With all of the fun fall weekend activities, sometimes we forget about the many ways during the week to get our kids outside. There are rituals that we can start with our kids, if you haven’t already, that squeeze in time outside even with our busy schedules.

Walking or biking to school is a wonderful way to have outside time before school. Just bundle up with a warm jacket and gloves; don’t forget to adjust your helmet to fit a hat underneath, and you’re ready for some exercise on your way to and from school.

If walking or biking isn’t possible, consider letting the kids eat breakfast outside and have at least 15 minutes to play when they get ready quickly. Sometimes the promise of outside play time is all the motivation my kindergartener and second grader need to dress, make lunch, and ensure their bag is ready to go in a flash.

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Of course there is after-school time as well, which can be hard, depending on how much homework and after school activities kids have, or how dark it is when you get home. Keep a blanket in the car for spontaneous picnic dinners; drive by the park on the way home; let the kids do their homework outside. I even invite a friend or two over for homework time – it actually helps my kids fuss less about doing their work, and then they have more time to play outside.

A nighttime walk can take more motivation for all of us at times, but with a dog in the family, I make sure everyone comes with me when we walk him. And with flashlights and glowsticks in hand, we have fun watching the creatures that come out at night. Together, we see more starry skies too.

With our kids, let’s continue to think creatively about the things we do every day, and ask ourselves if some of our routine can be done outside.

Rebecca P. Cohen is Founder and President of Rebecca Plants LLC, is a gardening and outdoor lifestyle company that inspires families to be outside and improve their well being. For her weekly online video series, “Get Out of the House” as well as Starla J. King’s guest blog series “Savoring Summer,” visit http://www.rebeccaplants.com.

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Published: October 29, 2009