by Meghan Fitzgerald
It’s the second morning of 2021, and a dear friend just messaged me, “I missed the first day hike—we’re already behind.” As resolution ads and “start the new year” articles fly, it’s easy to succumb to the pressure.To be honest, even though we did go on a lovely walk yesterday, I was up for very little else—I really need a quiet start to 2021, and I have a hunch I am not alone.
I can fill my notebook with ideas for resolutions, but I’m using a simple litmus test to pick the one I’ll actually see through—which one can the whole family get behind? For us, it’s simple: getting outside even more than we did in 2021. It’s a new year's resolution that everyone can understand and one that will make the biggest difference. At Tinkergarten, we’ve long known that playing and learning outdoors helps kids thrive. But we understand it in this moment like we’ve never understood it before.
Keep it Simple
2021 needs a different, wiser and simplified approach. In 2020 we had to dig deep and figure out how to parent for what is real more than what is ideal—and, in doing so, we learned a lot about how resilient our kids are and what really matters. We’ve done a lot of that work, and this year we ought to benefit from hard lessons learned. Let’s start from wherever we are and focus on what matters most.
Take Our Time
According to a University of Scranton study, 80% of new year’s resolutions fail, and they do so by the second week of February. So, why the rush? 365 days is a long time, and if we want to make real change, let’s switch out of sprint mode and settle into a nice, steady marathon pace.
Plus, if you feel anything like me, you are still recovering from the holidays—and, if that’s true for us, it’s doubly true for our kids. I also needed time just to let go of 2020. Even though we know the focus for our family’s resolution—get outside even more in 2021—we’ll take the coming days to figure out just how we’ll do it and how we’ll track our progress. This will let me really engage the kids in planning and co-”owning” this resolution, too.
Set a Goal
It can help to set a goal for getting outside this year, and goals make resolutions really concrete for kids, too. You just need to pick one that really fits you and your family.
Feeling ambitious? Join in the 1,000 Hours Outside project and track your way towards that amazing accomplishment. Or, you could focus on making sure you get outside, even for a short time, each and every day. Want a truly accessible goal? Aim for 2 hours per week outdoors—the minimum we need to get the mental and physical benefits of time in nature, according to science. You can even use a sweet coloring sheet like this one to get started and get kids excited to track their progress.
Whatever you decide, keep your goal flexible. If you miss a day, a week or a moment, just keep going. Each day is a new opportunity.
The first days of the new year always fall in winter, so for many of us, that adds extra challenge. Check out our Affordable Winter 2021 Gear Guide to learn more about how to layer up in your neck of the woods and get good quality pieces for less. Have the gear, but struggle to get kids dressed? Read our favorite tips for getting wiggly wee ones suited up, or watch five star Tinkergarten Leaders show you how they do it. And don’t forget to get what you need, too!
Ideas Are Everything
Getting outside might be a simple first step, but knowing what to do next—and how to make it count—doesn’t always come naturally, especially in the winter. And, sometimes our kids wake up reluctant to head outside, so having a compelling invitation to coax them out the door and into the wild is just what you need.
Ideas are what we’re all about, and we’ll keep them coming for you all year! If you want to make outdoor play a regular part of your child’s routine, join a Tinkergarten class! We’ve developed four series, each with its own super fun theme and important focus skill, and you can join from anywhere!
Each week, our amazing Leaders get kids to virtually connect, sing, move, learn about creatures and get inspired by the play lesson of the week. An at-home curriculum guide gives grown ups the ideas, read alouds and activities to keep kids playing and learning outside all week long. This year, our grants program has helped hundreds of families with financial support to enroll. Limited grants remain for our Upcoming season. If you or someone you know could benefit, visit tinkergarten.com/grant.
If you haven’t yet, join our mailing list to get our Sunday newsletter. Each free edition comes filled with timely parenting insights and a set of our weekly Play Breaks—easy ways to build a little extra outdoor play into your family’s day-to-day routine. Check out this week’s Play Break, focused on ways to kick off the new year.
We all need a community that can support us towards our goals. Just one year ago, we launched our OutdoorsAll4 Facebook group—a place where our central team, Tinkergarten Leaders, and outdoor-loving families around the world could connect to share their passion for the outdoors. Little did we know what a lifeline this would be! This generous, honest and creative community has been a source of support and inspiration to me and so many this past year. If you’re not a member yet, join today. If you are, share the group with friends and family—we want to support and learn from the next 13,000 families!
“We found this group this summer. It helped us rediscover our backyard and grounded us during the pandemic. Now the group is helping us to stay outside into the winter.” —OutdoorsAll4 Group Member
“Love this Tinkergarten has been helpful with getting us outside! My son absolutely loves his Tinkergarten time and even though it looks different right now he still loves the zoom calls. A community united in nurturing little minds ” —Tinkergarten Member
However you do it and whomever you do it with, happy new year and know we’re here—today, a week from now and all 365 days to come. We can’t wait to get outside and learn together!
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