In today’s day and age, technology plays an inevitable role in our children’s lives. I’m not blind to it. I run an education technology company after all. That being said, I think it’s important to be observant and recognize when it becomes time to step away from the screens and take things outdoors. While I love technology and the amazing opportunity it offers our kids today; I also love nature.
California’s beautiful weather and diverse landscapes within a few hours of each other are actually one of the aspects that made me the most excited to be able to raise a family in the Los Angeles area. My passion for electronics directly competes with a person’s ability to embrace nature though so I always try to be extremely cognizant of when we reach our digital fill or when my kids need to unplug. It requires me to actively monitor their intake as well as my own, but I also appreciate the way it opens the door for us to connect as a family though too. Having a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old though, I know camping trips don’t always sound as enticing to them as it does to me. Therefore, I developed a few best practices over the years to get my kids to embrace their greener sides.
If you make an active lifestyle the norm, your kids become less connected to the digital realm. It’s simple. This is the normal they always knew so they are a lot more likely to embrace it. I know it’s unrealistic to cut all tech from your kids live, but try to immerse them in nature as often as you immerse them in a tv show in those earlier years. It will prevent an uphill battle later.
Consider What Your Kids Enjoy
My son loves to skateboard. He could do it for days on end, and while it wasn’t always my first choice, it became something that we could do together and outside. While you shouldn’t expect me to be dropping kickflips anytime soon, I have grown to really enjoy it. It’s relaxing, and I like being able to make that common ground with him. He’s also a lot less likely to be checking a phone or tablet when he’s doing something he enjoys to the same degree.
Walk Before You Run
Start slow. Let your kids adjust to bugs and making messes before you throw them in head-first into an entirely unplugged camping trip. Otherwise, you set everyone up for failure. Unlike our generation, for our kids, the digital world is the norm. This pushes them out of their comfort zone, and it’s important to be considerate of their feelings. Like Melissa, the founder of Adventure Tykes says, “Make sure the distance and difficulty of the hike is appropriate for your fitness level. A hike can seem much longer than anticipated, especially, if you are carrying your tyke for the first time…even for the 20th time.”
Sometimes You Have to Push
Every parent has to put their foot down now and then. While the aforementioned tips might make your task easier, there will still be days where everyone’s a little stubborn. Sometimes you might enjoy your hikes more than other times, but as Mike Lanza says, “Let’s face it: Hiking, camping, or doing almost anything outdoors with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers is often more work than fun. Don’t get discouraged; take them out anyway. If you wait until they’re older, you may find that your child isn’t interested.”