Spending Time Together Strengthens Relationships

I have a confession to make: my husband is not outdoorsy. There are several reasons but the funniest is that he has bad luck with wildlife.

For example, we took some youth camping a couple years ago and one evening we laid out some tarps so we could relax next to the fire. Next thing I know my husband is flying up off the ground and a snake is slithering off in the other direction. A snake actually tried to snuggle up to my husband. That is just one of a litany of “bad luck with wildlife” stories.

But one of the ironies of life is how having children can change a person. We no longer only do things just to benefit ourselves but we start to gravitate toward activities that strengthen our family relationships. Last summer we did our first major family road trip and it was a game changer for my husband.

For our trip we did a combination of camping and hotels stays, but we quickly found that we enjoyed our time camping much more. Now I realize that it isn’t always practical to camp and that there are many beneficial and enjoyable indoor activities. But my husband and I have found that spending time outdoors together has many benefits; so much so, that my “indoorsy” husband seeks outdoor opportunities for us.

Here are just a few of the benefits we have found from spending time outdoors together:

  1. Discovering and learning together. Don’t miss seeing the look in your child’s eyes when they throw rock into a river for the first time. The world is an amazing place. Don’t miss the opportunity to share it with your children.
  2. Enhances problem solving skills. Part of being outdoors is encountering new situations. This gives children the opportunity to learn to adapt and an opportunity for us as parents to teach and exhibit this skill. How many times have you been camping, forgotten something and there wasn’t any way to purchase the needed item? So you adapt and get creative. Wonderful skill to pass on to our children.
  3. Learning to work together. When camping and spending time outdoors, the importance of work can be much more clear. There isn’t pizza only a phone call a way for dinner, there is no shelter unless you hike to or set one up, and warmth isn’t just a push of a button away. If you don’t work together, you don’t survive. Children can readily see the benefits of work and why it is essential.
  4. Creating memories. I think this is the #1 reason we spend time outdoors. We are away from technology, jobs, and many of the other distractions of everyday life and are able to more fully focus on each other. Memories are what children take with them into adulthood and what helps build strong family bonds.

Remember that outdoor activities can be simple. The important thing is to be outdoors together. river-walk

What benefits does your family see from spending time outdoors together?

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Mae Kiggins
There are not many places that I would rather be than outdoors. I grew up hiking and camping in the Rockies. In college I studied natural resources and worked as a park ranger, research assistant and policy intern. Now-a-days my adventures include my two children, 4 and 1, and husband. When my son was asked what he was thankful for he said camping. In the spring of 2014 I will begin the new adventure of teaching environmental studies at the college level.
Mae Kiggins

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