If Getting Outdoors More is Your New Year's Intention

Thank you everyone for sharing your intentions on the One Bite at a Time giveaway post. By the way, comments close tonight and I'll randomly choose three winners who each get an copy of Tsh's e-book. Get your comment in now to be entered. 

I've read every single one of those comments and noticed that some of you want 2012 to be the year you pursue more outdoor adventures with your family, together.

That's awesome!

I understand that desire and have a recommendation that might help. Family Outdoors is a resource page we created at our adventure blog to help your family get outdoors. I recently updated the page with lots of new links and pretty photos. If you've never visited the page or haven't for a while, you should check it out.

We have since retired that blog but The Kid's Outdoor Gear Guide is a good place to start.

Didn't know we have an adventure blog? I don't blame you.

It's been kind of quiet for a couple months. We've been too busy living the adventure of moving our family to the Gaspé peninsula to spend much time writing about our weekend hikes. Also Damien is spending more time writing for our minimalist footwear blog Toe Salad.

I recently wrote about our dream come true of getting outfitted for skiing. Speaking of which, outfitting our family for skiing wasn't a "honey, let's go buy some skis today" kind of decision. Some families save to go to Disneyland. We save to buy skis. 

Loving where we live and daily living out our values while pursuing our professional goals and family dreams. It hasn't always been this way. 

Can you believe it all started with an intention to be outdoors every weekend as a family?

Well, perhaps that wasn't the only catalyst for our huge life change, but it was a big part of it.

You see, from our weekly outings we got a taste of the "good stuff". A taste for the outdoors, a taste for adventure, a taste of freedom.

We started to dream and talk about how we might spend more time outdoors together. How we could maybe thru hike for months at a time or at the very least live in a more natural setting. 

Being outdoors every weekend together started us in that direction. It was one of the first steps on the path to where we are now. Living in a dream location, with our priorities and values charting the course of our days instead going with the flow (when the flow was heading in a direction we didn't like).

I don't want to scare you into thinking if you start hiking on a more regular basis, or doing some other activity outdoors together you'll have to re-order your life priorities and end up with a large scale life change.

But wouldn't it be kind of cool if that did happen?

Imagine if being active, in nature, got you more in tune with each other and more in tune with your spiritual practice. Giving you a chance to exercise with your family, instead of trying to juggle everyone's schedule for one hour at the gym.

Time to unplug, time to dream, time to push your limits and boundaries. Helping you form a more solid relationship with your family and deepening your understanding of this planet we call home.

And what if all that connecting, challenging, uplifting, sweaty, tiring and beautiful time took you places you can't even imagine right now?

I can't guarantee any "life changing results" from a one day a week practice outdoors. But I am certain your body will thank you, your relationships will grow and you will view nature and your place in it differently.

In short, you will not be the same.

And all together, that might just change your life. I know it has mine. 

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  • Jennifer @ kidoing!

    Jennifer @ kidoing! on Jan. 4, 2012, 1:51 p.m.

    Renee, I just took a quick look at Family Outdoors (with my son pulling on me to play dominoes). Do you have advice on layering and fabrics for cold weather? I have been thinking about silk long underwear as a primary layer for years, but I'm not really a fan of how it breathes, so I haven't made that investment. Are there other better options? I'd love to hear how you stay warm.


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 4, 2012, 2:05 p.m.

      We don't like silk. Our favorite underwear layer is wool. It's an investment but the best base layer. Second best, polypropylene, sometimes called thermal underwear. This is what most run-of-the-mill long underwear is made out of and you can buy it lots of places, much cheaper than wool.  We have a mix of both - wool and synthetic. But wool is our favorite and we are moving that way with each new purchase. Wool has amazing properties and doesn't stink - this is huge. Our poly long underwear (tops especially) get stinky fast. But for little kids these are fine since their bodies don't produce the same BO.  Avoid cotton like the plague.  Staying warm is all about proper layering and I can't get into that right now. Base long underwear, insulation and wind/water protection. I should get my kids to write an essay on it. They know the drill in their sleep! Our family has a saying, "there's no such thing as bad weather, only poor choice of clothing". I think we picked this up in Lighten Up! This book has layering well explained, with funny illustrations. Other books and resources no doubt talk in depth about this also. Layering systems are a fundamental principle of any outdoor activity.


  • Jennifer @ kidoing!

    Jennifer @ kidoing! on Jan. 4, 2012, 2:44 p.m.

    Love that saying! Thanks for the info. I will look into wool (not a huge fan of synthetics). Does that go for socks, too? I'll see if my library has that book.


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 4, 2012, 3:02 p.m.

      yes, especially the socks. That's all we own. See these posts for more winter warmth ideas.

      Footwear for Fall/Winter/Spring

      Keeping Feet Warm in Winter


  • Corey

    Corey on Jan. 4, 2012, 3:03 p.m.

    Hello Renee!

    What a beautiful family and beautiful journey you are on. I look forward to taking some time to explore more of your blog (If I can manage to pour a cup of tea and sit for a few minutes during nap time!). We, too, are intentionally simplifying our lives and are excited to be moving forward. Moving to a better location is happening this summer and my desire to homeschool is becoming overwhelming. I'm so glad my friend passed along your blog!

    All the best in the new year!


  • Jen @ Anothergranolamom

    Jen @ Anothergranolamom on Jan. 4, 2012, 4:19 p.m.

    I absolutely believe that being outdoors becomes a catalyst for major change in family life. We began hiking as a family about 5 years ago, and our priorities have slowly changed as we become healthier and happier because of our time outdoors together. Another major catalyst for change in my life has been daily running. I started running as a way to build endurance for backpacking, and found that running gives me the same high as an all day hike in about one hour -- so I can do it every day, not just once or twice a month. Soon my kids were involved, too, and now we're a running family.


  • Kate

    Kate on Jan. 4, 2012, 10:14 p.m.

    I remember when your dreams were just...dreams! So glad to see you living them each and every day now Renee! Inspiring and exciting....enjoy that snow and those skis...we're about to embark on a few week adventure out west, even though we sadly know they have as little snow as we do...just dreaming of that one big storm now;)


  • Nicole

    Nicole on Jan. 4, 2012, 10:37 p.m.

    The Family Outdoors resource page is WONDERFUL! I have read a lot of Fimby and of AIP, and I love the organization on the Family Outdoors page, as I found articles I hadn't yet read. Can't wait to read them! You guys are such an inspiration to my family on so many levels. My son will ask now, "what's new on Fimby?" and he loves to see the pics of your kiddos outdoors, and hanging out indoors, too.


  • Lanise

    Lanise on Jan. 5, 2012, 3:55 a.m.

    I love the idea of getting out more. I've wanted to implement something like this in our family for awhile now, but have not. I have a few questions about how to help this to become a habit. While I can certainly see that you may have your own weather challenges, ours are the opposite. We live in Phoenix and of course this time of year we can go outside on almost any given day and enjoy the lovely weather, but come June that will be a different story. We can always get up with the sun and enjoy a couple of hours of decent weather (meaning it's still under a 100 degrees), but after that the rest of the day is shot. It's like that here from about mid-May to mid-September, if we're lucky, sometimes it lasts longer. We can also travel at about 70 miles north and the temperature starts to drop. So, I guess my questions are, do you plan on spending your whole day outdoors when you have your weekly outing? Does it just vary? Do you sometimes travel to different places, like make it a day trip? Also, when you started out, was it weekly, or did you ease your way into it? I could see us starting out monthly, or maybe every two weeks, but I'm not sure if we could start weekly. Another potential frustration that I could see arising is spending our Saturday outside with our family, but not being able to get other things done around the house that need attention. My husband is self-employed, but works mainly Monday-Friday. We attend church on Sunday and strive not to work on the Sabbath. So, that leaves Saturday for everything else. Sorry to ask so many questions. It sounds like I'm over-analyzing all of this, but I really want to be successful at implementing this into a routine.


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 5, 2012, 12:04 p.m.


      We answer a lot of those questions in One Day a Week and A Homemaker's Perspective to One Day a Week.

      The short of it is, our one day a week IS our sabbath. We spend time outdoors and we used to eat out for supper and then just chill at night. Where we live now there is no eating out so we make an easy supper and then chill.

      We are Christians and meet with believers at other times. We don't attend church, we believe we are the church - but that is whole different topic! For a few years we had gatherings of Christians in our home but then we moved and now we are looking to start something new where we live. In which case, we meet at other times, not on our hiking day.

      We started hiking one day a week with our children when Brienne was three (she's now nine). Back then it was still one day a week, but not a whole day dedicated that activity. We started small and locally a morning or afternoon hike close to home. At that time we weren't thinking long term making into a whole day.

      Once we were ready for more challenging hikes we realized we would have to start driving places. And so, to answer your other question is yes, we do drive. That's part of it being a whole day. Takes time to get places and back home. In this was we literally have a family adventure nearly every weekend.

      We go different places all the time. We like variety and there's no way we'd be hiking the same trails over and over again. We will repeat hikes in different seasons or go back to bag a peak (reach the summit) if we couldn't before.

      After a few years of doing this our distances have increased and we can do a great day's hiking. It's awesome. 

      For years we established a one night a week to work on the house stuff (we currently rent and this is not an issue). This is when Damien would do fix-it projects also, to enable us the weekend time. Of course both of us gave to make this happen since I did more evening work in the kitchen and with the kids that night. 

      I'm not sure what more to say except that this is simply a priority for us. And you make time and resources available for your top family priorities - which are different for everyone. 

      We've gone through times where making this happen each week is difficult. But we've come to depend on it so much - for exercise, our relationship building and our need to natural beauty - that if we don't do it, we suffer. We're cranky and feel less connected. 

      For us, it's just really important. I should mention, in the early days it was my husband who steered the ship and led us in this activity. I was a bit skeptical. Now I'm sold out. I chronicle that journey also at Family Outdoors. For a couple years Damiend did a lot of hard work (prep work and planning) to make it easier for me to think about "giving up" a whole day. My perspective is totally different now. 

      I'll be honest, doing this is countercultural for most people. Unless you live in Boulder, CO or some other really outdoorsy place - your friends won't be doing this (you could invite them!) You will have to make hard choices in how your family spends its time and what activities you commit to, etc... A practice like this might not work for everyone, but it's a key piece now of our family dynamic and we love it. 


  • Lanise

    Lanise on Jan. 5, 2012, 9:36 p.m.

    I really appreciate the information and your heartfelt reply. We just need to make it a priority, like you said. There will always be an excuse if we are looking for one. I don't mind being counter-cultural. We've already made so many changes in our life, people already think we're a bit nuts, but they still like us (at least I think they do, LOL). I can just see huge benefits to this.

    Thanks so much for your lovely blog. Helps me to fine tune the things I want for myself and my family.


  • Beth Wagenius

    Beth Wagenius on Jan. 6, 2012, 6:56 p.m.

    Lots of good information on the Family Outdoors page. Great post. It's a bit different for us. We are down to just my husband and I. (empty nesters, although I really don't prefer that phrase.) But it is what we want to do. We know what it does for us when we do get out. Stress just melts away. We feel kinder and more loving towards one another. Not sure why, but it really does seem to work that way. Our budget is stretched to the max right now but we are going to find ways to get out more. Yard sales have been helpful. We found a couple day packs and some rain shells for next to nothing....we'll get there.


  • Nicole

    Nicole on Jan. 17, 2012, 2:54 a.m.

    We have been getting outdoors every other week now, thanks to your and Damien's many words of wisdom here and at the Adventure Blog! Today we went to the coast, last time to Yosemite (usually has ten or more feet of snow in the meadows, but it was just grass/dirt - NO snow/rain here in CA! )

    The best advice I picked up yet was to have the kids carry their own packs. Why had we thought we were to be the mules before? LOL! Anyway, our 8 year old son took his own pack last year for backpacking, but now for day hikes it is the new standard. For him and 5year old daughter. Also, we had them each pack their own snack, water bottle, and clothes, with us double checking, of course. And we ate breakfast in the car on the way, cottage cheese, fruit, our homemade granola, honey and cinnamon!

    Thanks for being such an inspiration to us. I LOVE your heart-felt words, and your family has such knowledge to pass on! God bless your special time in the chalet, and keep finding time to post about your life!



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