How often do you spend all week coming up with an outdoor adventure plan, spend Friday night packing for it, and spend Saturday morning urging your not-so-excited kid out the door? They are reluctant. They want to watch Saturday morning cartoons. If your family was a ship- they aren’t on board.
I know this kid…cause well, I was this kid. And while most of my kids are still in the never-ending energy stage of toddler hood and raring to go at 7 a.m. I know we are going to have our challenges, even if we do it all right.
Here are things that help:
1. Share your Vision
Vision is this: knowing what you are doing, how you are doing it and most importantly WHY you are doing it. King Solomon once said, “Where there is lack of vision, the people perish.” As the parents, we need to be excited and communicate that excitement to our kids. Whenever my kids are draggin’ their feet, I start by asking myself, “how am I acting right now?”Am I the grouchy mommy, running around the house, dishing out orders for getting gear in the car, breakfast cooked, and kids clothed? Am I short and snappy with my words?
If I doing this, what am I communicating to my kid? That family adventures are stressful, hard, hurried, and the cause of all sorts of parental “toddler-like” behavior. Our very own actions are setting us up for failure and failing to communicate the joy, excitement, and old fashioned fun of getting outdoors!
2. Include them in the Mission
Mission is part two of vision: it is the actions which express our vision. As humans we are innately mission driven. We want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We want to be included. The outdoors provide a playground in which the family unit can be united in profound ways. As the parents- the drivers of this coach called adventure- we need to call our kids into the mission, ask them to be a part of it, share with them your hopes and fears for the day, let them know they are a part of making it a success.
In our home we have what is called a “family campfire.” If Mom or Dad yells “family campfire,” we rush into a huddle, hold hands, and listen to what Dad or Mom has to say. These usually come during the pre-adventure rush. We explain to the kids our goal for the next couple of hours, give them specifics as to how they can be a part of it, and send them each off with a task. These are also great when you need to bring some focus to a moment when you feel you are trying to herd cats out the door.
3. Encourage Lavishly
Encourage before you go, encourage as you go, encourage when you return. Call attention to tasks they did well. Talk about your next trip out.
Often this one is hardest for me. Why? Because in order to really encourage, we have to mean it. And it isn’t that I didn’t think my kids did things well. It is that when we get home I am too tired to notice, or while we are on our trip I am too distracted to pay attention. So take a moment to really observe your kid. Make a mental note of things as you go..or better yet, just share that praise the moment it comes to mind.