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Spend time outside to create family memories

Being able to breathe fresh air, connect with nature and engage in physical exercise are just a few of the benefits of being outside. Therefore, it is no wonder that parents often want their children to play outside during the summer months.

One of the best ways to get children outside is to go outside with them. Time spent outside together can create lasting memories that strengthen family bonds.

One challenge to getting the entire family outside is finding an activity everyone will enjoy. Parents might start by thinking of simple outdoor activities that they did as a child. Flying a kite, for example, can encourage family discussion and bonding by allowing parents to tell stories of their own childhood experiences. Children love to hear stories of their parents when they were little. These types of stories also encourage family bonding by helping children to know and understand their parents better.

Another way to involve the whole family in an outdoor activity is to make sure everyone takes part in the planning. For example, plan a picnic in your backyard, and let everyone help decide on the menu, prepare the food and pack the basket.

Creating a variety of active and relaxing experiences can also help get everyone outside. For example, create an obstacle course in your yard by using what you have around; any toy that can be run around or jumped over can work. If it is a hot day, add the sprinkler. Going on walks or bike rides can also be a great way to bond as a family.

Be sure to include some relaxing places to spend outdoor time together. Find a shady area and bring out some old blankets and pillows and read a story together.

Whatever a family enjoys doing together, turning it into a ritual can be beneficial. For example, let Friday night be “Family Fun Night” where, during the summer, each family member rotates picking their favorite outdoor activity to do together. Creating a ritual gives families something to look forward to and a sense of security in knowing that they can count on that time together. Rituals allow children to create their own memories and stories that they can then pass on to their children.

Advice is from Erin Boyd-Soisson, associate professor of human development and family science at Messiah College.

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