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11 Fun Outdoor Activities to Entertain Your Kids

Now that summer’s almost here, it’s time to put away the iPad and enjoy the great outdoors with our kids!

I’m not saying that you and your family need to partake in extreme sports; I am saying that you need to get outdoors. From a simple game in the backyard to a family camping trip, there are quite a few fun outside activities that will not only keep the kids entertained and active, but you too!

You don’t always need to spend a fortune on family fun, but you do need a good imagination and some energy (hello coffee—or sports drink!) to keep up with the kids! Here are 11 fun outdoor activities to enjoy the summer months with your favorite little people:

1. Backyard Camping

No need to go to the woods for a campout—just have one in your backyard! Don’t have a tent? Build a fort outside with old bed sheets and a few cushions.

If building a small fire isn’t an option, heat up some marshmallows in the kitchen—for s’mores of course! Throw in some more camping-type snacks (beef jerky, trail mix, etc.), some ghost stories, and a ball or frisbee to throw around, and you’re good to go!

2. Green Thumbs

This is for all you gardeners out there—get your kids involved in the garden too! It’s not only a fun activity for you and the kids, but it’s also a chance to combine fun and learning.

Give each child some seeds of their own to plant. Teach them how to water and tend to the plant as it grows. This fun activity helps teach kids a sense of responsibility for taking care of other living things (a great first step for that puppy they keep demanding!).

3. Kid-Friendly Paintball

If water balloons and paintball had a baby, this would be it! Fill the balloons with non-toxic, water-soluble paint, wear some old white t-shirts, and let the fun begin! Run around the grass and try to hit each other with as many balloons as possible, all while avoiding getting hit yourself.

Whoever has the least amount of paint on their t-shirt wins! This is the perfect game for some backyard fun or to play at a local park (just be sure to wash down the grass after the game is over).

4. Go Fish!

Fishing is not only fun, it’s an important survival skill. Plus, it teaches your kids to work for their food, helps them learn patience, and allows them to get hands-on with nature (and a little dirty!): putting worms on the hook, taking the fish off the hook, cleaning and filleting their catch—or throwing it back, depending on your own comfort level.

Find a local lake or river where fishing is allowed, and look up the rules for getting a fishing license—usually a simple process. Or if you live seaside and your budget permits, you might even consider taking the family deep sea fishing!

5. Take a Hike

Instead of relying on the tablet to keep your kids occupied, let nature take the lead. If you’re lucky, there should be a nature reserve nearby; if not, you may have to take a drive out of town. Either way, it’s worth it.

You’ll find that there’s plenty along the trail to keep them entertained, and a little physical activity never hurt anybody! Look up the trails ahead of time and choose a hike that meets your family’s comfort level—from a one-mile loop to a mountain hike, there are options for all activity levels! Just remember to stick to the marked trail and allow for plenty of daylight to finish the hike.

6. Slip ‘n Slide—Without Water

Say what?! Water is a precious thing and we shouldn’t waste it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun. Use shaving cream instead! Slipping down the slide will be just as fun (create a simple slip ‘n slide by spreading some plastic sheeting over the grass in your yard).

But don’t just watch—unleash your inner child and join your kids!

7. Play a Sport

Soccer, touch football, tennis, swimming—the list is endless. You and the kids can get some fun exercise (and it’ll tire them out for an early bedtime, fingers crossed!).

8. Have an Archery Tournament

All you need is some paint, a bull’s eye, and the kids’ toy bow and arrows. This activity is great for children’s hand-eye coordination, and hey—parents can show off their archery skills too!

9. Host a Family Olympics

Get the whole family involved and be creative with the sports and activities you include. Pair up with your kids so that each team has an adult and a kid (or three!)—or do kids vs. parents for the ultimate face-off!

10. Arts and Crafts

We could all do with some useful DIY projects now and then. Why not get the kids involved? They could help paint or assemble their playhouse, or even make some useful things for your home. Head out to the arts and crafts supply store for some kid-friendly home decor ideas.

11. Family Cookout

Family barbeques are always fun. Teach the kids some of your favorite family recipes and incorporate some of these outdoor activities into the day—whether it’s in your backyard or on a fun family vacation.

Imagination and Creativity is Where It’s At!

The sky’s the limit when it comes to outdoor activities. With some imagination and creativity, fun can be had by the whole family. Now that the weather is nice, get out there and enjoy some sunshine.

Don’t forget to snap some pictures to capture the moment!

Goals happiness joy

Choosing Joy: Tips for Living More Joyfully

Happiness. That’s what life is all about, isn’t it?

Many of us are chasing it, in one way or another. From that coworker who is always so cheerful in the morning to the teenager trying to find their path in this world, we’re all just trying to be happy.

You’ve probably heard people say, “I choose to be happy.” They make it sound so easy! Surely we would all choose to be happy if we could? But if they can do it, what’s stopping you? Let’s dig into the science of joy—and how to make happiness your choice.

Joy and the Brain

According to an article by Dr. Marianna Pochelli, the brain has several chemical systems that contribute to “feel good” emotions such as optimism and relief from guilt, regret, shame, anxiety, and agitation. Some of these hormones include dopamine (the reward hormone), endorphins (natural pain relievers), and serotonin (the mental relaxation hormone). Although there are many drugs—both legal and illegal—that produce similar effects, there is no single chemical for joy in the brain or in the pharmacy.

So, if you can’t trick your brain into releasing a chemical for joy, what can you do to start feeling happy today?

How to Live More Joyfully

The key to living more joyfully now is to make a conscious, continual decision to not only engage in mood-boosting activities, but to think about things that make you happy. Yes, there are a few frustrations in life (like walking into the messy living room you just cleaned—thanks, kids!), but one technique is to try to avoid any negative thoughts or activities that bring you down.

According to neuroscientist Rick Hanson, our brains are wired to pay attention to negative things more than the positive. That’s how we evolved—and survived. That means that one has to make a conscious effort to feel happy. To rewire one’s brain, in a way. Some people have to work harder at it than others, and of course what makes one person feel happy might actually be hell on earth for another. Here are a few suggestions for living more joyfully:

1. Stay Away from Negative People

Misery loves company, so you may have to reevaluate your friend circle. Avoiding people who are not only negative but who drain your energy as well will go a long way in ensuring your happiness. Set boundaries and keep those people at a distance as much as possible. Spend time with those who make you smile and feel good, and nurture those relationships. You want to surround yourself with people who add value to your life.

2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

It’s easy to let day-to-day stresses affect your life, but chances are these things won’t matter in the long run. One mantra to live by is, “If it won’t matter a year from now, don’t let it bother you today.” Admittedly, this mentality may take a while to adopt, but staying focused on your long-term goals should help keep your mood upbeat.

3. De-Clutter Your Space

How could cleaning up your home make you feel more joyful? Well, do you ever just look around your home or office and feel a sense of dread, frustration, or disgust? Every moment you experience those feelings is a moment you are living without joy—and considering the amount of time we spend at home or in the office, that’s a lot of non-joyful moments in your life.

4. Focus on the Silver Lining

Sure, certain aspects of our lives can get us down: a stressful job, debt, unsuccessful business ventures, or the kids’ looming college tuition. While you work towards fixing your problems, try to focus on what’s going well in your life. Do you have loving family and friends? Do you have a job with great benefits? Are you healthy? Incorporate gratitude into your daily routine for the good things in your life.

Choosing Joy: Mindfulness is Key

Mindfulness means focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while being conscious and accepting of one’s thoughts and feelings.

Yoga or meditation might be your thing, or it might not. But you don’t have to meditate to practice mindfulness. You can, however, wake up 15 minutes earlier (I know every minute of sleep is precious for us moms!), or take 10 minutes in the shower to stay still and be aware of your thoughts and feelings (if your toddler isn’t barging in).

It’s really all about taking the time and making a conscious decision to think joyfully. Easier said than done—but as with all things in life, practice makes perfect.