Many of the best old-fashioned family fun times are those spent outside. There are so many benefits of spending time together in nature, including exercise, Vitamin D, great light for family photos and encouraging ecological awareness. Here are some great old-fashioned ideas for all four seasons.
It is the season children and parents long for after months of bundling up, being cold and getting cabin fever. Spring can be a challenge with its temperamental weather, but with careful attention to appropriate clothing, spring can be the perfect time for an old-fashioned family time.
Jumping in puddles is the first activity which comes to mind. Children love to put on bright colored rain pants, coats and boots and who can resist the urge to make a giant splash! Be sure to get out your camera, when you aren’t dodging large drops of water.
Another great spring memory-builder is going to a nature conservatory or park. Watch the snow melt, the birds return and the ice break up on the water. Pack some hot chocolate if it’s a chilly day and have older children write or draw their discoveries in a nature journal.
Summer is often an ideal time for family adventures. Great weather, holiday time, and the opening of seasonal attractions naturally provide families with many choices. Consider these old-fashioned activities as opposed to an expensive, sugar-filled day at a theme park.
Camping takes careful planning an a van full of gear, but children love the chance to live outdoors and will likely remember camping trips for years or even a lifetime. Start easy with a night or two at a nearby campsite. If the children get sick or there is a thunderstorm, you can quickly pack up and head home if necessary. As children get older, they can help with packing and planning the trip, learning important critical thinking and organizational skills. Vary your camping destinations to include visiting a national park, camping in the desert or in the mountains. If you are confident in your canoeing skills, try canoeing to a camp sight on a lake.
Spend the day at the beach. Avoid costly and unhealthy foods by packing your own old-fashioned picnic. Load up the car with lots of beach activities like balls, Frisbees, books, cards, floating toys and don’t forget the sunscreen.
The fall is a fabulous time to visit a local pumpkin patch. Forget buying your pumpkin at the local grocery store and check the internet or your local newspaper for nearby farms that offer activities like pumpkin mazes, a real pumpkin patch, pumpkin carving and tours of the farm. Make a day out of it by packing a picnic lunch with thick sandwiches and lots of fruits and veggies. Again, don’t forget the camera for great photo opportunities.
Autumn is a wonderful time for hiking. You can avoid some of the busyness, heat and mosquitoes of summer trails. Check a local guide or information centre for trails that are easy enough for your children. Find trails that offer lots of variety in sights and trail. Make sure you and your children wear appropriate footwear and bring snacks and water to keep spirits high.
A delightful book for old-fashioned winter fun is Snow, by Roy McKie and P.D. Eastman. This book was originally published in 1962 and can serve as a great inspiration for family winter fun. In it the children make snowballs, taste snowflakes, dig and throw the snow, watch people take sleigh rides, make snow angels, go tobogganing, cross country ski, build a snow fort, feed the birds, and make a snow man. It is easy for adults to forget the joy of snow and winter activities, but somehow children love to remind us. Again, there is nothing as refreshing as a hot thermos full of sugared tea during a family winter activity. Make sure everyone is dressed warm and invite another family along to keep things interesting.
Admittedly, outdoor activities can be riddled with obstacles like insects, heat and cold, and weather surprises, but even the not-so-happy times of your old-fashioned family day can result in hilarious family stories to share later on.