Wooded path with Title in white font: 4 Top Tips for Taking Your Grandkids On Outdoor Adventures

Four Top Tips for Taking Your Grandkids On Outdoor Adventures

Forest scene with the text: Engaged Grandparenting Despite Pain: 4 Top Tips for Taking Your Grandkids on Outdoor Adventures; teal colored water lilly icon on white circle over the text painfullyliving.com

The outdoors is one of the greatest places to teach kids about the wider world and is good not just for the body, but the mind as well. Making a concerted effort to get kids out from behind their screens and into the fresh air can seem like an unwinnable challenge. Especially if you yourself struggle to get around most days due to chronic conditions as I do. 

On the whole, though, the benefits will always outweigh the risks, especially for a child’s long term development. As a grandparent, you may have the time and ability to show your grandchildren the wonder of the great outdoors.  I have found it to be one of our favorite things to do with our granddaughter who lives in an apartment with her parents in a small city.  While they do family outings when they can, my husband and I can use our times with her to especially encourage her to be curious about nature.  We are seeing her grow in love, comfort, and interest in all things to do with getting into the wild. In addition, we are building memories and bonds through our adventures that will never be erased.

However,  taking a young child (we started at age two or so with her), isn’t as easy as just heading out into the woods.  I’ve included four tips to make your times go smoothly so that you have an enjoyable time together as you venture outside.

Plan ahead

Especially if you are someone living with a long-term chronic condition you must make sure to plan ahead before you go charging off into the woods. Make sure someone who can come and get you knows where you are going and how they can reach and be reached by you. Plan your route carefully so that you aren’t going to difficult to access areas that may exacerbate any problems you have that day. Plan for the weather also as you don’t want a cold and wet day to ruin any fun you may have had planned. Pack the right kit to keep the fun going.

Make it an interactive experience

Kids can get bored easily if all they are doing is walking. Plan for some interactive moments during the trip, such as bird or bug watching. Getting the kids to partake in the trip rather than just being on it is the best way for them to enjoy it and to start getting them wanting to go back. Turn the trip into a game. See who can spot the most unique birds or bugs or who can spot the most rabbits. Get them thinking about the area they’re in and they’ll come to love it.

My granddaughter loves to play make-believe. We are often superhero fairies or pirates. We just follow her lead and the storyline always is fascinating. Many times she and I hide behind a tree while grandpa searches for us. We’re ever so sneaky! We learn so much about what she thinks about and finds important during these walks in the woods.

Start small and build-up

If you are someone living with a chronic illness and aren’t used to the outdoors, you know not to go charging into the nearest forest. You don’t have to be out for hours to appreciate the wilderness. Start with taking the kids somewhere local first, such as a nearby field or walk around the block. You need to find your limits before you can start to really enjoy the fresh air. Keep your walks to 20-30 minutes then, after a while, try 45. Then an hour. Slow and steady wins the race.

We love planning for breaks. Her “Bapa” is a cookie monster. So is she. So he packs their favorite cookie so that they can have a cookie break about halfway through. If you’re on a longer adventure, having a book downloaded to your phone to read aloud is also a favorite. One fun trip involved collecting beautiful leaves of different types. Leaf Snap is one phone app that you can use to identify plants.

Pack what you need

Just like planning ahead you need to pack the essentials on your little day trips. Food, drink bad weather gear, all this needs to be taken into account before you leave the house. Are you going to be outside long enough to need medication? Are you going to need food or drink for your blood sugar levels? Do you have the means to contact someone should the need arise? What about sunglasses when out and about during summer? If you struggle carrying a large amount of weight for long periods of time then this is going to limit your outdoor trips quickly. Especially if you are out for several hours at a time.

Ideas for what to pack

  • Small First Aid Kit with a whistle for emergency
  • Water bottles and extra water or water filter & small drink mixes
  • Sunblock
  • Hard or chewy candies-great for a short break
  • Light lunch: Peanut butter & jelly tortilla rollups hold up well and are yummy
  • Baggies for found treasures

The times we have spent outside with our granddaughter, noticing bugs, picking wildflowers, watching an eagle fly overhead, or conversing with the loons on the lake have been my favorite times with her.  Sure, we play games on her tablet (have you heard of My Talking Tom games; they’re funny!) and do inside activities like coloring or baking, but our times spent outside have really been magical.  And that’s the way to a kid’s heart, sharing in wonder and magic.

Misty mountain background with the text: This is a sponsored post via fatjoe.com with affiliate links to products that I use or have researched and find valuable.

What are some of your favorite outdoor experiences that you have had with your children or grandchildren? Share your stories so that we can add to our idea-collections!

I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.  However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through as planned.  Thank you for your understanding.

My granddaughter says “Sharing is caring.” 🙂

White background with teal waterlily icon and the phrase Pain FULLY Living: Living FULLY Despte Pain.

FULLY Engaged Grandparenting Despite Living with Pain

FULLY Engaged Grandparenting Despite Living with Pain

 
 


Being a grandparent is one of the biggest joys that anyone can have in life. Being able to spend time with a new little love can knock your socks off when it’s been years since you last spent extended time with children. However, if you want to spend time with your grandchildren, you need to be the best you can be. Your time and your effort put in are both going to shape your grandchildren in the future – your role is key!

There are some ways that you can be a fantastic grandparent, but the key point here is that by being yourself, you are already fantastic. Your grandchildren will love spending time with you, as long as you are taking care of yourself. Chronic pain coming from Fibromyalgia can steal away special moments with your grandchild if you haven’t found ways to manage it.

Two years ago, I was overwhelmed by the symptoms of Fibromyalgia: constant, roving full-body pain, deep within the muscles and joints; utter exhaustion making any action seem herculean, and thick brain fog making my thoughts and language disjointed.  I’ve come a long way since that time, finding my way due to the help of a multi-disciplinary pain management program such as the one at  Sound Pain Solutions. Mine involved a pain psychologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, and pain medical doctor, through working together, guided my journey through education on mind/body connection with how I can rewire my brain to help manage pain.

 

 

My wellness journey over these past two years has been fueled by my desire to be with my granddaughter and to be active in her life. My current protocol using Low Dose Naltrexone, full-spectrum CBD, meditation, Yin Yoga, swimming, taking walks, and being mindful to take breaks to rest both mind and body are allowing me to be fully engaged as a grandparent.

 

Related Wellness Journey Posts:

The Benefits of Being a FULLY Engaged Grandparent

 

By being able to get my FM symptoms managed and able to be more predictable and present, I am now the grandparent that I want to be.  The benefits of the time my husband and I put into our granddaughter are innumerable. (As a granddaughter who was close to my own grandparents, I know first hand how that relationship guided my life, making me strong and self-confident.) Research has shown that the connection is reciprocal.

 

1. Reduces depressive symptoms in both

2. Grandparents (GPs) can give exposure to experiences and ideas that otherwise might be limited.

3. GPs give a first-hand understanding of family history.

4. A close connection helps grandchildren develop pro-social behavior.

5. GPs keep mentally sharp, active, and live longer when regularly interacting with their grandchildren.

6. Creates a deep unconditional love for both.

 

 

 

How to Be a FULLY Engaged Grandparent

 

Communicate: To be the best grandparent, you need to communicate with the parents – ie, your children! You need to ask them their rules, their routines, and their wishes for their children so that you can play them out, too. It’s polite to ask your children what they want for their children, even with your years of experience! You may have been a parent for most of your life, but it’s time for your children to make their decisions. If you want to make sure that life runs smoothly, you need to go with their wishes. 

 

Dark haired woman, blond young girl, and bearded man all wearing sunglasses

My husband and I had the opportunity to really

get to understand my son and daughter-in-law’s

parenting goals and style when they lived

with us for two years. We have great respect  

for how they are raising our granddaughter.

They, in turn, have come to fully trust

that what we do strengthens and enhances

growing our little girl. We stay in constant communication,

even while she’s with us via text, photos, audio clips, and videos.
 

Be Silly: Grandparents are great for baking and gardening and cuddles, but there is nothing wrong with a little silliness, too! You can have all of the fun with none of the responsibility, and you get to hand the sticky, glittery, jelly-filled children back to their parents at the end of the night! As the silly, fun grandparent, you can always get the attention and love from your grandchildren, and the memories you’ll make will last you a lifetime.

 

Young girl  with hair in messy bun, wearing a headlamp & using an magnifying glass
My husband and I take our granddaughter’s lead. 
Her imagination astounds us. 
Here we are dressed ready to catch “Greenie,”
the mischievous, naughty, super-villain that seems
to plague our house and yard.
I used to hate role-playing and make-believe, 
but now, I find acting like a kid with her 
to be invigorating. I watch in amazement 
as I see her thoughts percolating
behind her ever animated, blue eyes.

 

Love Your Limitations: When you’re grandparenting in pain, you only need to honor your limits and respect the pain you’re in. On bad pain days, choose activities that involve more reading together, movie nights and cuddles, and on good days you can get down on the floor and play with the train set. You don’t have to choose to feel guilty for respecting your limitations. You can teach your grandchildren a little patience and teach them about you at the same time.

 
Grandmother cuddling granddaughter on a couch
With my husband and I both retired, we often tag team.  When I’m getting worn out, Bapa might take her for a walk to the garden to visit the white frog she’s named Ghost who lives in the rain barrel there. Or he may take a snooze when she and I are doing a craft or playing a game.  But some times, especially when she spends the night, we have to let her know we need to take it easy.  We love watching kitty vs balloon videos on YouTube, read books, or watch a good movie on Disney+.
(It’s also a great excuse for extra snuggles!)

 

 

Don’t Worry About The Mess: Those grandchildren of yours are going to step into your house and leave it a paint-covered, glitter-bombed showroom. You can love the mess or reject it, but the best thing to do is embrace it. The house will be loud once more, and that’s exciting!

 

Blond haired young girl wearing fairy costume
When our granddaughter leaves, we often joke
as we look around the house
that the miniature tornado has hit; toys and dress-up
outfits are strewn everywhere.
Our new dining room table has glitter embedded
into the wood grain. There’s a bit of nail polish on the
chair, but you know, we don’t care. It’s just
evidence that we have had a wonderful time together.
 

We, grandparents, are lucky to have the chance to know our grandchildren. We have the opportunity to be fully engaged when we are with them (even more so than parents who have all the responsibilities that go along with parenthood). However, some of my friends don’t have the luxury that my husband and I have because their grandchildren don’t live nearby. Thank goodness for technology. It’s worth buying a special set up so that you are able to talk to them with video regularly. During the past few months of quarantining due to COVID-19, people are getting creative ways to use video chatting: 10 Activities to Make Family Video Calls Fun for Kids.

 

I’d love to start a whole section of blog posts on FULLY Engaged Grandparenting. If you have any stories, activities, suggestions, tips to being a FULLY Engaged grandparent (especially if you are also dealing with a chronic illness that can be an obstacle), I’d love for you to share them with me either in the comments section or by sending me an email (see contact me).