Social distancing is required to slow the rate of infection of COVID-19. However, that does not mean that we must stay inside 24/7. It is OK to go outside and enjoy the fresh air. In fact, it is even encouraged because of the health benefits that being active provides. Since my son’s college shutdown and move to online learning, he takes daily walks. We all need to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible for the sake of our physical and mental health.
As much as my family enjoys walking, there are many more ways to enjoy the outdoors. The key is to be creative and mix it up a bit. The activities in this list are designed for you to do with only the members of your household, as we must remain compliant with the social distancing and lockdown requirements of the CDC, your state, and your town or county, including rules related to social distancing and shared outside spaces.
1. Hanging out in your backyard
Whether your backyard is big or small, there are many things that you can do out there. Pull out those classic backyard games that you have stored away for the winter such as horseshoes and badminton. You can also create a nature scavenger hunt. If you have a telescope, stargaze in the evening. Or, simply relax in a patio chair and chat, read, journal, use your devices, or have a meal.
2. Teaching Outside
When I was in college, when weather permitted, the professors would occasionally hold class outside. Here in Illinois it is still a bit chilly, but warmer days will be here soon. Option 1. Sit out on your patio, deck, or balcony while you teach at home. Use your child’s tree house or playhouse or sit on the grass in your yard. Option 2. Use the outdoors as inspiration. In addition to teaching outside, create lessons based on what you see outside. You can develop a variety of math, science, and writing lessons just from the things happening in your own yard.
3. Driving to Nowhere
When I was a kid, on Sundays after church, we sometimes would go for long rides in the country and enjoy the scenery. Take a drive every now and then. Crack the windows and let the fresh air in. If you have a teen or young adult who has a learner’s permit, this is a great time to let them practice.
4. Walking the Dog
I bet Fido has become immensely popular-- everybody wants to walk him! Walking your dog has many benefits for your pup. Not only does a walk give them physical exercise, but they use their minds as they sniff and analyze all the new scents that they smell along the walk.
Whether you plant a few herbs in individual pots or you create a vegetable garden in your backyard, gardening allows you to connect with nature and teach your child a valuable skill. If you do not have supplies, on your next grocery store run, grab some packets of seeds. You do not need to go to a specialty store as most grocery stores have the basic supplies needed to start an herb garden or to plant flowers.
According to my husband, ribs are essential to life. He grabbed some when he loaded up on groceries. I know he will be outside grilling very soon! Whether you enjoy grilling ribs, burgers, chicken, fish, or veggies, grilling will get you outside, and your family will have a meal reminiscent of the summer.
7. Camping in Your Backyard
Dust off that tent and put it up in your backyard. You do not have to spend the night in the tent, but you can certainly hang out there for a while with your family and have a bit of fun. No campfire is needed to have an enjoyable time. Play board games, play cards, tell stories, sing “campfire songs,” or eat the food you made on the grill.
The world of running is full of 5Ks and other fun themed races, and there are several programs for beginners. While no races are being held now, now is the time to start to prepare for races later on in the year when restrictions on social distancing have been lifted. You can check out the Couch to 5K app or follow the Jeff Galloway program to get started safely for your current physical condition. And if you’re not ready to run, race walking has many health benefits and can be just as much fun.
9. Bike Riding
Take a bike ride with your kids. This is another way to get exercise and have fun while enjoying the fresh air. Check out the All Trails app for new trails that you have yet to explore.
10. Decorating Your Sidewalk
Unleash your artistic side and put a smile on the faces of the other people walking down your street by decorating your sidewalk with chalk or sidewalk paint. You can usually pick up some sidewalk chalk at your grocery store or pharmacy. You can find inspirational quotes on Pinterest or simply draw from the heart. By the way, this is an activity for ALL ages!
Stacey Montgomery, Founder
Stacey M Design and Stacey Montgomery Publishing
©2020. Stacey Montgomery. All rights reserved.