Select Page

Go play outside

Several years ago, my husband and I sat down to determine how to best prioritize our time and money. After identifying that we highly valued playing in God’s country, it was easy to spend money on a nice set of bikes for our family while choosing to drive 10 year old cars.

This morning we donned our winter wear and hit the mountain for a few hours on skis with our children, ages four and seven. This is a typical day for our family.

On several days a week throughout the year, you will find us out in nature on our bikes, kayaking, hiking, camping, snowshoeing or skiing. The kids call it fun – I call it therapy.

Richard Louv may focus his efforts on getting children into nature, but I believe the benefits are just as great for those of us adults that stare at big and little screens all day.

“When a child is out in nature, all the senses get activated. He is immersed in something bigger than himself, rather than focusing narrowly on one thing, such as a computer screen. He’s seeing, hearing, touching, even tasting.

Out in nature, a child’s brain has the chance to rejuvenate, so the next time he has to focus and pay attention, perhaps in school, he’ll do better…But even if kids don’t have any of the specific problems mentioned above, kids who don’t get out much lack the sense of wonder that only nature can provide.”

– Richard Louv, from an interview with Scholastic


It doesn’t take courage or boundary breaking.  The family that plays outside might look like this:

• Exploring a new trail or nature park every Saturday morning
• Eating a picnic dinner at a local lake or river, while the kids throw sticks in the water and the sun sets
• Throw caution to the wind and camp. In a tent. Where there are dirt and bugs (oh my!). Or take it one step at a time and camp in the backyard.

Maybe that sense of wonder we so often attribute to children can be renewed in ourselves if we just go play outside.

Visit me at Mommy Goes Green for more resources, books, and ways to use technology to get your family back into nature.

Tell me friends, how does your family play outside?

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Catherine

    I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I grew up in a country town and spent most of my free time and holidays at my grandparent’s farm. We free ranged and had a pretty amazing childhood really. Fast forward to being an adult with kids of my own and we hardly ever get out in nature and I am not sure how that happened. I also live on the other side of the world from the easy access to my parent’s farm. I would really love to incorporate more outdoor activities but seem stuck as to how to do it in suburbia. We go to the park, sure, but I really yearn for a big ol’ shallow pebble creek to skip stones in. I would love to see a series of a family learning how to go camping. My husband is the most urban person imaginable and, even though I grew up in the country, we never actually camped so we collectively have no idea how to even get started!

    • Tiffany

      Hi Catherine, I’ve put together a list of my favorite places to get ideas for connecting families and nature. I’ve mentioned a book there called The Down & Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids that may help you out!

  2. Dawn

    One of the main ways we play outside (we have 2 kids, ages 3 and 4) is to take numerous bike rides and walks around our neighborhood. These rides/walk take on many different forms; they might be nature walks in which we observe the new flowers in bloom (which is year-round where we live), the birds, or even the numerous dogs (some stray, some with owners) that are everywhere here. Other times, the walk is taken with the purpose of “tracking down” hippos and giraffes (which actually DON’T live here), etc. I’ve been amazed at the way my children are learning to observe and how taking the same routes and roads at times never seems to get old to them.

    Love the Louvre quote! I appreciate the idea of nature providing the opportunity for us to become immersed in something bigger than us; something that engages all our senses. Thanks for sharing the quote and for a good post to encourage me to think creatively about how we can engage the outdoors as a family.

  3. Eric Dingler

    We are also big bikers. Our kids are very use to riding in a buggy behind my bike as we pedal along the local towpath.

    We live at a summer camp I’m the director of, so being outside is a big part of our lives…we haven’t yet taking up winter activities outdoors yet. Our kids are just now 3 and 18months…so very soon. We also like to fish.

  4. Shelly

    We live very close to a pond and creek where the kids love to find frogs, crayfish, and the occasional eel. We also make great use of the parkway near our house and have “family fitness days” there frequently when it’s warm.

  5. Kate @Wild Tales of...

    Wow–talk about connections. Just wrote about Mr. Louv on my blog yesterday, and I’m in the middle of his book, Last Child in the Woods.

    I love your simple suggestions for getting outdoors, and the idea that yes, it’s for the adults too, not just for kids.

    We play outside in many ways…taking daily walks (big thanks to the dog for that one), visit our local parks, venture out further for hikes, or just go in the backyard and uncover rocks…

  6. Kate @Wild Tales of...

    Wow–talk about connections. I just wrote about Mr. Louv on my blog yesterday inspired by his talk here in the Seattle and his book (I’m in the middle of his book, Last Child in the Woods).

    I love your simple suggestions for getting outside with kids, and the idea that yes, it’s not just good (and necessary) for kids, but adults too. It’s essential for all!

    We get outside by talking daily walks (big thanks to our dog for that one), exploring our local parks, venturing further from home for hikes, even just going out into the backyard to uncover rocks and see what we find.

  7. Johanna

    Wow. I love this but it’s so funny that I wrote about getting outside today as well! No skis for us. Just a normal walk, but fresh air none the less!! I loved Richard Louv’s book and it was really a game changer for me when I read it several years ago.

    • Naomi Liz Figueroa

      Johanna, which book did you read? I just googled Richard Louv and now I’m intrigued! As if my book list weren’t long enough…

  8. Missy Robinson

    I am passionate about getting my children outdoors, especially the boys! I find that so much of their lives are limited with necessary boundaries and there is little true freedom to explore, to roam, to expand one’s breath and chest. We love to go to Smoky Mountain National Park and hike. We have a ‘regular’ spot where we picnic and the children (age 5+) are free to wander…really wander in and out of water, trails, trees, blankets, etc. It is a gift! We take family walks and our home in the woods provides ample chances to get outside.

    Locally, we enjoy the many Greenway trails, a local nature reserve and even our city walk by the river.

  9. Traci

    I love this! I spent much of my childhood outside, and it was always encouraged by my mom. I remember going to family hikes, both in Colorado and in MN, and being taken on sledding adventures when it was wintertime.

  10. Jessica

    We currently live on a small British island where we’re spoilt for choice with beaches, so for us getting outdoors as a family usually involves strolling along coastal paths and staring across the sea to the neighboring islands. I’m a country girl at heart though, and love trees and open fields and look forward to the day when we’re living near forests and hills. I dream of hiking and camping on a regular basis, tending to some animals and getting my fingers green with my little ones. We have a long way to go to get to this dream, but one step at a time and for now we’re working up to hiking together as a family and I plan to do a bit of urban farming (on a very small scale!).

  11. Sarah @ Little Bus on the Prairie

    This is something that I’m really looking forward to as we move into our bus – not having as much room to stay INside all day. The kids and I will pretty much be forced out and about. There are so, so many things to do where we live though – zoos and wild animal parks and beaches and parks… I’m thinking we won’t miss the square footage of living space too too much.

  12. Naomi Liz Figueroa

    I love this! I can really identify with this post, and especially the quote from Richard Louv.

    I am so thankful that I had a childhood full of exploring in the wild woods of Maine, and even just my backyard in a rural town. I live in a much busier place now, so it’s hard for me to deal with that sometimes (like you said, being in nature is therapy!). Thanks for sharing these reminders and the simple ideas.

  13. Haley

    Love this. We go out in nature as a family quite a bit, and camp quite often as well. We often get a lot of remarks because we have 5 kids between the ages of 5 and 11. We hear things like You went tent camping with 5 kids Oh wow that must of been hard. Seriously not hard, Living in a city with 5 kids trying to keep them all on a schedule that is hard. but taking them hiking is easy, they go as they are (i have a couple who hate shoes they hike bare foot) everyone gets a quick bug spray and off they go, we tell them go ahead of us and explore, its okay to get lost you can’t learn your way back if you don’t. Camping, another wonderful thing for kids, they can get dirty, they can go bare foot, they can climb, run, jump, explore. Nothing is more wonderful as a parent than sitting by a fire in a black out zone(no artificial lights) in a federal park listening to your kids running around with flash lights in the empty camp ground playing man hunt in teams…..while you sit and enjoy a nice hot coffee you brewed on your fire. we also love water, we try very hard not to stop the kids from exploring any water way we come across. we scan for saftey concerns, but creeks are great for exploring for kids they are shallow and full of all kinds of little creatures. sadly we go to these places a lot and see to many parents hovering over their kids afraid to let them climb, fall down, get dirty (seriously let the kid get dirt on their hands it will not kill them), pushing the bugs out of their hands, telling them the mud is dirty (it is and its fun really really fun). I would imagine my brood would look like little savages…. half naked, running around in bare feet dirt every where but they are always happy and smiling (at least until its time to come back into the city)

Join thousands of readers
& get Tsh’s free weekly email called
5 Quick Things,

where she shares stuff she either created herself or loved from others. (It can be read in under a minute, pinky-swear.)

It's part of Tsh's popular newsletter called Books & Crannies, where she shares thoughts about the intersection of stories & travel, work & play, faith & questions, and more.