Forced Family Fun

How to Enjoy the Great Outdoors (Whether You Like It or Not)!

When the leaves first started turning green again this spring, I wanted to get my family out for a hike, a bike, a walk or anything outdoorsy. Last summer on one of the last days before school, I took my two for a nature walk at a preserve that isn’t too far from our house. It was as if they came alive. They ran on the paths, swung on vines and jumped into the creek bed. It was amazing to see. After days at the pool, doing something adventure-ish awoke their spirit. I vowed to do more.

As soon as it turned warm and those new buds were on the trees, I was on a mission. I scanned the “Trails” website and app for someplace we had not been before, but someplace with a creek or river or some views. And maybe someplace with some history.

Weekend after weekend was lost to soccer game, errands, rain, church activity or worst of all kitchen counter painting.

Finally, this last weekend was Mother’s Day. The sun was shining. The day was relatively warm. The rains had ended. No one could deny me a hike on Mother’s Day. However, we had to start the day with an end-of-year church-school-celebration. As I’m head Church Mom this year and I can’t just skip the celebration. 

After that, I was rearing to get outdoors. Then my husband suggested we go to our traditional Mother’s Day restaurant and have brunch. Who can say no to Mother’s Day French Toast? Everyone knows that is a calorie free treat for Moms. So pass me the syrup. We had a lovely brunch. But a nice brunch demands one thing. A nap. So at about 12:00 on my Mother’s-Day-Hike-Day, I parked the kids in front of episodes of “Doctor Who” and took a two hour nap. I can’t complain. It was a good nap but the day was wasting away.  

I had identified a hiking spot at a State Park the night before and Grant's Birthplace and School House historical home an extra half hour away. We set the GPS in the car and turned on the Pandora PG Comedy Radio and took off. The drive was beautiful as we took the Scenic Byway Route. The world was a green cathedral, bright green leaves everywhere and beautiful mountains. At last we arrived at the Grant's School House. It was closed. The hours on the sign (and the ones I’d read online) were from Memorial Day to Labor Day. We read the historical marker and kicked the gravel. My husband, a history pro, told us all about the history. We got back in the car and headed for the State Park. Surely they don’t close those.

We got to the park and parked near some paths. Hallelujah. We were going to hike. We started off on our merry way. It was great while the path were graveled. Sadly, beyond the gravel the paths quickly turned to mud. We traveled on a little ways picking our way through the mud. My daughter’s shoe got stuck at one point and we had to pull it out. Everyone was a good trouper for me and my hiking desires. That is until the path became a pond. We threw rocks in then had to give up and turn around.

That night at dinner my husband asked, “What was your favorite part of the day?” My son had liked throwing rocks in the Path/Pond. My daughter had liked breakfast. My husband said he liked the historical sight, just seeing it, even though it was closed. Me? I had loved the drive. I had loved seeing the bright green of spring and listening to my family all safe together, laughing to the comedians. It was the journey for me. But everyone had enjoyed something beyond the ordinary errands, cleaning and yard work. Everyone had a new memory. So I’ll keep trying to schedule my Forced Family Fun because we only pass this way once.

Margee Moore is a marketing professional and mother of two outdoorsy kids. Her book “Sleeping with the Laundry: Notes from the Mommy Track”  is available on Kindle for $3.99.  

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