We are built for connection. Real connection. Lasting connection. We all long for this kind of connection, especially with our kids. But we live in a time when so many things are vying for our kids’ attention and for ours: busy schedules, technology, emails to answer, playdates, classes, and more. All these things can create distance between our hearts and theirs.
When my kids were little, just 5, 3 and 1, I decided I wanted to bridge that distance. I wanted to write a story for our family that wasn’t the typical one of families that just drifted farther and farther apart as the kids got older. But I knew that real, lasting connection wasn’t just going to happen. I couldn’t just wish for it. I had to be intentional. I had to put in the work. I had to invite my kids into relationship with me, over and over again.
So I began adventuring with my kids almost every week. For me, adventures were the perfect place to cultivate connection. I was away from the responsibilities of home, my schedule, routine and to-do list. I could be fully present and engaged with my kids. I could just focus on enjoying them.
We’ve kept it up for 12 years now. And guess what? I have 3 teenagers and a pre-teen, and we all still love adventuring together!
There are many reasons adventure is a powerful connecting agent. One of my favorites is that I get to have fun with my kids when we chase adventure. Of course, I can’t be a fun parent all the time. But you know what? I need to be a fun parent some of the time.
My kids need to me laugh with them, be playful with them, and enjoy them. Adventuring together might look like climbing trees with my kids, holding their hand as we walk along the trail, learning a new skill together, cuddling on the couch while reading a good book, or talking over Saturday morning donuts. In each of these experiences I am creating connections with my kids, saying with my actions, “I want to be with you!”
As you look forward to summer and enjoying your kids instead of just keeping them busy, here are three tips for pursuing connection with your kids through adventure.
First, start small.
You don’t have to start by taking your kids backpacking in the wilderness for the weekend. Your kids don’t have any expectations for what “real” adventure is. They’re going to be excited because you are doing something together, that you packed awesome snacks and maybe they’ll get to see a squirrel.
*Start by taking a nature walk in a new nature center.
*Making homemade playdough.
*Build a fort in the back yard and read aloud in it.
Small counts! Remember, building connection takes time and presence, not splash and flash.
Second, be prepared.
I promise you, being prepared makes adventuring so much easier. For me, getting out the door is often the hardest part. I get bogged down by the work I know it takes to get everyone and everything ready. Preparing ahead of time, even putting things in the car ahead of time, makes it much more likely to go out and adventure with my kids.
*Pack as much as possible the night before an adventure so you’re not rushing around like a maniac in the morning.
*Pack good snacks. If you have good snacks packed, even the worst adventure is going to be redeemed.
*Keep extra water bottles in the fridge or cupboard so you can grab them on your way out the door.
*Have a beach, lake, or park bag in your car all the time so you can be prepared to be spontaneous.
Being prepared is one of the best tools for making adventures happen.
Third, keep growing!
This means you step outside your comfort zone. It means trying new things and going new places. I try to do things that will challenge my kids and me too. Because those are the places we grow. We grow individually, and we also grow closer together as a family. The stretching we experience during growth strengthens our connection.
*Visit an art museum
*Go tent camping
*Take a one mile, or longer hike.
*Learn to do something new together.
*Set a goal to try two adventures this summer that will challenge you and help you grow!
Remember, even when your adventures don’t go according to plan, (and they won’t) your misadventures will make a great story later! Adventures will bring your family closer together. So get out there and pursue connection. Adventure awaits!
Mom to 4 and wife of 23 years, Greta Eskridge is passionate about creating connection, preserving childhood, and chasing adventure. She loves nature, books, and coffee. Greta is the author of the book, “Adventuring Together—How to Create Connections and Making Lasting Memories with Your Kids”. Her second book releases next spring.
For more ideas from Greta about adventuring, check out her segment from our Comeback Tour finale.