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Give your week a boost: plan to spend time outside

by Meagan Francis on April 7, 2014

We’ve started dedicating Monday mornings to a single tip or simple idea to get your week off to a better start. Enjoy! -Meagan

plan a better week

Yesterday was a lovely day here in Southwest Michigan. The sun shone brightly, the birds sang. The kids biked up and down our alley frantically, as though trying to expel four months’ worth of pent-up energy. 

Which, to a certain extent, I guess they were. Luckily my boys get a decent opportunity to burn off steam between school recess, gym, walking to and from school, sports, etc; but there’s no doubt that we’ve been way more sedentary this winter than we usually are. And poor Clara has hardly been outside at all. I guess at some point, when it became too difficult to maneuver our ice- and snow-covered yard and we were on the 30th below-freezing day in a row and I hadn’t seen the sun in at least a week, I just gave up on the outdoors.

If you also live in one of the regions hard-hit by this year’s winter, maybe you can relate. And hopefully, you are now seeing signs of life, like I am: Sun. Birds. Grass (brown and dead though it may be.)

If so, it’s definitely time to go soak up some of that vitamin D-boosting sunshine, smell the spring air and get the kind of mental boost only those first warm early spring days can deliver.

But if you’re like me, maybe you’ve also gotten a little…out of habit when it comes to going outside. Maybe it almost feels like you’ve forgotten how! If so, here are some ideas to get you back in the spring mentality:

One of my favorite old pictures of William and Owen on a springtime trip to Lake Michigan.

One of my favorite old pictures of William and Owen on a springtime trip to Lake Michigan.

  • Plan a summer-like outing. Throw on a sweatshirt and roll up your jeans, and a trip to the beach is a perfectly appropriate excursion for a cool spring day. Botanical gardens, hiking trails, and zoos can also offer a unique (and often not very crowded) early-spring experience. 
  • Eat outdoors. The first thing I want to do when the weather gets nice is haul out the grill! You can totally pull off an outdoor meal at the last minute by planning a simple meal of brats or hot dogs, or just reimagine one of the meals you might have made this week for the grill. (Got chicken breasts? Check out this great recipe for Santa Fe foil-pack grilled chicken.) Or if your grill and/or outdoor seating area aren’t quite in working order yet, pack up a bag of sandwiches and take them to the park.
  • Walk somewhere. I’m big on the aimless meander around the block, but I also find that sometimes having a destination in mind helps me go from thinking about taking a walk to actually walking. Some ideas: walk the kids to school or the bus stop, or to the post office or grocery store. If you live too far away, you can always drive into town but park a few blocks away from your destination to encourage more movement!
  • Organize the garage and take stock. Before you know it, it’ll be warm enough to haul out the sprinklers and even start putting plants in the ground, so this is a great time to analyze your garden inventory, check bike tires, and find all the summer stuff you put away all those months ago. (If you’re in the market for organizing products, check out the post I wrote last year about our Gladiator garage system.) 
  • Put it on the calendar. If you’re out of the habit of playing or working outside, you might have to remind yourself for a while. Set an alert on your phone or put it on the calendar. Maybe you can create an “outdoors hour” each evening where you and the family will spend time purposefully getting your yard and garage in shape. 

If you’re in an area where spring hasn’t quite sprung yet – or if your “welcome to spring” weather is mostly rain – I really feel for you. It can’t be much longer now, right? For the rest of us, let’s not waste one second taking this sunshine for granted! Plan a better week by reacquainting yourself with the outdoors.

Want more ideas from our Plan a Better Week series? You can get them all right here:

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

MomofTwoPreciousGirls April 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Getting my outside time by default…taking our first ever family vacation…paid for completely in cash…that we actually saved!!!! We are visiting universal in Orlando. Weather is awesome and I got to see Hogwarts castle and pick out a wand from Olivanders! I’m beside myself! But it is a LOT of outside time.

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Christian toto April 14, 2014 at 12:16 am

Here’s an idea … boost your WiFi so it covers your backyard. We’re fortunate to have a small but beautiful backyard space, and our boys love to explore every inch of it. If you need to do work or check your email, let ‘em have fun outside while you catch up on your cyber chores.

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