Making time for outdoor play

Crystal realizes that outdoor activities with her family don't require advanced planning — you just need to make sure you go out and have fun.

Above: Crystal, Adam and Bella enjoying the surf and sand at beautiful Crescent Beach. Below: Rob gardens with the kids.

One of the things that I loved about the four weeks that Today’s Parent was leading us through the Healthy Family Challenge was that it had us trying new and exciting things — both food and activities. 

Deanna Miller, the East Coast Healthy Family Challenge writer, and I were chatting last week about changes that we have seen in our families since taking the challenge and the things we need to keep working on. We decided to have a West Coast/East Coast challenge and encourage each other to “Go Play Outside” as much as possible throughout the week. 

Confession: I’m not really an “outdoorsy” person. I’d love to be, but I’m not. It’s something that I need to work on. Even as a child my mom had to rip the book out of my hand and push me out the door to play. My natural inclination is to stay at home and read, sew, write or crochet. Every time I do go play outside with the kids I have so much fun — it’s just something I have to remind myself to do or the day often slips by me. 

So how did my family and I take on this new challenge? Monday through Friday we got out every single day for walks (sometimes three or four of them), bike rides and/or playing at the park. Last Thursday I had the luxury of having a mommy-baby day so instead of driving to the grocery store, Adam and I walked the six kilometres to pick up the few items we needed for dinner that night.

The real fun came when the weekend hit. Mud Bay Park and Nature Reserve is a place that Rob and I have talked about visiting for years. As soon as Deanna and I challenged each other I knew it would be on our list of weekend activities. We drive past it on the freeway every time we cross the border down to the US, but there is no exit nearby and we had no idea how to get there. Saturday, armed with the GPS in our iPhones, we finally figured out how to get to Mud Bay Park. We walked along the three kilometre nature trail and saw tons of birds, rabbits and sea life.  

Next we headed across the bay to Crescent Beach where we walked along the boardwalk, found a nice place in the sand, danced along the water’s edge and skipped stones in the waves. Crescent Beach makes me want to take a “stay-cation” and rent a cottage by the water, but that’s another story. 

Sunday we stuck closer to home. We started the morning out by picking up some soil, compost and plants at the local farmer’s stand and doing some gardening around our house. 


Next we headed to a neighbour’s house where all the kids in the neighbourhood changed into their swimsuits, ran through the sprinkler and waded in an inflatable pool. 

Here’s the thing: You don’t need any special equipment to go play outside, you don’t need to drive anywhere, you don’t need to set aside a big chunk of time. Playing outside can be as simple as taking a 15 minute walk after dinner or stopping off at the park for 20 minutes on your way home from running errands. It can be as simple as knocking on a few neighbour’s doors and inviting everyone to come outside and play ball. Living a life where your motto is “Go Play Outside” doesn’t need a lot of planning and preparation, you just need to remind yourself to do it.

This week Deanna and I would like to challenge each and every one of you to go play outside. Snap a photo and tweet us at @sewcreativeblog and @deannacmiller with the hashtag #tpchallenge.

We can’t wait to read about the adventures you and your family have! 

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