Have you reached for a duster to start the annual spring clean yet? This seasonal ritual may feel like work, but it can be empowering and positive. And while you are putting in the energy, it’s the perfect time to freshen up your sense of adventure too! We asked Kirstie Pelling from The Family Adventure Project for her top tips on how to do just that…
Breaking out from the old routine
It’s natural to get stuck in the routines of school and work. But if these routines leave no room for spontaneity, fun, and simple adventures then you’re missing something special. You’ll know from spring cleaning your home how transformative it can be and, if you apply the same elbow grease to your family’s sense of adventure, you’ll see the light and smell the pine almost immediately.
Before you begin, assess the scale of the clean-up job. Be honest; how often have you got out together lately? Have your heart rates risen? Have you challenged yourselves or one another? Or have you and your family become disconnected from nature because your daily lives simply don’t have time for it? In his book, Last Child in the Woods, child advocacy expert Richard Louv calls this disconnection ‘nature deficit disorder’ and he reminds us that “direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development.”
Stretching yourself in everyday life
It’s not necessary to quit your job and head off on a gap year to reconnect with nature. In his book, Microadventures, explorer Alistair Humphreys argues adventure is for everyone and can be done from the doorstep. He strongly believes you do not need to be an elite athlete or expertly trained, all you need is “an open mind, bags of enthusiasm, and boundless curiosity.”
Ready to spring clean your sense of adventure?
I believe a collective sense of adventure is one of the few lasting gifts parents can give their kids. But it needs nurturing and looking after, as well as dusting down after its winter hibernation.
Here’s my plan for a seasonal clean up and declutter…
1 Chuck out the junk
Is your sense of adventure buried under the junk of everyday life? Begin by decluttering and chucking out all those old beliefs and habits that hold you back. Now use that space to plan and dream up a new adventure! Forget past mistakes and outdated experiences and make a commitment to get out of your comfort zone. Forest Holidays are specialists at helping you do this in a safe environment. For a gentle introduction to wildlife try coloured cob pony trekking or a four-hour Forest Survival course at Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire.
2 Clean the windows
Allow yourself to see the outside world through a fresh new prism. Go back to anything you’ve discounted before, activities you’ve tried briefly, and things you said you’d never do. Look afresh at your relationship with nature; you will have changed in the last twelve months and you might find you have a totally different outlook. But, don’t be limited by the landscape you see every day; your new landscape could take you into the air, under the earth, or onto the sea; try fishing for salmon at Loch Lubnaig near Strathyre, or fishing for trout at Cropton or Keldy.
3 Dust down and polish the furniture
Refresh your kit and your skills. Repair worn out boots, polish up your binoculars, and mend that puncture. If you are determined not to go off-grid, clear your phone of apps you don’t use and download some new ones. You might want to get out and draw a shape on Strava using your coordinates, learn a new language, or go stargazing in the forest. Use online tools or forums to enlist the help of enthusiasts or locals. Use the knowledge of Forest Rangers to get the most out of an experience.
4 Give anything tired or chipped a lick of paint
Give familiar routines a new look. Get fitter; set a target and work towards it. Challenge yourself to do something better, faster, or with style; choose something you have done before but do it differently. If you are tired of road touring, a mountain biking skills course might open up the wonderful world of downhill. If you’ve done canoeing, try stand up paddle boarding on the beautiful River Wye. If you enjoy the heady heights of a hike, try leaping off a cliff at Adrenalin Quarry near Deerpark, tree climbing at Thorpe Forest or the leap of faith on the Adventure challenge at Forest of Dean.
5 Move stuff around
Get active at different times of day. Recognise the possibilities of spring – later evenings, more light and warmth. If you are working from nine to five, try getting out from five to nine. For little ones, maybe substitute normal mealtime for a Teddy Bears’ Picnic at Blackwood Forest or hunt out nocturnal wildlife on a Night Vision experience.
6 Tackle the weeds
Don’t listen to negative thoughts. Weed out people who don’t encourage you to follow your goals. Surround yourself with people who are going to be carried along with your enthusiasm. You are an adventurer and nothing’s going to stop you!
7 Plant seeds and grow flowers
Start with an acorn and grow it gradually into a tree. Try a one-mile walk with a view to walking coast to coast. Swim in a lake as preparation for the Great North Swim. Go on a Forest Ranger Adventure before heading into the wild. Plant lots of little seeds and see which flourish and bloom.
8 Bring in specialist cleaners
If your sense of adventure is beyond a quick spring clean, get help. Enlist experts to speed up your learning. A Forest Therapy Guide can take you Forest Bathing at Thorpe Forest or Blackwood Forest. Or learn the skills of archery, or clay, crossbow or air rifle shooting at Sherwood Forest.
9 Clear the cobwebs
If it’s clear you will never use the canoe in the shed, sell it and buy a bike. Swap your ice skates for a wetsuit. Sell redundant gear and reinvest the money.
10 Hoover up opportunities
Fancy a paddle but have no canoe? Try out canoeing on a Forest Holiday. Visit charity shops for inspiration or equipment and be open to what turns up. A fishing rod could lead to an angling holiday, a golf club to a hole in one. Hoover up opportunities, invitations, and ideas. Spring cleaning is not a chore, it’s the start of a new era.
Over to you
What are your tips for spring cleaning your sense of adventure, developing an adventure habit, and creating opportunities for adventure in your everyday family life? Leave a comment below and let us know or check out the Forest Holidays locations, cabins and activities on offer that might pep up your spring plans.