Saying Yes To Family Time Outside

Aimee and her husband, Justin, along with their 3 amazing kids have just completed a year long experiment of sorts to spend 365 days and 1,000 hours outdoors in 2022.  After hearing about their journey we knew that Aimee would have great things to share with you, so we asked her to write a couple of articles about what she's learned in this process.  We hope you enjoy it and learn from it as much as we did!

- Geoff

After a long week that included a family road trip and sickness, I was looking forward to an evening walk alone. For me, solitary walks are a sacred experience, free from interruptions, snack requests, or to-do lists; a time to pray, to worship, to think. Yet this particular night, my daughter asked if she could go with me. 


So I said yes. 


Along the way, we talked and we prayed and we met a new neighbor. We marveled at the sunset and the way the clouds seemed to be painted in brush strokes across the evening sky. I returned home, thankful for our walk together.  I was reminded why the simple act of spending time together outside has transformed our family culture and why we continue to make it a priority. Here are just a few reasons: 


  • Improved Health - You don’t have to look far to uncover endless research about the benefits of time in nature for both children and adults. It is proven to positively impact our mental, emotional, and physical health. And the best part is that you don’t need any special equipment or training. 


  • Distractions are limited -  In our world today, there is a continuous lineup of activities that compete for our families time and attention. Going outside together is an intentional way to slow down and to remove ourselves from the frantic schedules, screens, and other distractions that prevent us from being present with one another. 


  • Connection - With distractions and stressors removed, open dialogue has a space to naturally occur. In our family, we discuss the ordinary and the extraordinary. Faith, friendships, and Minecraft. Our favorite sports, cancer, and loose teeth. Over time, these little conversations and the new memories we make outside strengthen our family relationships. 


  • It sparks awe and worship - The more time we spend in nature the more in awe we become of the One who created it all. Sometimes it hits when we watch the birds at the feeder or when we observe the new life of spring. Other times, it’s a beautiful landscape, a fresh snowfall, or a tiny chrysalis that reveals the beauty and the brilliance of creation and of the Creator. David proclaims a similar sentiment and call to worship in Psalm 65:5 when he states: “The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.”


Nevertheless, spending time in creation together isn’t without challenges. More often than not, there is a problem to solve, a band-aid required, or a flat tire that needs air. Saying yes to this time means saying no to other good things, at least for a season. It means we can no longer equate busyness with success when it comes to our family. It means slowing down, being present, and investing the most valuable currency we have as parents: Time. 


Aimee Dykstra
Guest Writer