Five Fun Ways to Get Your Kids Into Nature This Summer

Epoch Times

The mental and physical health benefits from being in nature have been well documented.

While it might seem obvious that summertime calls for a plethora of outdoor activity and fun for families, it can be all too easy for unscheduled bliss to devolve into hours inside in front of the television, computer, or other digital devices.

To ensure your family is taking full advantage of the freedom and sunshine that summer brings, here are some strategies that can last all summer long.

Make It a Daily Habit

Develop a daily ritual that involves getting out into nature. Whether that’s a morning walk, watching the sunset every evening, an afternoon bike ride, or a daily nature photo challenge, keep your goal super simple and check off your completion each day on the calendar. By the end of the summer, your healthy habit will be firmly established.

Schedule Outings

Life can get busy pretty quickly. Get outdoor activities committed to your calendar. Picnics in the park, hikes through the woods, and trips to the beach are all more likely to happen if you schedule them.

Keep a Nature Journal

Enhance an appreciation for nature by encouraging your children to keep a nature journal. Sketching and noting what they observe while out and about, gathering plant and other  specimens, and researching their findings might encourage more and more exploring.

Limit Technology Use

While inside, maintain firm limits on the use of digital devices and computer games, which have a tendency to eat away at time and have proven addictive. When the pull from devices is no longer an option, kids tend to aim for the outdoors.

Take Up a New Sport or Hobby

Kayaking, biking, running, surfing, hiking, and so many more outdoor activities lend themselves to regular practice and exploring different areas. Enjoying such activities as a family can open you up to a whole new world of health benefits.

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How to Plan a Family Vacation

Epoch Times

Whether a simple weekend camping or a week abroad in the lap of luxury (or perhaps something in between), embarking on an adventure with your family, away from the day-today, is one of the most enriching things you can do for your clan.

These adventures don’t just happen. They need to be intentionally planned. Here are the ten steps to planning your next family vacation.

 

Get Pumped

Dive into the super fun research phase. Pool all of your resources—the internet, the bookstore, the library, the travel agent, the family and friends—and decide where you want to go and what you’d like to see and do.

Check Your Calendar and Your Bank Account

Define some important parameters for your trip—like when you’re available and what you can afford.

Consider Weather and Crowds

Before booking your trip find out what you can about weather forecasts during the time you’re considering and crowd estimates at your preferred destination. Heading to the Caribbean during hurricane season, for example, adds some risk to your tip. Heading to Disney World over a holiday will generally mean larger crows and longer lines.

Determine your family’s preferences regarding crowds and weather and proceed.

Book Accommodations

Utilize the numbers online sites make available to decide where you’ll stay. Search amenities, customer reviews, industry ratings, location, and availability.

Once you’ve found the best option for your budget, book it and celebrate with the whole family. You’re going on vacation!

Begin the Countdown

Extend the joy of your vacay with your family by counting down the days until departure. Whether simply marking the calendar or crafting a creative way (see Pinterest) to celebrate your impending getaway, looking forward to family adventures can be almost as fun as the adventures themselves.

Nail Down the Details

Reservations for meals, experiences, or entertainment are best nailed down in advance to ensure you don’t miss out. If you’d like to request additional amenities at your hotel, resort, or campground, now is the time.

Set Up a Travel Supplies Basket

As the countdown continues, gather items you’ll need in a designated container. Perhaps you spot something helpful while running errands or you simply gather items from around your home, corralling these gradually will make packing easier.

Items like portable snacks, hand wipes, glow sticks, zip loc bags, and travel-sized toiletries tend to be staples on our list.

Clear the Decks

Just before setting off, tie up loose ends in work and life. Get your inbox to zero, suspend your mail, notify those who should know you’ll be away, straighten up, clean out the fridge, and arrange it so that you leave work behind and come home to a clean slate.

Finalize Packing

Gather just what your family will need and no more. Your packing strategy will vary depending your mode of transportation and the nature of your destination.

Enjoy Your Trip

Enjoy this precious time with your family—this adventure together that will surely live on to become a cherished memory of a lifetime.

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For Parents, It’s All About Patience

June 28, 2017, Epoch Times

Our beautiful children—we love them more than we ever thought it would be possible to love another human; they amaze us, they entertain us, and sometimes, they drive us mad. Am I right?

One key trait many parents wish they had more of is patience: patience to allow their kids to dilly dally, to ask a million questions, to read the same book over and over and over, to play with them without distraction for as long as they wish, to stay calm when trying to get out the door on time, to manage bedtime disruptions; patience for when they’ve made a huge mess, when they’re behavior is not what we wish, when we’re exhausted, when we are trying to get a million things done, when their needs brush up against our own…

This parenting gig is not for the weak hearted. Here are a few ways to foster more patience as we go about this very important work.

Self-Care

Parents often put their own needs on the back burner so that they can care for their children. While their intention is surely good, this strategy can quickly backfire when a lack of self-care leads to exhaustion and a feeling of being overwhelmed. An overtired mom or dad can easily snap at children or overreact in ways they regret later.

Be sure to eat nutritious meals, sleep enough, take time for yourself, and make caring for yourself a priority so that you’ll be fully available to take care of your children.

Dig for Meaning

When children are misbehaving, lashing out, not cooperating, and not meeting our expectations, our patience can run thin. In those moments, it can be helpful to ask ourselves what this is really about.

Children generally don’t aim to make us crazy. So what’s really going on? Is your child struggling with something? Do they have a need that is not being met at this moment? Perhaps they are tired or hungry or hot or anxious. Focus on the cause rather than the symptoms and you’ll feel more in control and better equipped to handle the situation.

Manage Your Expectations

We expect good moods, full energy, excellent manners, total cooperation, pristine listening to every word we say, and more. Sometimes parents can cling to unrealistic expectations of their children.

Motivational speaker and author Tony Robbins says you should “trade your expectations for appreciation.” Make this shift in your mind, and watch your patience meter climb.

Shift Your Perspective

As often as you can, reflect on the gratitude you have for all that is good. Is your family healthy? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have food to eat? Are your children thriving? Did the sun shine today?

From big things to little things, there is always something to be grateful for. Focus on those, center your attention on what’s truly important, and then see if your child’s unwillingness to wear pants with pockets or the fact that your living room is covered in Legos bothers you as much.

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The Key to Happy Parenting–Wake Up First

June 28, 2017, Epoch Times

Many aspects of life change after becoming a parent. The freedom to manage our time is one significant change.

Many parents find themselves mourning this lack of personal freedom. Amidst the joy of new motherhood/fatherhood, the realization that our time and how we spend it will be largely dictated by the needs of someone else can be a challenging adjustment to cope with.

Once children (and, thus, parents) can sleep through the night, one simple idea can reintroduce the concept of personal time for parents. While quite simple, it may not be easy, but it’s benefits are numerous.

If you’d like more time to do with what you wish, to work on your personal goals, to get things done so you no longer feel like you’re drowning, to simply drink a cup of coffee in peace… wake up first. Simply be the first person in your family awaken every morning, preferably by a long shot.

Making the effort, whatever that means for you—setting an early alarm, laying out your clothes the night before, removing digital devices from your bedroom, getting to bed early each night—can be well worth it when you experience the benefit of solo time in the morning.

One way to motivate yourself to always be the first one up is to make your morning as delightful as possible. Do what brings you joy or satisfaction during those precious hours you’ve set aside for yourself. You’ll find yourself looking forward to this time each day and doing what it takes to make sure you don’t sleep through it.

What makes your morning a delight will, obviously, be unique to you. Perhaps you dream of working on a long-term project, uninterrupted. Perhaps sipping coffee on your porch as the sun comes up would be the perfect way to start the day. Maybe being able to work out or even get ahead on house chores would go a long way in starting the day on the right foot. It’s up to you.

When you allow yourself time that is free, uninterrupted, and all yours, you’ll nourish yourself in a way that may make you happier and more effective as a parent.

As every parent knows, life will get in the way from time to time. Aim to experience your morning as often as possible, but expect it to be derailed by sick children, family or work obligations, a poor night’s sleep, or even (gasp!) another family member waking unusually early one day.

Being the first one up the majority of your days is a simple way to enjoy this parent life even more. Give it a try!

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