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Let Spring Inspire New Activities

An excerpt from 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids by Rebecca P. Cohen:

"The bonding that comes with shared adventure is priceless."

- Martha Sears, coauthor of The Baby Book on Rebecca's book 15 Minutes Outside

Last spring, while the flowers bloomed and bright green leaves were bursting from the trees, my kids were not yet volunteering to run outside and play every day. Even though I kept our snow gear by the door (gradually adding umbrellas, boots, and other warm, waterproof gear), I still had to push myself to lead them outside every day. Fortunately, by encouraging my children to view their outdoor family time as something special, just for them, I reconnected with my own enthusiasm. I started noticing what the kids enjoyed doing, and making suggestions that suited each child. Or sometimes I simply asked, “What would be fun to do together outside right now?”

Even now, it usually falls on me to make suggestions of activities that will motivate my boys

to step outside, and I have to stay on my toes for those times when they finish one activity and the easiest choice for them is to go back inside. But I promise you, coming up with ideas gets easier over time. The more I observe about my children’s preferences and latest discoveries, the easier it is to propose new games or adventures when enthusiasm for a particular activity starts to fade.

I also learned to follow my kids’ leads whenever they had something to offer, letting them initiate where our next outdoor adventure would take us. The more I was able to look at the world through the eyes of my children—noticing a tadpole, hundreds of droplets on a tree after a rainstorm, or how happy they were riding their bikes around the neighborhood— the more I knew that I was doing the right thing for them and me. And I stopped feeling anxious about whether I was doing “well” at getting the boys outside every day. Our brief, local adventures continue to be very rewarding, and they’ve led to some amazing displays of childhood creativity and curiosity—two things I am eager to foster in my children.

Create Your Family’s Outdoor-to-Go Kit—and Try it Out! Be prepared for spontaneous adventures with a backpack full of what you and the kids want to have on hand: • Picnic blanket • Reusable water bottles • Non-perishable snack such as pretzels • Binoculars • Magnifying glass • Nature guide • Sunscreen and bug spray • Hand wipes • Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards (of course)

Keep one by the door and one in your car as a reminder to head outside for some fun. Put it together as a family and then go try it out!

Did you know? There are over 180 Spring and Summer activities for meaningful moments every day in 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids.

About Rebecca P. Cohen

Rebecca P. Cohen believes time outside transforms our lives for the better. PJ's Backyard Adventures is the latest project from Rebecca, author of the book 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks), and creator of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards. Rebecca’s work has been featured in countless media outlets, including USA Today, Parenting, Redbook, Working Mother, and Family Circle. In addition, Rebecca has appeared on live morning news shows around the country, and is also host of the video series, Get Out of the House, which shows fun ideas for time outside in every season. For Rebecca's inspiring blog and free downloads, visit