Exploring 101: Choose your own adventure!

Remember those books when you were a kid where you could choose your own adventure? I absolutely loved them. They were different every time and that fed my nerdy brain all the adventure I could have ever dreamed of back then. Now that I’ve got my own kids and still manage to go on plenty of adventures, one of the most frequent questions I’ve gotten from blog followers has been along the lines of “but how can I do it??” Sometimes it’s not even a question, it’s just a statement: “I wish I could do that.” There’s always a “but,” even if it’s unspoken It seems like a lot to handle, especially when kids are very young. But I promise, you can do this. You just need to know how! Here’s your blueprint.

Choose your own (small) adventure.

The first thing you’ll need to do is know your limitations and the limitations of your kids. Are they into doing things outdoors? Love science? Animals? Do they do well with just driving? Whatever your interests and theirs point to most, start there. Start small. Choose one thing around town that you know you’ll be up for. Don’t set yourself up for failure with a monumental plan from the very start. Does that mean you’ll always do the same thing? Absolutely not! It’s important to eventually get out of your comfort zone, but you probably don’t want to jump into the deep end before your toes are even wet.

Where’s a good place to start? Find a local park, search for some murals, or do a selfie scavenger hunt! And don’t overlook your own back yard. The tree in that picture above? It’s in our neighborhood and the kids love to go there to play. Is it anything special at first glance? Nope, but it’s been our favorite COVID hangout over the last several months.

Choose your own adventure strategically.

Time things well. Do your kids still take an afternoon nap? Probably not a great idea to leave the house an hour before nap time. Do you have kids who take an hour to eat breakfast? Don’t plan on leaving the house at 7AM. Choose a time to explore that will be most conducive to happy children because if they’re not happy, you won’t have a good time.

For example, we like to leave the house for a lot of our adventures around 9AM. That give us time to get everyone fed (but still let their stomachs settle before loading up) and dressed without having to wake them up at the crack of dawn. We often try to be home before nap/quiet time in the afternoon, but if we’re not we try to allow plenty of driving time for a car nap.

Take backup.

Selfie at Skydance Bridge in OKC

Your kids are less likely to overwhelm you when you’ve got adult backup, so take your spouse or your friend with you while you’re getting the hang of things. When you’ve gotten more comfortable adventuring on your own with the kids, that becomes an awesome time to put yourself out there to make new friends. Say hi to that other mom you keep seeing at the library story time. Start up a conversation with the other parents at the park. It’s hard to make friends as an adult, but it’s even harder if you don’t actively try.

Plan right away but don’t over-plan.

Once you’ve got an idea, start planning how to make it happen but don’t over-plan. This can often be the downfall of adventurers with the best of intentions. Set yourself up for success with a basic and flexible plan. The best adventures happen when you don’t have too many expectations. If you’re not sure where to start with planning (or even just finding adventures), check out my post about my Favorite Adventure Planning Tools!

An example of a basic plan: we’re going to take the kids to look at murals Saturday morning at 10:00. We’ll take a picnic lunch and find somewhere nearby to eat before heading home for naps. Don’t plan how long you’ll stay at each mural, where you’ll eat lunch (maybe it will end up being in the car and that’s OK!), etc. Just get out and figure it out as you go.

So, get out there and choose your own adventure now that you’ve got a blueprint for how to do it successfully! What’s your first plan? I can’t wait to hear about what you’ll do! Tag me in your adventures on Instagram or comment below with what you’re planning! And always feel free to send me an e-mail or message me on Facebook if you need ideas or help! Interacting with y’all is one of my favorite things to do.

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