Inspired by the sailing trip I took with my four-year-old son, a solo parent of an almost five-year old and a five-month old wrote to me. She explained how she’s itching to go on an adventure and wants to plan something wild and unforgettable. Instead of feeling excited and empowered, she’s immobilized by overwhelming and self-defeating doubts.

Sometimes perfectionism get the best of us, holding us back from participating in the life we most want to be living. The outdoor culture fetishizes big adventures, confusing longer, bigger, more beautiful trips with profound life-changing experiences. The two are not the same.

These heavy expectations set the bar so high that it becomes impossible to imagine success, even in our dreams. If we can’t dream it, we won’t take the small actions that set our journeys into motion.

There’s another way.

Start small. More often than not my son balks at my grandiose plans on getting us outside. The more I have a vision of how I want things to go, the more he resists. He cries, sulks or lags behind.

He has a way of reminding me that adventure can be simple.

My son can’t pass a flower without stopping and taking a long inhale. Every night he looks up at the moon and points it out, looking at me to share in his delight. He can’t pass a puddle without splashing around, covering himself in mud.

He’s asking for opportunities for wonder, wide-open time and space that allow him to explore his curiosity.

Encourage your kids to smell flowers. Let our kids eat dirt and play in the mud. Help them climb trees. Splash your kids. Tickle them with the blades of grass. Pull your kids onto your lap and point to the moon and just stare.

Let curiosity be your guide for adventuring with kids outdoors. Everywhere you look, you’ll find beauty and wonder. Not a day will be boring because of that.

By spending more time outside on a daily basis, you’ll attract a community interested in raising their kids outdoors too. Time outdoors will lead to small adventures. Your kids will slowly get comfortable and will let you know when they are ready to push further into the wilderness. Your skills will grow together.

Don’t wait to be ready for a big adventure to come together. Take the leap and get outside today. Be present for whatever nature comes your way. It might be a butterfly or a spider web or a raindrop. Let it energize and inspire you.

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