Tyre swing

How to do kidulting outside

Kidulting isn’t a word we had when I was growing up, but it means getting back to the activities that you enjoyed as a child.

The opposite of adulting, if you like.

Kidulting is about taking part in the activities you did and loved when you were younger, whether that’s playing in sand, colouring, building with Lego (a lot of that goes on in our house for all the age groups) or bashing sticks against tree trunks until they break.

Yep, that’s a favourite for our kids at the moment.

Playing outside in woodland is something many of us did as kids, and if you take your own children to a forest you’ll see how they interact with the resources around them: climbing trees, playing in puddles, stripping the bark off sticks.

As a forest school practitioner, we see the same in adults too, when we get together as adult groups outdoors. For example, at an event this year for father’s day, the fathers tended to hold back a bit in the first half of the session, watching their kids.

But as the session progressed, they joined in more and more, participating as individuals, and no longer simply there as care-givers.

Get outside for kidulting

One fun (and free) way to get into kidulting is to go for a walk in the forest.

Listen, observe, kick piles of leaves, take the time to wonder at the mini beasts living under a log. Balance on tree stumps. Leap across ditches. Squeeze into a den if you find one that kids have made, or make one yourself.

Don’t take your kids! We find that kids act differently when adults are around, and adults are the same.

Read next: 15 Things to do in the forest for free

The benefits of kidulting outdoors

You might not want to get as muddy as some of the children do at our forest school clubs, but there are still plenty of benefits to getting outside!

All the benefits of forest school apply to adults too. When I ask adults how they feel after being out for a walk, sometimes it’s hard for them to put it into words, but they do feel ‘better’.

It’s about clarity of thought, fresh air, being in nature — all these benefits have been substantiated in the past, and you feel them even if you can’t express them.

Slowing your heart rate or speeding it up, feeling like you are part of something bigger and knowing the world is doing its thing, regardless of where you are right now.

It’s about being connected.

Kidulting’s benefits are the same: bringing back a sense of fun, feeling like the weight of the world has gone from your shoulders for a little while at least, and laughing — we don’t do enough laughing as adults.

Ditch the organised activities

Yes, you can do organised outdoor activities like tree top walks, but part of being a kid was the exploring, self-expression and freedom to just go where you want and find your own interests, wasn’t it?

That’s what you’d be trying to capture: the freedom and choice that being outside gives. Obviously you need to act within safe and social boundaries, but choose the path you want to follow in the woods, pick up sticks, weave long leaves together, hunt out a leaf skeleton, be inspired by what’s around you.

Forest school provides an environment where children can do that, and it’s perfect for adults too – and you don’t need to pay anything or follow a leader, you can just go out and enjoy the wonder of being in the trees by taking an open mind and a flask of hot chocolate and seeing where you end up.

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