Life offers very few free lunches and most things that equate to a “good time” are heavily guarded by the debt of painstaking effort and possibly truck loads of cash. The good news is that once we get a little momentum going and defeat the temptation to sit idle, recreation starts paying big returns fast.
On a recent hike with Audrie, my 8-year-old, I was relieved that she seemed so okay with having nothing to do but wander. An unseasonable afternoon offered up time-to-kill and without much of a plan we headed up a steep ridge; our last goodbye to t-shirt weather. All the while she peacefully took in the views, poked at bugs, and didn’t feel the need to say much. It was clear that she was comfortable with our agenda-free time on the mountain and as a parent I was both satisfied and relieved.
At the top I sat and watched her from a distance while she dug in the dirt with a stick and gazed at the valley we call home. I felt like I could see whatever stresses exist in an 8-year-old drifting away and being replaced with amazement. She was visibly content beyond what is readily apparent during a normal week’s hectic schedule.
This passing moment seemed vital and important, like something that should happen more often for all of us. Nature is a powerful rehab for the noisy world we live in.
With kids, preparing for and executing even the smallest adventures can seem like impassable mountains—humble outings that make alpine expedition preparations pale in comparison (I am pretty sure our Mountain Hardwear diaper bag did have ice axe loops—just sayin’.). And while I wish I were better at making adventure happen more often, I can tell you a couple of basic tactics that keep the wheels moving in all facets of life, including this one.
Two simple ideas to supercharge your family’s adventure schedule
1. Schedule and Commit for Big Adventures
At work our sales team receives weekly training from a performance consultant whose sales methodology is held together by an activity his organization calls the Schedule-Next-Event. It sounds rudimentary, but still, making an appointment whether with a client or with adventure is the crux of success or failure in making progress happen.
With personal and family adventure here is how this works for me and rarely falls through. Think of all the wild trips you want to take in the next 12 months and simply get them on the calendar with conviction. Ignore all the what-ifs and unknowns. Just decide you are going to make it happen and then work on any obstacles that arise later. It’s like eating a hot dog before going on the hot dog factory tour, as opposed to trying to eat it after—not likely to happen.
2. Embrace Spontaneity for Small Adventures
It takes a lot of torque to get the vehicle called “family activity” burning down the road, even if just for an afternoon hike. Responsible parents are tasked with curbing their inherent desires to over plan, arrange loads of activities, accommodate individual preferences, devise contingency plans, plus provide enough food to feed a small village should they find one during Activity #27: Wildberry Scavenger Hunt. Great, if you have mad parenting skills and a Red Bull i.v. drip, but more often than not the hassle of all of this can extinguish plans before the match is even lit.
Like the recent hike with my daughter, next time life throws you a few hours of free time, grab a water bottle, appropriate clothing, one or more family members, and just leave. Go find nature, and then let it find you something to do once you are there.
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