Being in the outdoors is a great way to spend time with your family. Get the kids away from phones and video games and out of the house. Get away from work and the every day stresses that we all worry over. Have true quality time with one another disconnected from the internet and social media. Any of the many outdoor activities are family friendly. I love getting out with my kids and sharing a fun day, but more than that I think it’s truly important for their development and mental and emotional health. Just like we adults need a break from every day life, kids do too. The pressures of school and social status and even pressures at home that we may inadvertently put on them and don’t even realize it. Kids actually have a lot of stress going on too. So getting them away and letting them have these same empowering and rejuvenating experiences is just as important for them.
As adults, I think we tend to get stuck in our own little bubble and we may not realize how our actions or moods are affecting those around us. I think that a lot of people may have negative ideas about camping or fishing because when they were young, their parents may not have made it too enjoyable. I think it is very necessary that when we take our kids out that we keep in the fore-front of our mind that we are shaping their experiences. We may tend to get frustrated or stressed when things don’t go the way we want them to. My daughters notice when I get quiet that maybe I’m upset, and usually it’s just that I think they aren’t having fun, but they notice and ask if I’m mad. I think it’s very important we remember that our kids are watching. If we are stomping around and cursing under our breath our kids are feeling our emotions and it stresses them out. Which, for them makes them feel unsafe and uncomfortable. When children are out in the wilderness living in a tent or going out on a boat, they probably already feel nervous because they are out of their comfort zones. These feelings of stress they may associate with these activities for the rest of their lives. So, I think it’s truly important for us to keep their mental state in our focus.
I try to never get upset over the little things that go wrong. Instead I just roll with the punches. Go with the flow. The first thing didn’t work, so what are we going to try next? It’s important for our kids to see us keeping our cool and problem solving for them to learn to do that as well. Even more, I would say ask them for ideas. What they might suggest to solve a particular problem. Kids see things from a totally different angle sometimes and letting them voice their ideas and then even implementing their ideas to try coming up with a solution really builds their confidence and allows them to have courage to speak up when they have an idea. I am learning at 37 to speak up and say what I think and know. I don’t ever want my kids to think that they aren’t smart enough or good enough to share their thoughts or feelings. Tasks such as deciding where to set up a tent or what to do if you don’t have a specific tool that you need are good ways for them to start learning to find solutions and you may even learn something new from them.
I know my kids love their phones and posting things on social media so I never make them leave their phones behind. My two favorite lakes don’t have service anyway, but they will want to take pictures and share their adventures too and I totally encourage that. Without cell service they are disconnected anyway, but being able to share their stories is important for them. I just want them to enjoy it. If they are constantly being criticized or nagged about being teenagers, they aren’t going to want to do anything with us. I pretty much encourage them to do what they want when we are out, within reason of course, but if they want to go for a walk instead of fish or they want to lay in their tent and relax instead of hiking, I mean… I want it to be as much a vacation for them as it is for me. Fortunately they usually want to do the things I’m doing and we have a great time together, laughing and joking around. We just enjoy our time together out at the lake. I want to encourage more parents to maybe just take a breath and think before you react. You may not realize it, but the way we act will always stay with them. It’s important to keep things positive and light when kids are with us on adventures. So, get out. Have fun. Enjoy each others company. Empower, Strengthen and Recover together in the beautiful outdoors.