picnic table, or take a meal outdoors.
It is easy to remember a new habit when you pair it with a well established one.
14. Outdoor living space
We added a picnic table to our backyard this year, and it is amazing the difference that it makes in the amount of time that we spend outside!
From read-aloud home school sessions, board games, legos, picnic lunches, backyard barbecues, and even a spot to fold laundry and soak in the sun at the same time, the backyard has become an instant extension of our living space.
Do what you can to create a comfortable place to spend time outside.
15. Exercise Outside
“Wholesome exercise in the free air, under the wide sky, is the best medicine for body and spirit.”
~ Sarah Louise Arnold
Whenever you can, take that workout outside!
The fresh air, uneven terrain of the earth, vitamin d from the sun, and abundance of sights and sounds of nature add many benefits to your exercise time.
Choose one or two of these ideas to instantly increase your time enjoying nature today.