The Secret to Happy Kids (and Dogs, Too)

Want to know what makes my kids come alive, use all of their senses, stop fighting (for the most part), and work as a team to help each other with challenges?  It’s this:

I so want to get outside every day this winter, unless its ridiculously cold. Each year I say this. I say I’ll bundle the kids up, go out for a half an hour, and we’ll run around to keep warm and we’ll play.  Truthfully, the kids would probably go for it, but I always chicken out.

This year I thought maybe I could do 15 minutes. But on day 1 of my plan, it was super cold and windy.  Amy, a homeschooling momma with far more experience that I, advised that we spend our 15 minutes looking out the window and noticing things, then drink hot chocolate. I am pretty sure she is a Naturalist at an actual Nature Center so I considered this very sound professional advice and we did just that.

And wouldn’t you know it, as we gazed out, it started to snow. Tons of flakes swirling around in the wind, sticking to everything in sight.  “I feel like I’m in a snow globe, Mommy!”, Firefly said smiling, looking out the window and up at the sky.  Little birds scurried around on the ground underneath the feeders. It was just us and those few little birds and the swirling, rushing snow.

Hot chocolate forgotten, kids and dog darted out the front door and ran around in the front yard. They were back in a flash for coats and mittens, then out again.  Then just as quickly as it had begun, it was gone. Wind swooshed in and blew the snowflakes around.  Landing on what must’ve been warmer streets, patios, and earth, they disappeared. We retreated back inside.  For two, maybe three days. I lost count.

Then it happened. Unseasonably warm weather. Sixty degree days. Two of them in a row.  We would make up for lost time. We grabbed the dog and her tennis ball and headed for the woods the first day.  The second day, today, we went here:

A new place for us. So much to explore. Full of new rocks to climb, new paths to take, little fish swimming in the water, and so much more.  They didn’t want to leave.


Here’s the dog just before she ran out onto an even longer dock and flung herself into the water.

She’s sleeping now, beside me as I type, all curled up and smelling of wet, happy dog.

I feel so grateful for these two warm, unseasonable days. Maybe the key to getting out in the winter is to just get as much as we can, when we can, and let it sustain us for those cold, cold days.  Hmmmm, I don’t know. We’ll keep at it and let you know how it goes.

Linking up with:
Fun Stuff Fridays

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This entry was posted in healthy living, homeschooling, Learning Spaces, life, nature, sanity. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Secret to Happy Kids (and Dogs, Too)

  1. eexpeditions says:

    Love this post. Those pictures are beautiful–a far cry from the desert where I live. 😛

  2. How lucky you are to live in such a beautifully, natural setting! Have you seen the Everyday Outside Play Challenge hosted by the blog, Greening Sam and Avery? I am taking part, but admittedly we got off easy bc we have mild winters in TX.

    I followed you over from Pinterest when I saw that you have pinned my blog!! So nice to see such a kind words about my blog!

  3. Lovely pictures! I’m so jealous. We love nature and love dogs, and if we had your woods, water and dog we’d be outside most of the time, no matter how cold it was! We’re stuck in a small town surrounded by cornfields and it gets so dull walking the same tired, dull 8 blocks to spend time outside. All of the kids desperately want a dog, but we have 5 kids, 5 cats and a tiny house and it’s just not in the cards for us. I do want to get out with the kids no matter what this winter, but with a new baby and such reluctant kids (and mama!), it already isn’t happening. My 8 y/o and 11 y/o were outside carving sticks into wands without me today, though. I’m glad they’re enjoying the weather despite me!

  4. Kylie says:

    Great post. I couldn’t agree more with you in your first few lines. Everyone seems at peace in nature 🙂

  5. Amy says:

    Great post, and it looks like you all had such a lovely week! I’m glad the advice I gave so casually one morning on Facebook led to your family’s enjoying a few flakes of early snow!

  6. Melanie says:

    We did the exact same thing!! Took our time this morning getting some chores finished. The kids made some field journals and off we went to the arboretum! We had a great time exploring – looking for animal tracks, ice, birds, habitats. We even spent time making a fairy house deep in the woods. Everyone was peaceful, confident, playful, and calmly happy. Absolute bliss.

  7. jolanthe says:

    We had an amazingly warm few days this week after some SERIOUSLY cold weather. The kids were so thrilled that on a 60 degree day our creek was still frozen from the day before. 🙂

  8. Martianne says:

    Awesome! Such a perfect day and so beautifully documented. I go in spurts of daily outdoor time, but, admittedly, get lazy as it can be more than I have patience for some days to get my three (six years and under) willfully bundled and outside at the same time. That said, every time I make the effort, I am glad I did.

  9. Lindsi B says:

    This is great! Would you please share this with our readers for Fun Stuff Fridays? http://www.toysinthedryer.com/2012/01/fun-stuff-fridays-6.html

  10. Lauren says:

    What fun exploring outdoors!!!

  11. Beth says:

    Good for you! My kids would love it to… I just dread getting all three coats, hats, boots on – plus myself. But I really should! Thanks for linking up to TGIF! See you next week,
    Beth =-)

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