Fall is a wonderful season to get into the great outdoors: It’s not too hot or cold and if you’re lucky to live where the trees change their leaves, you’re treated to a beautiful array of shades.
It doesn’t cost much money to enjoy the great outdoors (if any!) and it’s a great chance for your family to get fresh air and exercise. Go for a walk, apple picking, camping, jump in the leaves or get gardening. Not only does this help you be a healthy, close family, it also teaches your children about the natural world and other valuable life skills. Studies show that children who play and explore outdoors are less stressed and may further benefit by learning confidence and social skills.
If you don’t know where to start, find a park near you at nps.gov, as well as family friendly nature trails, nature centers and events. On naturerocks.org you can also find destinations by type and events depending on the time you have available, proximity to your area and the age of your child.
Farmers’ markets are increasingly popular. Here you can buy locally grown, fresh produce and ask the farmer directly about his products. Support your local farmers’ markets—they provide sustainable produce that helps preserve our environment by reducing transportation and packaging.
Enjoy a Saturday market stroll, sampling foods as you browse; this is a great opportunity for your kids to try new things. You may all be surprised to find that what’s delicious may also be healthy.
Then, with your loot in hand, pack it off to the park for a picnic, barbecue, or tailgate party. There’s no better way to end the day than great food shared with friends in the great outdoors.
build a strong family
Many studies have shown that children who spend quality time with their parents are less prone to violence and substance abuse, not to mention the benefits to their language, behavior and emotional development.
Not everyone has the time to spare organizing elaborate days out or special activities, but simply scheduling family dinner several times a week can make all the difference. And that is true for the whole year round.
Rainy Day Ideas
Don’t let a rainy day spoil your fun; there are plenty of ways to enjoy time together indoors. Get creative!
- Collect some dry leaves from your garden or park and sandwich one between two pieces of paper; then rub over it with a pencil or crayon for instant art.
- Press leaves or flowers in between the pages of a heavy book for a couple of weeks; enjoy your toddler’s surprise when she sees what she’s captured.
- Read through your library’s suggested reading list. Reading is a hobby your child can treasure for life, and best of all, using your library is free.
- Visit a museum—there is one for every possible interest from dinosaurs to stars. Find one near you at museumsusa.org/museums.
- Do something charitable together—volunteer with your local church, collect and donate unused toys and clothes to charity or bake a cake for an elderly neighbor. Teach your kids what’s really important!