Getting In Trail Time When The Days Are Short

Most of our outdoor time from mid-August to the end of October consists of soccer practice and games. Now that the season has ended, we want to get back to walking or hiking more consistently. However, now that sunset is much earlier, we have to consider how we’ll get our trail time into our days. 

One big advantage we have is homeschooling. We can take a 10 AM break and hit the trail for half an hour to stretch our legs and clear our heads. It’s especially nice on sunny autumn days so we can soak up some natural vitamin D. I’m going to assume that a large chunk of my readership does not have this flexibility in their schedule and come up with some alternative plans to get out on the trail with short daylight hours.

The Daily Family Reunion

Early afternoons are an option if your kids don’t come home from school wiped out from the day. Some kids get off the bus energized, and this is a great time to take a walk, bike ride, or hike. There are several benefits to some exercise and fresh air at this interval in the day. 

It gives you time to reconnect with the kids and ask about their day in a natural, unforced way. They will cherish having your undivided attention after the hustle and bustle of the classroom. 

Your children have a chance to burn off pent up energy. Homework time can go more smoothly after some light physical activity. Getting homework done right away after school is a good way to keep your evening plans on task. However, I remember being a kid practically bouncing out of my seat trying to focus when I just got home. I’m sure many of you parents have discovered that homework time immediately after school is a non-starter.

It’s likely the warmest part of the day when the kids are getting home from school. This time of year, the temperature tends to peak in the early afternoon. I’ve found that the cold months don’t seem as long when you make a point to get out in the sunshine and when the days are warmest. 

My Friend, The Crockpot

As I thought through our daily routine, I realized that after dinner walks are done for the season as well. Unless you don’t mind walking in the dark, but I don’t recommend that as a family activity. The next block of time available to the typical family is the late afternoon/early evening. 

If you are the usual dinner prep person in your household (as am I), then you know that late afternoon and early evening is cooking time. That’s where my friend, the crock pot saves the day. I used to put the crockpot to work when my girls were little and had dance lessons every week throughout the school year. It only takes a little preparation to free up this chunk of the day for some family trail time.

I love coming in from some outdoor time to a nice warm kitchen that smells delicious! You can even set the table ahead of time so you walk in, wash hands, and serve supper. 

We don’t set our table like this every day, of course! I just thought I’d share a fun photo 🙂

Meal Ideas

It wouldn’t seem very helpful for me to suggest cooking with your crockpot and then not give some meal ideas to go in it. Some of my kids favorites are pot roast, teriyaki chicken, and pulled pork. 

I hope this helps you to make some trail time for your family even though the days are short. We can make the most of our time and enjoy the seasons with a little preparation and ingenuity.

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