Executive Chronicles| Enjoy Nature with the Family While Social Distancing | If COVID-19 continues to spread at the rate experts believe it will, schools and offices will remain closed. But there’s a silver lining: you have more time for your family. Nearly a year into quarantine, however, not everyone’s a big fan of staying at home. Cabin fever sets in and it’s natural for you, your spouse and the kids to get antsy.
Fortunately, nature is on your side.
Even though you can’t go to your planned Marlin fishing Gold Coast trip or Grand Canyon vacation, you can still enjoy some fresh air. Getting outside — but still practicing social distancing — can reduce the whole family’s stress levels and improve your physical and mental health.
So, here’s a list of activities to help you and the kids make the best out of the quarantine season. These activities depend on the availability of outdoor spaces. Before you go on a short trip with the family, make sure you practice social distancing measures, wear your masks and keep hand sanitizers handy.
Go Rooftop, Deck or Backyard Camping
Borrow or buy a tent or encourage the kids to build their teepee from poles, blankets or sticks. Staying in a tent is perfect for a night out in your garden or during the summer.
Make backyard camping more fun by playing flashlight tag, making s’mores or making shadow puppets on the tent wall. Also, encourage them to run back into the house for food from the fridge, and back out again.
Transform your tent into an observation blind by cutting a small window in the side that faces a place frequented by wildlife. Stow a digital camera, binoculars, granola bars and binoculars in your tent so you can enjoy the view of white clouds and more.
If you don’t have a yard, pitch a hammock, spread a sleeping bag or drag a mattress in the middle of the living room.
Take a Hike or Do Outdoor Exercises
Where you hike or walk depends on the degree of social distancing your situation requires. In the immediate future, steer clear of popular national parks since crowds will most likely flock to these places. Stick closer to home; visit parks with fewer visitors.
With safety issues in mind, both safety from COVID-19 and from people, pick a time for your hike or outdoor walk when fewer people are in the park. If you have smaller children, keep them in line by playing games. On their first hike, play “Walk This Way,” a game that puts the kids in a straight line by asking them to imitate different animals along the way.
Make the hike more fun by bringing props and toys. For kids to pay attention during longer hikes, ask them to find critters by discovering signs of animals passing through.
Outdoor Science Activities
A little science adventure, anyone? Help you kids find the wonder and joy in new growth with the following science activities:
- If you’ve been counting birds, you may have noticed the different species flying around. Can your kids identify the different types of birds? If they’re unsure, take photos of the birds and check out their species on the Internet.
- Make every outing to your backyard or around the neighborhood a science adventure. Look for something all the things that grow. Tulips, bulb flowers and daffodils are just popping through the soil. Ask your kids what color they think the blossoms will be. Check in every few weeks to see.
Set Up a World-Watching Window
If you can’t go outside today, bring the outside in. instead of longing for outdoor activities sit by a window with a view to induce feelings of awe, relaxation and vitality. If your home is positioned below a view that is perfect for stargazing, enjoy the view in the evening or very early in the morning.
The Benefits of Being Outside
Getting everyone outside if more than just a fun break for the kids; it is also good for their mental and physical health and development.
Children who spend time enjoying nature enjoy these benefits:
- Stronger bodies. Children play harder outdoors than indoors. Since school is out, the kids need more opportunities to move. More outdoor time is linked to lower obesity rates and improved motor development.
- Better behavior. When kids spend more time outside, they are less aggressive and have better control of their impulsiveness. This may also help children whose normal routines changed drastically.
- Better mental health. Depression and stress are lower for people who spend more time in nature. The same applies to your kids.
Take advantage of the healing power of nature — even if you’re stuck in your backyard or in the nearby park. Enjoy nature with your family as much as you can and still practice social distancing.