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Making time to explore the outdoors with kids in a busy life.

Updated: Nov 8, 2019

Busy. A common word I hear so often these days. The way our society has designed our lives leaves us with little room to enjoy time in nature. After a long week at work, and the kids with school and afternoon activities, we often feel too tired that we don’t want to make the necessary time to explore nature. At the end of the day, we get hooked in our routines, housework, work and other obligations that we forget to spend time outdoors.

When we moved to Airlie, our situations changed quite a lot. Sam started a new job. His job commitments don’t allow him to spend much time with us, and therefore we don't go on great adventures as often as we wish. Yes sure, we tried our best to at least go for a little walk but after two months living in our new town, we realized how hard it was going to be for us to plan a great adventure. It was clear to us that we needed a new strategy in order to explore again.

I then started to wonder how other people manage. A question started hovering in my head.....how do others make time to explore the outdoors with kids?

So, for this special post, I decided to contact adventurous families with the questions I had in mind.

In this special post, within the words of the following families, you will find great ideas and advice for making the time you need to explore the great outdoors.

The Daly venture family

Meet Vince & Maddie with Delilah (9), Jude (7). They live in Shellharbour, NSW, Australia. They are both professionals, Vince is an Engineer while Maddie a Learning Support Officer. We met this family through Instagram. The account goes under the name @the_daly_venture. Their adventures include exploring blue emerald waters inside caves. Their amazing photography has always captivated me, both for its composition and also the natural beauty of the places they visit, which often revolve around streams and mountains. Their favourite places are the wilderness areas on the south coast of NSW.

Dee, Jude and Maddie Liloing on the Wollangambe river in the Greater Blue Mountains

Here is what they share with us:

Being time poor is unfortunately all too familiar. For us, getting outside and off the beaten track comes down to prioritisation and a commitment to invest quality family time. We try to have multiple outings a week, one mid-week and a day on the weekend. The mid-week outing can be as simple as a trip to the beach, a waterfall, a sunset walk to a local lookout or getting out for some practice at the local crag. Our trick is when planning after school activities at the start of the term, we always try to have one free evening each week. The weekend outing can be variable based on other commitments both work and social. I travel a lot for work so we typically plan bigger outdoor exploration either side of work trips and make-up for lost time with occasional mid-week getaways taking annual or unpaid leave. Failure to start is the biggest challenge, but once out of the house and on the road, it’s easy.

To help us get out of the house we have our gear boxed per activity.

We have a list of places/activities which we have researched. This allows us to make last-minute decisions, normally the night before, based on weather conditions. To help us get out of the house we have our gear boxed per activity. For instance, we can be packed and headed camping within an hour of making the decision. Summers involve getting wet, the current activity of choice is cannoning both local and further afield. In winter, we split our time amongst mountain ascents, waterfalls, caves and passes. As our capability has increased we seem to be exploring less known or trackless walks.

The Cook’s family: from reef to creeks.

I met Tracey when I participated in the seaside writing group in Townsville. When the leader of the seaside writing group left, she left us in charge of the group in Townsville. We both share a passion for writing. Her family are nature warriors and fight for the reef. They also like exploring the great outdoors and hiking. Tracey, Nathan and their two teenagers are based in Townsville, North Queensland. She is a yoga Instructor and School Support Liasion at Yoga Tools For Schools. Her partner is a marine ecologist. Their kids are both in high school. As you can imagine they also have very busy lives. Their favourite places to visit are Crystal Creek in Paluma and Alligator Creek near Townsville.

Below, Tracey explains how they make time to explore nature.

"Living in a family of marine scientists, we are outside a lot. Having teenagers with very busy lives, the best way, we have found, to get active outside is to get involved in organizations and projects that support healthy natural environments. Both of our teenagers have completed Reef Check Australia Ambassador training, so we attend a lot of beach and dive site clean ups in Far North Queensland where we live. This allows us to explore areas around the Whitsunday Islands and Cairns while also being involved in community activities that help the environment.

Having teenagers with very busy lives, the best way, we have found, to get active outside is to get involved in organizations and projects that support healthy natural environments.

We plan ahead to create time to do things like trekking. Recently we completed the Thorsbourne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island. We booked it 4 months in advance, and worked together to organize and execute the trip, which gave the kids valuable skills in planning, packing, and spending 4 days with only what is necessary to survive. It was an amazing trip!

Our favourite places for day trips are Crystal Creek in Paluma and Alligator Creek just outside Townsville. These are easy to get to from where we live, and a lovely day out in nature with beautiful places to swim. We get there early (7-8am) to beat the crowd and have quiet time to ourselves there as a family.

Image provided by Tracey. The Cook's at Hinchinbrook Island

It is completely worth the effort of planning in advance to get out and enjoy the nature around us. The benefits of ‘unplugging’ from technology are immense, and we only realize this once we enter the forest or the ocean and absorb what they have to share with us. "

So there you have it. A central theme among all these adventurous families is organisation and research. Get to know where you can go in your area, how long a time frame you need to explore the area, what you will need to take, and also organise within your family's schedule to make this time available. We will definitely do a list of places to go and organise our gear in labeled boxes for our next adventure!

Thanks for reading!


Edited by Sam Penglase


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