Make Outdoor Living A Family Priority

June 16, 2010 by Amy Clark

I love nothing more than lounging around in the backyard with my kids all summer long. I will do anything to stay outside and chill in our big backyard.

Indiana winters are so long and our summers are far too short. I really try to make the most of every moment of sunshine. I want to share a few things we’ve been doing to make outdoor living a priority in our home.

Chores come first. We all love being outside and in order for me to be able to camp out with the kids in the backyard, we need to have our indoor chores accomplished. The short list for me is to unload the dishwasher, make the beds, and swipe the bathrooms. The kids have to eat their breakfast, get dressed, and tidy up their rooms and playroom. With the promise of fun and relaxation outside, we all are more motivated to do our chores inside.

Get dinner prep done. After I finish the chores, it’s time to get together whatever we will be eating for dinner in the evening. Slow cooker meals are a great alternative in the summer because they don’t heat up the house and can be pulled together quickly. Likewise, marinating or prepping meat for the grill is another way to keep the house cool and stay one step ahead of the game.

Of course, anything you can do right after grocery shopping will give you more time to enjoy outdoors. Chop up fruits and veggies for snacking on throughout the week. Cook pasta for pasta salads and keep it in a food storage bag to make a yummy cold pasta salad. Bake chicken for the week to dice in tortilla wraps, for cold chicken salad sandwiches, or to toss into pasta salad. I also wash and chop lettuce for the week to use on burgers, for a light lunch for myself or as a side salad with our dinner.

Take the night off. Instead of fixing an “indoor” dinner, roast it over an outdoor fire pit instead. Children love the novelty of making food over a fire and you will love having a night off from cooking. We try to do this a couple times a month as a fun “family night” tradition.

So scale back the fancy dinners and keep things simple with grilled meats, fresh veggies, and fresh fruit. Summer is not meant to be spent in a hot kitchen, so get acquainted with your grill or slow cooker and enjoy that beautiful weather outside.

Next time, I’ll talk about outdoor excursions and indoor necessities. In the meantime, tell me – what’s your family’s favorite summertime activity?

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark has been the driving force behind MomAdvice since 2004. In addition to running a successful community for women and running after her two kids, she has appeared on The Early Show, and in Parents magazine, Redbook, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, MSN Money and The New York Times.