Hooray for summer! The sun is shining, the weather is warmer, and children are out of school – summer is often the best time for families to get outdoors together, connect, and make the most of the long, lazy days.

This summer, I encourage you to make it a memorable one when you switch over to ‘family and loved ones’ mode and turn off your email notifications instead. Every family needs an outdoor adventure story or two to share throughout the years!

I know, it can be challenging when we get so tied up with the daily hustle and bustle. You may be finding yourself still with your regular work schedule, having to manage more childcare hours along with your already full plate.  Here are some tips for you to make this juggling act a little easier and get the most out of your time together: 

First thing’s first:

With the sun setting later, the days are longer – use those afternoons and evenings for bonding! Perhaps you are working during the daytime hours, or perhaps your children are at camp.  That shouldn’t prevent you from having plenty of time (daily if you wanted!) to set aside time for family adventure and bonding.

One of the simplest, and most beneficial ways to bond as a family is through nature. 

After the past two years of pandemic life at home, then back into a structured, indoor classroom routine, it is more important than ever to give children opportunities to explore the natural environment. “Greening your brain” is an effective way to relax and manage stress.

So why not do it as a family? 

It’s no secret, quality family time in a relaxing outdoor environment – away from the stress of the day-to-day routines and working together as a team influences positive family relationships and cohesion. This bonding time is something that families can share at every stage of a child’s life, from a simple walk around the neighborhood to gardening to exploring local beaches, parks and trails. 

Activities in natural places can bring families closer by offering time and space away from the distractions of work, home, TV’s and computers – and the fresh air from the outdoors is good for them, too!

How many times have you heard the phrase “sunshine is the best medicine”?

Sunlight is not only known to boost Vitamin D but is thought to increase the brain’s release of serotonin, which can boost one’s mood helping them feel calm and focused. It plays an essential role in bone and teeth health, and boosts the immune system, making bodies more able to fight infections. 

Our bodies produce Vitamin D when our skin is in direct contact with sunlight rays. That’s why Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin”.

Luckily, you don’t need to spend hours outside during the summer to receive the benefits of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the few nutrients that is easier to get your daily dose through something other than food, and in some cases, people can get enough sunlight to produce sufficient vitamin D by spending 10-20 minutes outside with their face and legs exposed. However, you do need to actually go outside – just sitting by a window won’t have the same effect.  And don’t forget the sunscreen!

It’s called the great outdoors for a reason – it makes you feel good!  

Science increasingly tells us that time in nature makes children healthier, happier and smarter. A growing body of evidence points to nature’s ability to bring families together, and at a time when much of childhood has moved indoors, families play a critical role in making sure that kids experience the many benefits of nature.

Taking a break to connect with the natural world – “greening the brain” – is restorative because we give the systems we use to concentrate a chance to rest. 

Studies have found that children who spend more time in nature are more self-disciplined, self-confident, creative and cooperative. When you layer the added bonus of family bonding, you have a natural recipe for success! When parents spend time with their children in nature, family bonds are strengthened. 

So this summer, remember to get outside with your loved ones, because there’s nothing quite as refreshing as basking in the sunshine and open air! I know it may be hard as a working parent, but when you focus on quality over quantity, summer becomes more manageable.  Remember, you only have them for 18 summers…..