As parents we are often overwhelmed with the amount of chores and work we already have at home. Going out seems like adding on to your already busy day schedule. However, this past year I have learned that taking family outings has many benefits for the entire family and can even increase your motivation and productivity at home. Here are my top 5 reasons for family outings.
1). To learn something new. It does not matter if you go to a museum or to the park; anywhere you go there is a learning opportunity. I take my kids to the playground because they learn important social skills such as sharing space, taking turns and making friends. At museums, they learn through play/interactive displays about history, culture, science, math and art. To gardens and on hikes, the kids learn about the Earth and gain respect for living things. In addition, there are numerous free programs at the library that educate and promote early literacy. Lastly, I think it’s important to teach kids and practice at a young age how to behave in public spaces.
2). To build memories and share quality time. Experiences that allow us to use our five senses; sight, smell, touch and taste are those that are stored in our long-term memory. You get to use most of your senses when sharing in a new experience. Similarly, doing something together and being present for your children even if for a short period of time is more valuable and shows them more love than if they spend all day with you but you share that time with a screen, the laundry and a vacuum.
3.) Expend energy and avoid screen time. Whenever you take your child to the doctor for a wellness visit, you are told to limit screen time and avoid it for children under 2. We have all been there; it’s easier to give them a screen than deal with their tornado like energy. I notice that when my kids get screen time they become irritable afterwards and less creative when it comes to playing with toys and staying busy so we avoid screens. The doctor also tells you the kids need 60 active minutes a day. Taking the kids out allows them to expend energy, exercise and sleep better at night. It’s not too bad for parents either it can count as a workout.
4.) To practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the skill of being AWARE, paying attention to what we are experiencing through our senses in a calm, non-judgmental way. This is especially easy when you are outdoors in nature. It is easier to tune in to what you can see, hear, smell and touch. Just a few moments of this awe can help you recharge and take on the rest of the day. There are many benefits to mindfulness including stress reduction, improving focus, concentration and resilience in both children and adults. If you want to read more go to the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center website.
5.) It keeps my home in the same condition I left it in. Okay so you got me, I like to keep a clean, clutter free home and feed my family good meals, so for a long time it seemed counter intuitive to leave home. However being at home does not mean my home stays clean. It’s often worse because kids move from one activity to the next without picking up in between. We are working on this, but for the meantime, when we come back from an outing, it is nice to come back to a clean home. If we left a mess, which happens, I am motivated to do the chores. After an outing, my kids are glad to be back to their toys and don’t need mommy time because we just spent quality time together, so I have a good hour to clean or cook before they need me again.
Share your thoughts on family outings down below!