I have a confession to make.
I love being outside. I find nature restorative. BUT I often find myself torn between getting outside and getting things done. Often I feel angst because i write a blog about getting outside, yet I find myself fighting a mental battle to get out there. Carrying the weight of a lot of responsibilities can be a hindrance to a passion for an outdoor life. As a homeschool mom I am responsible for my children's education which requires supervision and proximity. In addition, I am starting a new business as a TimberNook provider - my work is never done at the end of the day. Not to mention that my kids need to be shuttled places, I have things I am involved in outside the home and my family needs to eat!
YET, I need and want to make getting outside a priority.
Getting outside is so beneficial for my kids. BUT it is beneficial for me too. It calms me. It keeps me active. It helps me look outward instead of always looking inward. It frees my mind to work through dilemmas in my life.
Here are 6 things I have found that help make it easier to get outside:
1. Give yourself permission to take a break
Often, productivity reigns supreme over rest and restoration. We feel guilty if we aren't "doing." Often we define ourselves by what we accomplish. Changing our thoughts and self-talk is an essential stepping stone to changing our behavior. Rather than telling ourselves we are being unproductive, we need to tell ourselves that getting outside is a strategy to help us be more effective in whatever role we have. I know that I am a much more pleasant mom when I get some outside time. Additionally, I am a better writer and business woman when I give myself brain-breaks that allow for clearer thinking (This is neurologically proven!) So, give yourself permission to go outside - it ISN'T wasted time!
2. Make an appointment on the calendar to get outside
Our calendars are like a vacuum, aren't they?? If you clear one thing off, something immediately fills that space if you don't claim it. Make an "appointment" to get outside and stick to it. Actually write it on your calendar. Put a post-it note on your fridge to remind you of the appointment. Work in the garden, take a hike, go on a run, read a book on the patio - these are all appointments that are worthy of spot on your weekly calendar. If they aren't on there, something else will be! Even better, have a friend mark their calendar, too and join forces!
3. Let go of some goals and replace them with others
This is a tough one. It requires us to examine our time commitments and evaluate how we are using our time. Being a little introspective can be challenging. WHY are we doing some of the things that fill up our days? Are they essential? Do my kids really need to be involved in all these activities? Can I let go of them to make room for some margin in my life? These are some important questions that can aid in gaining back some space in our lives for things that have gotten pushed aside. This is true for us personally and for our families. If we want to make getting outside a priority, it might mean letting go of some other things.
4. Take a technology break -Put the phone down!
How much time do we waste in a day checking Facebook, looking at Instagram or even checking our email? A recent infographic stated that the average adult spends 2 hours a day on social media alone. I confess that it is hard for me to ignore a new notification that pops up on my phone. It is a time waster! Join me in setting some parameters for phone use. Perhaps you can set only certain times of day to check your phone. Leave it in another room when you are working. Imagine how we can use those extra 2 hours! I could get in a great hike in 2 hours!!
5. Using extrinsic motivators - in other words, reinforcement!
Who doesn't like a reward? Or something that says, "You did it!" A friend of mine received a fitbit for Christmas and was always telling me how many steps she got in. I thought it was a lot of hype and got turned off by people posting their daily steps on social media. But when a less expensive version went on sale at Aldi's, I thought I would give it a try. I have to admit that I love hearing the beep-beep-beep of a goal met. And many days when I look down and see a low number of steps in the middle of the day, it is an incentive to get outside and take a walk, when I otherwise might not have made the effort. Another great motivator is to get involved in a challenge like the 365 Mile Challenge. This online community with a goal to walk/hike/paddle/climb 365 miles in this calendar year, is an incredible encouragement to get outdoors and keep moving. Encouraging stories of others who live adventurously and bravely, stir me to action. Sign up - it's not too late!
6. Habits take time to form
A recent study showed that it can take up to 66 days to form a new habit. Not meaning to discourage you, but to give yourself some grace. If you are not making your goal of getting outside often, keep at it and don't give up or get discouraged. The study also showed that missing a day does not reduce the chances of forming a habit, yet early repetition increases the rate of automaticity. Keep trying - You got this!
Every day is a new day. Don't let yesterday's missed accomplishments keep you from grabbing today's opportunities!
How do you make time to get outside? Join the conversation on my Facebook page! (But don't spend too much time there :-) )
Hi! I'm Ann - mother of seven, grandmother of two and occupational therapist. My mission is to provide the support families need to raise thriving children and to help you build a family environment that supports healthy development and a pathway to success.
Great blogs to check out:
Rain or Shine Mamma
Children & Nature Network
Follow us on Instagram