Make it a summer goal to get outdoors with the family – and track all the time you spend in nature. It’s good for your bodily fitness, mental acuity, communication skills, happiness quotient, Vitamin D levels, spiritual wellness and general sense of wonder. Set out to create a book that tracks one big family adventure like a camping trip – or just keep a photographic album of all the hikes, bike rides, nature hunts and puddle-jumping escapades you take.
There’s not a parent I know who doesn’t struggle with the temptation of technology in their children’s lives – and the pastimes it tends to replace, namely unstructured time spent in the great outdoors. There are certainly plenty of parents out there who go to extremes in terms of limiting exposure to screens of all kinds, and I applaud them. I even dream of whisking my family off to a tiny village where we can live off the land and off the grid. But then, alas, I find too much joy in being connected – and I’ve also discovered that if I discipline myself, it is possible to find that – and I shudder to use the word that you know is coming: balance.
It’s such a cliché in some ways, and maybe the word “balance” should just be excised from our vocabulary because it’s been so overused. But the operative word in the sentence that precedes the dreaded word is: discipline. The word balance seems to somehow imply that you find some perfect fulcrum from which perfect homeostasis is achieved. I’m sure I’m mixing physics and physiology metaphors there, but you get the point: it’s never effortless. When you’re living a pretty conventional life (like most of us do), it takes daily effort to deliberately work the things you value into your life. And making time for nature is no different. In fact, in some ways my flawed metaphor may even be fitting, after all we sort of need to pull ourselves away from the Law of Inertia to engage our bodies in the natural world. Okay – see? Proof in point. I clearly need to step away from my screen and get outside….
There are a ton of books out there that talk about the importance of getting into nature with your kids. Pick up one or two as bedside reading, and bolster your intention throughout the summer. Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods talks about the astounding benefits of an environment-based education. I Love Dirt! presents 52 open-ended activities to help you engage your child in the outdoors. There’s also Joseph Cornell’s classic book Sharing Nature with Children, which is a great tool for creating awareness and enthusiasm for the beauty of nature.
And Rebecca Cohen’s book Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids is a really great bite-size tool to work a little intentional outdoor time in every day.
Choose one of Mixbook’s great photo book templates to track your time in the great outdoors this summer. If you’re heading out on a camping trip, the Campground Adventures or Camping Adventures templates are ideal. Take plenty of fun, hammed-up posed photos, but try to make sure you also get the quiet shots that capture your children communing with nature. Even if that means tantrums in the dirt at first, it’s probably a good thing since studies show exposure to dirt is great for our immune systems. Most kids, mine included, gravitate to dirt like heat-seeking missiles, but even if your children are reluctant nature-lovers, something is bound to pique their interest eventually. Have your telephoto lens ready and have a field day! Upload your snaps into a photo book as a way to remember your camping experiment, adding stickers and fun captions and quotes anywhere you see fit.
A wide selection of photo layouts are set against organic backdrops like the rich grain of dark wood, weathered beach wood, travertine marble, flax linen and cobblestone, infusing each page with a subtle depth and fullness that's ideal for framing outdoor photographs whether they feature human subjects or natural landscapes. Mountain biking, river rafting, trail running, nature-fort building, scavenger hunting, backpacking and puddle jumping – they’re all beautifully showcased in a family photo book tracking time spent outside over the course of one great summer.
Best of all, your outdoors-themed photo book is a BOOK, so remembering your trip won’t require firing up your tablet or computer to look at pictures. Kids can even take it outside and flip through pics in a patch of grass under a tree.
Happy Mixbooking! Have fun outside!