Setting SMART Goals for Getting Outside

I’m writing this post for myself.

I need to set clear goals for getting myself and my children outdoors more in 2018.

It’s funny, really. My career, research, and even teaching revolves around the benefits of nature and getting outside. Yet, when I have 10 things on my to-do list for the day (or the high is 40 degrees!), the last thing I feel like I have time for is unstructured play outdoors. Even though I know the benefits of nature, both for me and for my kids!

Science suggests that nature can help me be a nicer mom. Nature can also help mitigate stressful life events for my kids. It encourages creativity, cooperative behavior, improved self-esteem, and better self-discipline. Studies have also shown that nature in the curriculum can increase academic scores of children!

So why am I still inside?

Because I’m exhausted! I have 2 kids, 2 jobs, a husband, a very needy dog-cat and a centipede that I refuse to name because he was supposed to go back outside after 2 weeks (even though he’s been living with us for over a year now!). I have house chores, classes to prep, volunteer hours and projects with the PTA. You know exactly what I’m talking about.


It’s hard to tell from this picture, but there is a drop-off just yards ahead. I’m strongly considering a leash. The little one is squirrelly and our property is anything but flat. I want him to independently explore while still being safe!

So, let’s set a goal. A SMART goal. One that is easy to accomplish despite our crazy schedules and workload. After all, with all the benefits that nature has to offer, we deserve it to ourselves to get outside and recharge!


SMART goals are:

  • Specific,
  • Measurable,
  • Attainable,
  • Relevant, and
  • Time-Bound
My SMART goal:

My kids and I will have unstructured, outdoor play at least twice a week for 30 minutes at a time.

I typically add weather to my weekly BuJo spread so I can plan for outdoor adventures!

That’s doable, right?!

During the summer, this is easily attainable. We’re outside everyday and sometimes for hours at a time. However, when it’s cold outside, I have a hard time meeting this goal. But, with the help of my BuJo (Bullet Journal) I can plan ahead for days that are warm with little wind. So, even if we are sick or feeling under the weather, we can still enjoy some sunshine.

If you need ideas on how to keep your children engaged outside, check out my post on winter nature play for kids!

What is your goal? Do you need help being held accountable? Leave a comment in the space below or join the conversation on my facebook page.




Thanks for reading,

Dr. Jenny


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