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How to get kids to adventure and explore outside

kids climbing trees

A step by step guide to creating a ‘wildhood’ for your kids

If you want to raise adventurers, explorers and save your kid’s imaginations – then this post is for you. These are our ideas for helping families get outdoors. I could tell you that my family spend all their days foraging for food and cooking it over a campfire…..or that our home is a yurt, we live off the land and practice animal chants……but none of that would actually be true. We are a real family who like screens………..a little too much. We have kids who argue about whose turn it is on the X Box, we’re a family that do the full 9-5 job thing (and more) and whose views are less rolling hills and a little more high rise. BUT…. we do believe that getting outside opens up magical adventures, we believe parenting is actually easier outside (no-one can hear you shout for a start) and that the great outdoors offers boredom busting opportunities for family connections. We believe that once you’ve done the hardest part of leaving the house and ditching the usual indoor routine – then you’re always rewarded with space and time where adventures and memories are waiting to be made. So, if you like the sound of some mini adventures and maybe some big adventures too…… get your wellies at the ready and read on……..

girl throwing leaves
How to get kids to adventure and explore outside

Why our kids need a ‘wildhood’

We live in a world where there are so many things vying for our kids time – there are shows to binge watch on Netflix, video games and endless ways to connect online with their friends. The pandemic has meant that many of us have spent more time indoors than ever before and now some ‘we-time’ and outdoor play is needed to balance our busy modern days. It’s not easy to get kids to put down the x-box controller but pressing pause on technology and encouraging a little ‘wildhood’ and ‘rewilding’ can inspire us all to be creative. Nature is humming around us all the time and when we tune in – we get stripped from distractions and can embrace a slower pace and feel less anxiety. Kids need to splash in mud and get dirty and be loud outdoors to learn that not everything in life is clean and perfect and sanitised. Outdoor adventures help all of us cope in different situations. By their very nature, outdoor adventures mean that sometimes you will be hot, sometimes you’ll be cold -they’ll be sand in your socks and stones in your shoes and you’ll have to learn to cope with it! Kids learn resilience and problem solving when they spend time outdoors – when adventures go wrong as well as when they go right! In fact, beautiful memories come from adventures that go a little awry – I believe our crazy canoeing adventure taught all my family that we can do hard things! If we encourage our kids to adventure in nature – they are more likely to want to care for and fight to protect the environment as they grow. That old saying “you only protect what you love and you only love what you know”. But, this blog isn’t really about WHY kids should spend more time outside, it’s just full of ideas to help you get out there! If you do want to know more about why getting our kids outside is a good idea, I love the film ‘Project Wild’. This film says it perfectly in way better ways than I could!

family holiday west coast of ireland

What if you don’t live in the countryside?

We don’t live in a rural location and we believe you don’t need access to big wild spaces to create your own wildhood. Adding a bit of wild can be as simple as growing a window box, playing out in the rain or making a mud potion. Unstructured time in nature is the ideal but I still believe there is as much enjoyment in our Hapa Zome Nature activity on the balcony of a high rise flat as there is in a wildflower meadow! Small and simple is often the way to go when you first adventure outdoors.

Why should you have adventures with your kids?

New adventures take us into the unknown, sometimes that means that we’ll get lost or end up somewhere different but the struggle and overcoming of the problem can build pride in your kids, when adventuring gets tough, we like to say to our kids “It will make a great story later”. Last year, I hiked 9 miles with our eldest two and then we pitched our tent to camp overnight. 9 miles shouldn’t have been a difficult hike for us but I may have forgot to check the incline! It turned out to be a really hilly walk and more times than I can count, we wanted to give up. It was tough but we kept going and sure enough “It did make for a great story later”!

go ape treetop adventure

How to get kids outside and have adventures with your kids

It doesn’t matter about where you go to have an adventure necessarily- it doesn’t matter about exotic locations, expensive holidays or impressive adventuring equipment. We would all love to be able to visit the Grand Canyon or take our kids on an epic white water rafting excursion or ski down Whistler but not all adventures need to be expensive and far away. I want to explore and see new places with my family and introduce my kids to the discovery of finding out something new but I also know the value of venturing only a little way so that I can teach my kids the joy of having an adventure wherever they are, whatever they have. We mustn’t fall prey to the idea that a small everyday adventure in our next town isn’t important – that’s not true! My instagram account is full of people travelling further and having more grandiose adventures than our family. My own adventure credentials aren’t amazing – there’s so many places we want to visit and travel to. But sometimes a 3 night camping trip is enough of an adventure with 4 kids or just heading out to a woods at tea time to cook your dinner outside feels exciting! What makes an adventure is trying something new or venturing somewhere a little further than you’ve been before. All that matters is that it’s an adventure for you and that you are making memories.

Kids walking
How to Adventure with your Kids

12 family adventures

If you’re looking for ways to start having outdoor adventures, every year we create a list of 12 family adventures that we choose to do together. Fun things we want to accomplish before the kids grow up. Everyone gets to add their choice and just one a month means it doesn’t feel overwhelming – use one of our lists for inspiration or create your own! There are lots of other great outdoor adventure lists too! We like the National Trust 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4 .

We’ve also created our Best Outdoor Activity List for Family Adventures to give you lots of inspiration and ideas for outdoor family adventures.

Join our Wildhood Challenge for more outdoor activity ideas for kids!

Our 7-day WILDHOOD CHALLENGE will help show busy parents of little kids just how easy, fun, and beneficial it can be to spend time outside with your family. We’ll give you all the info and inspiration you need to plan and execute fun outdoor adventures, big and small, for an entire week. At the end of the week, you’ll be prepared with countless ideas for creating intentional time outside with your kids to give them more than just a childhood…a “wildhood” that they deserve.

10 step plan for creating your Wildhood 

If you want to help your kids become awesome outdoor adventurers, then here’s your foolhardy 10 step plan to creating your own wildhood. You don’t have to be an outdoorsy nature fanatic to create great outdoors adventures for your kids. These 10 simple things are a perfect way to help your kids go wild outside. Once you’ve completed them and want a little more ‘wild’ and more adventure – you can repeat them in more challenging locations or combine them. Once you’ve spent some time in the woods – you can stay a little longer and cook your dinner there! Once you’ve paddled in a river……..next you might try wild swimming! Once you’ve grown some herbs in a plant pot – next try helping out at an allotment. Each wildhood challenge can be developed for different age groups and adventure scales.

How to create your wildhood with kids

1. Spend a day in the woods

Try going for a walk, then build up to playing games in the woods. Here are our favourite ‘Things to do In the Woods with Kids’ and our favourite woodland crafts after your walks.

Kids playing in the woods
Spend a day in the woods

2. Grow something

You don’t have to have a lot of space to start a simple vegetable garden with kids.

3. Play in a river

You can start by making simple boats to sail along the river and then try pond-dipping with kids!

Outdoor Activities for Kids

4. Eat outdoors

Things taste better outdoors, toast marshmallows and read our favourite outdoor cooking with kids recipes!

Camping meals families
Eat Outdoors

5. Spend a day at the beach

Paddle, swim, rock pooling – a day at the beach is the very definition of ‘wild’ try visiting in all weathers!

family holiday west coast of ireland

6. Camp Outdoors

Try our top tips on family camping!

7. Head to Water

Try canoeing or wild swimming or hiring a boat – anything water based is bound to be an adventure!

8. Hike at Night

Walking anywhere can turn into adventure. Read what to pack for a nature walk with kids to help create adventure. But walking at night is even more exciting! If you have little ones, this doesn’t even need to be a late walk in winter months – they’ll never know!

9. Play with Mud

From splashing in muddy puddles to mud potions and mud kitchen play – mud can inspire any adventure!

muddy puddle walks

10. Go for a picnic bike ride

When was the last time you went on a family bike ride?

There aren’t many kids out there that don’t love a good bike ride, especially when it comes with a picnic!

I hope Thimble and Twig will help you to discover new places to adventure both in the UK and further afield and that hopefully these ideas will help families get outside, so grab your backpack, grab a friend – don’t forget the snacks and wellies – and just go!!

More inspiration to get your kids outdoors….

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