Two years ago, a study commissioned by a California tourist hotspot showed that Americans devoted only 37 minutes to family time daily. Yet most people interact with their smartphones for at least three hours every day. If you feel you’re not initiating enough quality moments with your kids, aim to use autumn as the perfect excuse to build your relationship with them. (And put the phone down for a little while.)
Truly, the early-to-mid fall months of September through November provide unique opportunities to get your whole household involved in exciting activities. You’ll never regret the time you devote to turning away from your screens, focusing on your loved ones, and making happy memories.
Below are seven terrific activities that will appeal to everyone in your family.
1. Take regular after-work or weekend bike excursions.
Biking has risen as an extremely popular activity, particularly since COVID-19 made everyone rethink their exercise regimens. Fall provides beautiful scenery and lower temperature weather to really enjoy longer family bike rides. Not only is riding a bike enjoyable, but it’s something that virtually anyone can do. Even if you haven’t ridden in years, you can get back into the groove pretty quickly.
Not sure you can keep up with your youngsters or teens on longer bike rides on a rural rails-to-trails path or throughout your city’s safe biking route? Consider investing in an electric cruiser bike. E-bikes have gotten a boost because they allow you to pedal when you want and kickback when you hit those long stretches or killer hills.
2. Head to a local corn maze or pumpkin patch.
Many farms open their doors to the public during the autumn season. Some offer corn mazes and special games to appeal to the younger set as well as teenagers and parents. Look online for pumpkin patches and farmer open houses near your home.
To make sure you have the best possible experience, bring along everything you’ll need to stay comfortable. For instance, a lengthy hayride at dusk can get chilly very quickly depending upon the weather. Dress comfortably and bring extra layers, or even a blanket. Be sure to have bags on hand for easy carrying of any pumpkins, apples, or other produce you buy onsite.
3. Take a fall foliage excursion.
Generations ago, families used to take “rides in the country” on Saturdays and Sundays. You can revive this type of experience by piling in the car and heading out to find fall foliage. Consider traveling an hour or two to get to a state or national park or forest.
Remember to bring along bug spray, snacks, sunscreen, blankets, sweatshirts, and anything else to make your trip comfortable. Binoculars are a must-have if you plan on doing a little bird-watching when you get to your destination. Oh, and be sure to take lots of pictures. That’s the only time you should use your phone when you’re trying to reconnect as a family!
4. Get holiday decorations ready.
It goes without saying that fall will meld into the end-of-year holiday season before you know it. Instead of being blindsided by the holidays, get a jump on them by taking all of your holiday decor out of storage.
Enlist everyone in the family to dust off old decorations and wreaths, test holiday lights, examine inflatables for any holes or signs of damage, and put up hangers to secure lights and other objects. You might even want to start stringing up some of your holiday lights on a nice day, even if you don’t plan on actually lighting up your area of the neighborhood for a few weeks.
5. Attend a fall-themed or harvest festival.
Many cities, nonprofits and organizations hold outside festivals during the fall. Although some may have shut down due to the pandemic, others may still be in operation with social distancing measures in place.
If you go to a festival, participate fully but within safe parameters. Wear your face mask and bring along hand sanitizer to comply with CDC recommendations. And above all else, use the experience as an opportunity to support participating neighbors, entertainers, restaurants, companies, and agri-businesses. You’ll be showing your children the importance of immersing yourself in your community. Bonus points if your family is able to volunteer time together to make the festival a success!
6. Whip up seasonal recipes.
Fall can turn brisk and rainy on a dime. Yet bad weather doesn’t have to stall your family time. Just bring the adventures indoors and whip up some magic in the kitchen.
Kids and adults can both benefit from learning how to master cooking and baking tools and techniques. At least once a week, make a meal that’s themed for the season. For instance, you might start with a kale and apple salad with pumpkin-walnut dressing, followed by a squash-based soup. Drink apple cider as a treat with dinner, and then cap everything off with homemade sweet potato pie. You’ll be able to celebrate the flavors of fall and learn new recipes and processes to boot.
7. Participate in a fall scavenger hunt.
Do you have younger children in your family? Littler kids have tons of energy and lots of imagination. Capture both by sending them on an autumn scavenger hunt.
You’ll probably want your scavenger hunt to take place outside. Head to a local park and give each of your children a special bag. (This could even be a brown paper bag they decorated just for the moment!) Read off a list of 10 items that each child should find, like a bright yellow leaf, a smooth white rock, or a bird’s feather. Then, help them explore and fill their bags. Be sure to talk about interesting tidbits about each item, such as how a pinecone can be a meteorologist.
Spending time with your family this fall doesn’t have to be hard or take too much effort. It just requires that everyone untether from their tech devices and spend time talking, laughing, and having a blast.
This content is brought to you by Hannah Madison.