Explore the Outdoors! 8 Outdoor Activities That Are Good for Your Family’s Mind and Body

Summer is officially almost here, which means kids are done with school and the weather is enticing people to get outside. This is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and discover what’s available in your own backyard.

Many states have relaxed stay-at-home orders and are giving residents more freedom to travel while maintaining social distancing guidelines. This gives your family ample opportunities to explore the outdoors and have some summer fun.

If your kids (or you) are itching to head outside, check out these eight social-distance-friendly summer activities that can stimulate the mind and body.

  1. Go camping in your backyard: Camping in state or national parks isn’t available in all states right now. Even if it is an option for you, the demand is high, and it might be difficult to land a spot. Thankfully, you don’t have to go far to enjoy a camping adventure. Instead, host a family “staycation” and enjoy camping in your own backyard! Help your kids pitch the tent, unplug from your phones and tablets, and roast marshmallows over a backyard fire pit or camping stove.
  2. Hit the hiking trail: Hiking is not a banned activity in most areas—especially not on trails near your home. Pack some snacks, water, and sunscreen, and take your family on a hike to enjoy the scenery and the feeling of getting lost for a little while. This can help soothe stir-craziness and give everyone some exercise.
  3. Go geocaching as a family: Geocaching is like a real-life treasure hunt that your whole family can participate in. Better yet, you can do it without interacting with anyone else. All you need is a GPS system and the coordinates of a cache before you can hit the town in search of treasure. Because geocaching is like a game, it’s perfect for kids. Encourage them to bring a small trinket or toy to leave in the cache for others to find later.
  4. Get a little messy with crafts: Kids love craft time, and there are tons of educational and creative activities you can find online. However, some of them can create a big mess you don’t want in your house. When the weather is nice, set up a tarp or table outside and let your kids get a little messy! Now is the perfect time for slime, sidewalk paint, and bubbles thanks to easier clean up.
  5. Take the pup to a dog park: Our furry friends need to get out, too! If your local dog park is open, bring the family and pups out to play. Being there also gives you the opportunity to chat with other dog owners and get to know more community members while still social distancing.
  6. Do a little birdwatching: Nature has lots to offer, including peace and quiet. Birdwatching can be a relaxing and fun hobby for people young and old. Purchase a simple birdwatching guide and binoculars, and head to your local park to help your kids identify the birds twittering in the trees. You can even make birdwatching into a game to get the little ones involved. Challenge them to identify as many birds as they can in a day, or make a list of common local birds and give them a stamp for each one they see.
  7. Hold a backyard sports tournament: Many recreational and school sports clubs have been cancelled, and your kids might have lost their creative and energetic outlets in the process. This doesn’t mean they can’t play, though! Get the family together to host a sports tournament in the backyard. You can switch between your kids’ favorite games, like basketball, soccer, flag football, or even ping pong. Don’t forget to reward the winners with a small prize for their sportsmanship!
  8. Take weekly field trips: It’s likely that your local community has a ton of hidden gems, so take advantage of them by going on local field trips. Pick one day a week that works for your family, and head to a nearby museum, monument, park, or another interesting place. While there, teach your children something new about the place you’re visiting and why it’s important. You can even get your kids involved with planning by asking what they’re interested in and creating a field trip destination list as a family.

Getting outside and exploring your local community this summer can keep kids occupied, help you get exercise, and stimulate your minds—all while social distancing. By making time for family outdoor activities, you can fight off boredom and help your children enjoy their summer in new ways!

Maintaining Employee Morale While Working Remotely

If you were fortunate enough to maintain your business operations the past few months while allowing staff to work from home, you know that transitioning an entire workforce from the office to remote work presents more than a few challenges. One of the biggest challenges business owners and managers face right now is how to maintain employee morale while everyone is separated.

Employees are scared, uncertain, and likely pulled in a lot of different directions while they try to balance work, children, and life at home. On top of all that, they’re disconnected from their colleagues. Giving your staff a morale boost to help them maintain their drive is absolutely essential to the success of your business and the health and happiness of your team. Use these tips to keep morale high and maintain a strong company culture while working remotely.

Maintain clear, consistent communication

One of the most important things you can do during this time is communicate with your employees as often as possible. Many things are up in the air, and employees fear cut hours, layoffs, reduced benefits, and more.

Be honest and transparent with your staff about how the pandemic is affecting your business and how that might affect them. Make it clear to them you have a plan of action to combat the effects of an economic downtown. You might even want to ask for their suggestions and encourage them to contribute ideas for the business’s continued success.

Ask your team questions, either one on one or within a team discussion. Request their feedback and, more importantly, ask how they’re doing on a personal level.

Overall, try to reduce uncertainty as much as you can. The more open you can be, the more your staff will trust you and understand you’re there to take care of them.

Use creativity to prevent burnout and bolster engagement

Working from home all day, every day is enough to cause burnout for many staff members. Add to this the stress of homeschooling children, worrying about finances, and managing uncertainty, and employees are likely to check out of work quickly. To combat this, you’ll want to flex your creative muscles to come up with unique ways to keep employees engaged.

It’s important to stay connected with meetings and conference calls, but too many meetings can reduce productivity and make people less engaged. Rather than host the same dreaded bi-weekly virtual call, spice things up! Host a weekly virtual happy hour or trivia challenge that gives your workers a break from the monotony. Get everyone involved in remote team-building games or exercises to help them connect interpersonally. If someone is celebrating something, host a virtual get-together to acknowledge it!

When you do need to focus on business matters in team meetings, make sure to keep things light and avoid falling into a bland meeting routine. Let your employees chat at the top of the meeting to socialize a little before kicking things off. Try to minimize the amount of time your staff have to dedicate to meetings each day to avoid burnout.

Additionally, give your team the freedom to work without being micromanaged or under significant pressure. Your business still needs to operate but giving employees a little extra space, and grace can go a long way in helping them adjust to remote work and discover their own methods of staying productive. Encourage your team to take real breaks and give them a space for “water cooler” conversation in a dedicated Slack channel. Giving them room to breathe will show that you trust them to get the job done.

Recognize individual efforts and successes

When you’re in the office, you’re able to quickly pop by an employee’s desk to congratulate them on a job well done. But when everyone is working remotely, it’s easy to let acknowledgments fall through the cracks.

A simple compliment can make a huge difference in employee morale. Pay close attention to individual contributions by members of your team, then make sure they know that you notice their hard work. A simple Slack message or email thanking them for completing a challenging project or stepping up as a team leader lets them know they’re doing valuable work. You might even want to call out stellar performance on a team conference call or email chain to encourage other staff members to follow suit.

Beyond personal praise, you could acknowledge your employees’ efforts through incentives, prizes, or giveaways—even something small like a virtual gift card for coffee would do. When something special is on the line, your staff will be motivated to work extra hard and can have a bit of fun and build comradery through playful competition.

High morale will keep your team strong

The importance of positive employee morale cannot be understated, especially when your team is separated and working remotely. In order to keep your business on track and push through the uncertainty of the situation right now, you must prioritize your employees’ wellbeing. In doing so, you’re sure to see great results and come out the other side with a team that’s stronger than ever before.

7 Activities to Do with Your Kids While at Home

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The global health crisis has disrupted almost every aspect of our lives, but it has also affected our children. With schools closed, sports and clubs paused, and social events canceled, our kids are also struggling to cope with the changes.

But COVID-19 has also given us a unique opportunity to spend extra time with our families at home. We normally don’t have this much time in our regularly busy lives to dedicate to trying new activities with our kids. With some creativity, we can turn this time of disappointment and uncertainty into one full of love, joy, and learning!

If your family is feeling the stress and boredom of being stuck at home, try these seven activities to bond and have some fun.

  1. Build a fort: Gather up all your spare sheets and blankets, pull out the camping gear, assemble your dining room chairs, and get creative with kids young and old! Make a blanket fort in your living room that’s big enough to fit the entire family (and don’t forget your pets!). Pop some popcorn and fill bowls with snacks to have an extra-fun family movie night.
  2. Learn something new together: With schools closed, most children are getting a combination of homeschooling and virtual learning. But by being at home, kids have the opportunity to learn other kinds of things aside from English, math, and science. Talk to your child about their interests and see if there’s something you can teach them—or, better yet, something you can learn together! Download Duolingo to challenge each other while learning a new language, follow an online cooking class, or pick up a new crafting hobby together to expand both of your horizons.
  3. Have a dance party: With limited access to parks and playgrounds, energetic kids might feel a little stir crazy. When they start bouncing off the walls, you might struggle to stay calm. To help everybody shed some stress and let out all that pent-up energy, ask for your kids’ help in putting together a playlist of their favorite music. Then, clear out your living room and hold a dance party to release those jitters!
  4. Take virtual tours: Many families aren’t able to travel the world, regardless of a pandemic. However, many famous museumsnational parks, and landmarks are available to “tour” on your computer screen! Connect your computer to the TV or gather around the monitor, and use Google Earth or specially designed virtual touring websites to experience everything from the Louvre to the Great Wall of China. This also makes for a great educational opportunity, since your kids can learn about history, art, nature, and culture!
  5. Host family game night: Board games and card games are the perfect solutions to otherwise quiet nights indoors. Have your children pick out their favorite games, then play a round of each with the entire family. This is a great way to have some fun while stimulating your brains. If you want to bring even more family and friends into the fun, there are tons of virtual board games perfect for playing while still social distancing! Fire up a virtual call and play together from your respective homes.
  6. Give their rooms a facelift: If you’ve been on a cleaning kick at home, get your kids involved by having them reorganize their bedrooms and playrooms. Make it fun by offering to redecorate their space with a new coat of paint or some simple décor once they’ve cleaned it out. Assemble a donation pile of old clothes and toys, then see how you can spruce up their space. Adding just a few new storage bins, a cute rug, and a lamp can transform their room and make them feel like they’ve accomplished something great!
  7. Start a backyard garden: With spring weather finally here, now is the perfect time to head to your backyard. Order some new pots, soil, and seeds from your local hardware store, and have your kids help you build a backyard garden. Let them choose a few things they want to grow—whether it’s flowers, herbs, or vegetables. Gardening will get you all outside for some sun and fresh air, and it will help your children learn a new skill.

The pressure to teach your children and keep them busy at all hours of the day can be immense. However, think of this time as an opportunity to help them learn new things, expand their horizons, and get a little extra one-on-one time with you. You can still get things done around the house and be productive with your children in tow!

Bonus idea! Inevitably, you and your kids will want some alone time to rest and recharge. Download our free coloring book for your kids to enjoy during their downtime! Not only does it give them a creative outlet, but it encourages kids to stay safe and healthy.

While everyone should have some quiet time alone for their hobbies, engaging your kids with activities the whole family can do together is sure to create some fond memories for all of you and relieve the stress of quarantine.