We all know kids need to get outside more. Not only is science telling us this, but every person we meet seems to be talking about it, and our own inner voice is beginning to question the time everyone spends indoors and in front of screens.
A good project can get you and your family outside enjoying all the mental health benefits of fresh air, soaking up some much-needed vitamin D from the sun, and enjoying each other’s company. The following will take a look at some of the more popular outdoor projects families can do themselves.
Building And Tending A Garden
This project gets a lot of bonus points right from the start. Yes, building and tending a garden gets you and the family outside, but also:
- It produces food that you can eat, which saves you money and teaches your children valuable lessons about the food system, sustainability, and self-reliance.
- Homegrown fruits and veggies tend to be far healthier than store-bought versions for the simple reason that they’re not doused with industrial levels of pesticides.
- If you seek out heirloom seeds online (they’re usually a dollar more expensive than standard seeds), you’ll be protecting yourself from the hormonal damage that comes with eating genetically modified foods, while also protecting the environment from the same damages.
- Gardens also require regular maintenance, so this isn’t something you do for a weekend and then go back inside and forget about. Gardens need regular, if not daily, care if they are going to continue to thrive and grow and produce, making them excellent sources of exercise.
- There is also often a research and development stage that can help kids learn research skills and introduce them to engineering.
That’s a lot of positive benefits now, isn’t it? Kids especially love being able to choose what fruits and veggies they grow (and for the oddest reason, they are more likely to eat vegetables that they grew themselves). Begin this project by getting your soil ready or prepping a raised bed or greenhouse space. Don’t worry if you’re unfamiliar with any of these things; the internet is full of supportive folks trying to encourage everyone to get safer and healthier food. Start with one of these 13 free DIY greenhouse plans and a few staple veggies and see what happens. You can continue to add new plants as you get accustomed to tending them.
Build A Bonfire Pit
There is nothing quite like sitting outside as the fire crackles in front of you. This is another project that can encourage you to get outside long after the work is completed. All that’s needed is a bit of digging and some larger stones for a fire ring. Of course, be sure to look up the home-fire rules in your area. Some counties require you to get a burn permit if you want to have a bonfire in your yard. This is usually a quick and inexpensive process. Don’t forget the marshmallows!
Build And Hang Bird Feeders
The internet is full of low-cost guides on building bird feeders. Once everyone has an idea of the ones they like, you can gather supplies and get to work. Kids especially like the painting stage, but there are countless DIY designs and options for all skill and dexterity levels. This project also encourages local birdlife to get comfortable in your property, allowing for more beauty and birdsong in your daily life.
Create And Hang A Swing
Having a swing dangling from a tree in the yard is a sight of cozy nostalgia for many. It also serves to encourage kids to get outside and away from all that circadian rhythm-disrupting blue light that comes from electronic devices. It turns out making a swing is a pretty easy task too. All you need is a rope (ideally a treated one that isn’t going to mold) and a board (sand it like you’ve never sanded anything before). Of course, choosing the correct tree is a big part of the process. Be sure to test the tree’s ability to hold weight before you let the kids play on it unattended.
The above family projects are all things that can get the whole family outside for a few hours, if not the whole summer. Connecting with nature as a family is a wonderful experience, and who knows? You might even be creating a family tradition that will be passed down for generations. Like any project done as a family, speed should never be a priority. It takes as long as it takes.