Family Learning | June 3, 2021

Family Discovery Walks

By Neetika Prabhakar

As a mom, I sometimes feel pressure to make my children’s childhood “magical.” I see friends and family planning great trips and outings for their kids, and I can’t help but think that I’m not doing enough for mine. I have a hectic schedule with many responsibilities and limited resources, and it’s just not possible to execute every special adventure that comes to mind. One day I realized- who cares? Maybe in some ways, I do. But you know who definitely doesn’t? My kids!

It took me a while. But what I came to realize is that those special things children really want are not fancy getaways, but their parents’ love and attention. It’s not some amazing destination they care about—it’s the time spent together. Don’t get me wrong—Disney is awesome. I would never take anything away from the cool experiences parents provide for their children. Yet the bottom line is—every parent has the ability to give their children wonderful experiences. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to involve a lot of planning. And there are many reasons why your kids will love it. You can keep it simple, and even local, by heading outdoors. 

Getting out into nature is a wonderful family activity. It incorporates physical activity, family bonding, and learning—not to mention, it’s really fun! 

Being Active

We all want our kids to live healthy lifestyles. The best way to instill the good habit of exercise into our little ones is to lead by example. The local park is a great place to get physical as a family. Play at the playground, take a hike, or kick a ball around in an open field. Google Maps is a great resource that will allow you to visualize how much open space and greenery is available to you. If there aren’t any parks or playgrounds near your home, a walk in the neighborhood can be another great option.

Bonding Time

When you have a free day and the weather is nice, it’s great to head outdoors, even without much of a plan. Pack some snacks, fill up the water bottles, and go for it. Even if you’re just out on a short walk, the kids will love hanging out, talking, joking, and just being together. The more regularly you go out into nature and bond, the more they’ll enjoy it and look forward to it.

Learning and Discovery

Another great aspect of the great outdoors is all of the things that you and your children can observe and learn in the process. It’s so fun for children and adults alike to learn more about the natural area where they live—the types of trees, flowers, and birds you’ll find; the babbling brooks and big hills you may discover; and maybe even some cool views you never realized were within your own neighborhood or region.

Take a look at the things this dad and his kids learn from each other on family walks:

How to Find Local Family Activities

In addition to checking out local parks on Google, you can also search outdoor events in your community, especially as the weather warms up. Your town may hold a 5K race, a street fair or farmer’s market within walking distance, or even a festival geared towards children. Having a great time with your kids does not have to break the bank. If you’re on social media, check out your apps and follow local organizations and your community government offices. They’ll often post free events for the whole family.

Next time you’re looking to fill a Saturday, or the kids are whining that they’re bored, lace up their shoes, apply the sunblock or throw on a hoodie, and get going!

Neetika Prabhakar, MPP, is a mom of two and freelance writer based in New York. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Duke University and is a certified Vinyasa and Children’s Yoga teacher. She covers parenting and child development, health and wellness, and domestic policy issues.