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Balancing work, life and getting the kids outside

I have read a number of articles that focus on getting kids outside a minimum of 3 hours per day (outside of organized sports). As a family with both parents working full time, this can be a challenge, but we do our best. It helps to always have a pre-packed kit of snacks and water as well as appropriate clothes ready in the car or cargo bike so we are ready to go either before or after work. I'd love to hear what you done to make the hurdle of getting out the door for adventures with the littles a bit easier during the work week? Here's a picture of my girls and I on a short evening hike up from our local archery range, where the Mr. is working on his aim. 


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8 Replies

@Lauren Do walks around the neighborhood and walks to the playground count...? On weeknights I feel like that's the best we can do! 

I think anything that gets everyone outside should definitely count 🙂 

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I couldn't agree more, I think part of the secret of us being able to get out as much as we do is that the truck is ALWAYS packed and ready for pretty much anything. There's always changes of clothes, food, towels, chairs, tables, napkins, headlamps, jackets, water, multiple pairs of shoes, hats, etc. 

This way a trip to the beach/park/anywhere just means tossing the kids in the car and taking off whereas before it meant packing the night before or the morning of which we all know takes FOREVER.

@minhster , we're the same...I almost always have our gear for one adventure or another in the truck under the back seat.  @Lauren , we try to go walk as a family on days we aren't really after a trail or climbing or anything.  During the week the kids at least get a couple hours of outside play time before we make it to the after-school care.  It's tough with us both working.  We spend more time coming up with ideas than getting to go out it seems like.

@minhster Wait - you always have chairs & TABLES, plus all that other stuff ready in your car?

I was super jazzed to prep my car like yours ... Until I got to the chairs & tables part! Haha!

Still inspired and gonna prep it tomorrow - but those pieces of furniture threw me!

What a great idea!


To the original poster: dont forget that 10 minutes or so before the bus comes that the kids could romp outside with. Also, homework outside counts too. We eat, read, craft etc etc a lot outside. Just like exercise, every bit HELPS. It doesnt need to be consecutive minutes, just cumulative. 

Plus - wait - there arent rules at all! If you're outside, youre outside! Dont let anyone make you feel shamed for a stroll in the neighborhood rather than a backcountry hike!

@Lauren Thanks for this post! As a mom of small kids, I recognize the challenge of not only getting outside, but getting anywhere with minimal stress. 

I find we are most successful if we can manage NOT heading home after picking up said kiddos from school / grandma's. If everyone is home and waiting for one parent, that parent basically swings by home, changes clothes, picks everyone up, and then we head off on an adventure. 

I aspire to be so well organized to have pre-packed vehicles and snacks. We did purchase reusable containers with separate compartments, and the kids have eaten many dinners in the car as we head somewhere. 

Do you all include the kids in deciding what type of outdoor activity they want to do? What are some of their favorite outdoor activities?

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@REI-WendyG , I couldn't agree more with this - "I find we are most successful if we can manage NOT heading home after picking up said kiddos from school / grandma's." It is really easy to stop by the house with a plan to head straight back out, and promptly lose steam at the end of the day. 

Unless I already have a place or activity in mind, I definitely include my kiddos in the decision on where to go and what to do. Sometimes, that requires a bit of compromise, but we can usually figure out something everyone is excited to go do. While both of my girls are pretty pleased to be outside doing anyting, one is happier to hike or trail run while the other really enjoys bike rides. We try to balance that, or if both parents are available, work in some one-on-one with each of the kiddos if possible. 

Some of our favorite outdoor activities include hiking (including walks around town or in our local national forest), biking, and climbing. Currently, as we try to minimize our potential impact during this time of COVID, we have been spending a lot of time in our yard gardening, IDing plants, bird watching, writing, and reading.  

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I know this post hasn't had any activity in a while, but it's definitely still relevant. The scheduling demands across the family - from the parents' work schedules to the toddler's naptimes - make it tough. Not to mention the pandemic that wasn't even on the horizon when you originally posted this. It's not easy during the week. Occasionally we do walks in the evening after work, or go do a picnic dinner outside. All of this weather permitting, of course. On the weekends my son is with us we do a lot more, including working on section hiking part of the Mountains to Sea Trail.