In praise of forced family outings

Sometimes I have to force encourage my family to go on weekend nature walks with me. There, I said it.

I’m not proud of this fact – I often wish it weren’t the case. I don’t enjoy being the nature hike nazi BUT I feel very strongly that it’s best for everyone’s mental and physical health to be outside moving our bods in nature when the weather’s good.

I’m sharing this with you because I know I can’t be the only one whose family resists A) family time and B) nature hikes. Yet they are both so good for us!

I’ve puzzled before over the phenomenon that sometimes we resist or put off even things we know we like doing.

Case in point: scrapbooking is one of my all-time favorite hobbies, but I will still procrastinate it at times because it feels like a hassle to get all my supplies and tools out. Once I have everything out, though, I’m so delighted and happy to scrapbook and I’m always SO GLAD that I made the time!

Nature walks, or hikes, or whatever you want to call them, are another of those things. Our family ALWAYS loves them once we’re out there in the woods or on the beach. These are the moments memories are made. We have almost never regretted going on a nature walk together – the sun, fresh air, exercise, great company and time out in nature does everyone a world of good.

But pre-hike, when we’re in our cozy house settled on the comfy couch or enjoying screen time or doing our own thing, it can be hard to get ourselves motivated to get up and go out. So sometimes I have to exert a little mom muscle by begging, guilting or otherwise cajoling my beloved family to go on a nature walk with me on beautiful days.

I try not to abuse this mom card, nature hike thing – like, no more than once a weekend, and certainly not every weekend. I’m fine with my husband and daughter being mildly annoyed by me, but I don’t want to become a true nuisance.

How do you manage your family’s time?

Honestly, it’s hard to know what is the right balance between everyone in a family doing our own thing on weekends, vs. spending time together doing something as a family unit. I feel like balancing and managing a family’s time – and tips about how to do that – could be another entire blog post. But first I have to figure out how to do it.

E, Z and I all have our own interests and hobbies. For example, left to her own devices (literally), Z would prefer to spend the day with a phone in her hand making Tiktok or Youtube videos. Some of them are quite creative – and even strenuous, involving dancing and other physical shenanigans – but others simply involve her with a phone in her face making silly expressions or lip syncing to songs. She enjoys doing this on her own or with friends – and sometimes even with her dear old mom. Z also likes to do art, make crafts, create things like slime or play outside with friends.

As for E, if he has his druthers, he will usually do home improvement stuff, yard work or work on his cars during his free time. And once the work is done, and the cars are tuned up and washed, he likes to shower (again) and then go out cruising in one of his babies – sometimes with us, but more often on his own or with friends.

And personally, when I have free time I love to work on scrapbooks or other memory/photo projects, write (either for this blog or to chip away at my novel), take the dogs for a walk or meet up with friends for a walk, hike or some other activity.

All of this is fine and good – it makes sense for family members to spend time each doing their own thing. But this is not the stuff that family memories are made of. I am a firm believer that family together time is important too; it’s just a question of finding the right balance and cadence.

I think in a perfect world, everyone would get a chance to do their own thing for part of the weekend and then we’d do some family togetherness type stuff for another part of the weekend. There would also be a mix of mom and dad time (aka date night) and even one-on-one parent and child time. I wish I could say it always works out this way, but there’s only so much time in a weekend.

If you’ve got this all figured out with your family, will you please give me some tips in the comments? And in the meantime, if the weather is nice, you’d better believe that we’re going to be getting out there in nature for some hikes, walks with the dogs, waterfall chasing and other family time. And if some of that has to be coerced by me, so be it.

Do you ever have to “force” your family to do fun things together – and if so, do they ever thank you afterwards? That’s always the cherry on the sundae of a perfect day, when they remember to thank me afterwards for dragging them out of the house and making them go. #MomLife

About the author

Proud and loving mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Writer since birth. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.

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