Apartment life: Making time to get outside

On the weekend, I branch out from cooking-related posts and write about my family, answer reader questions, or just blog about what's on my mind! If you have a question or topic you'd like me to tackle, send it my way! :)

Tereza writes,

I'd love to read on how you make time to enjoy the parks, trails etc. Have you found any good tricks to balancing your work with the need for the children to be outside? Do you let the housework slide? Do you clean up first then go? Do you follow a schedule and schedule outside time in? What do you do to ensure that your children get plenty of fresh air?

This is one of the hardest things about having 4 young children and NO yard!

#1. I am really not great about making sure we get outside enough. Last summer we had lots of sunny weather and we did get out pretty often, but this year? The weather has waffled between cold and rainy, with a few downright HOT days and then a few really great days of sunshine.

I say that as an excuse -- because you would think that with weather like that, I would jump at the first sunny day and take the kids outside, right? Nope. There have been many days this summer when Joshua came home and asked "Did you and the kids get outside today?" and I had to say "No..." :(

I tend to get behind in things ("things" like housework or blogging or going outside) and then get a little down about it, and then neglect the very things that would actually help me feel better and get more done! It's a horrible cycle that lands me in a pit of not eating right, not sleeping enough, not getting exercise, and just generally NOT being productive!

Getting outside regularly (as in nearly daily if not DAILY) helps me (and the kids) a lot physically and mentally, so I know it needs to be a priority and I continue to work on making it a priority. Yes, even over housework, blogging, or just about anything else!

Ruth, eating peanuts
Ruth, shelling peanuts for a snack. We were having a horrible morning so I put shoes and socks on everyone, grabbed a bag of peanuts and some water, stuck Moshe in the Ergo, and walked to the park. We sat, played, and ate for several hours before I felt ready to go back home!

My methods:

1. Get outside first. Worry about other stuff later. It'll still be there.

2. Better yet, skip some of that other stuff. Joshua and I made a very bare-bones schedule/routine of sorts for me, and decided on a handful of non-negotiable things. Those are: Bible time, outside, school, showers, and (simple) meals. Everything else can -- and often does -- wait.

3. For housework: Minimize what I NEED to do, and then enlist children to help get it done.

Laundry: Joshua suggested I do laundry once a week and that has worked well and saved time rather than doing lots of miscellaneous loads. I do a big load of: towels/bibs/dish rags, socks/underwear, kids, Joshua's, and mine. Bedding is just whenever. (Not often enough but OH WELL!) Kids help a LOT with laundry!

Dishes: This has to be done daily.

Cooking: Make easier meals. Have Joshua grill a lot. Serve fresh fruits and veggies as sides.

Cleaning: I love a clean house and I hate the mess and dirt! But, it just can't take top priority, even with kids to help. Yehoshua (6) does the vacuuming -- but I don't make him vacuum daily, even though the floor probably needs it. Maybe when I have older kids, they will be faster or more efficient at cleaning and more will get done.

So here's my trick for cleaning: Have company over every week or two. Make a nice meal for them and everyone works hard to clean the house. We get to enjoy a nicer meal than usual and the bathroom finally gets that much-needed cleaning. :P And the work is more fun because we're all working for the exciting evening/day of fellowship and friends!

So, these are my meager efforts... remember, I usually do some things, but never all things. And I have to be content with that! :)

Does anyone else have tips for getting outside? I can't believe summer is almost over! :(

Smiley Moshe!


Exercise tips from my life (when we had 2 kids)

Indoor exercise ideas

Getting it all "done"

More photos from this week:

These three LOVE to swim!

Sleepy Moshe

What Moshe does (hopefully!) while the others swim: Sleep! :) I love him.

Moshe, scooting

Little Mister Moshe. Super cute and a Super-Scooter these days! :)

Ruth heads straight to the blackberries!

Yehoshua eats peanuts

Eating peanuts at the park and discussing multiplication. :)


Phew I am not the only one then:):)!! Thanks for answering my question and here is to both of us doing the best we can!!:) My own best tip would be to just do it..if I don't just take them out...well it doesn't happen. Like you said it just has to be a main priority because it helps us all so much!


You're welcome! I love your questions... you always ask ones that are fun to answer. :)

I know I've said it before, but your children are some of the cutest children I've ever seen! I'm a proud mommy and grandma and I have sweet little darlings of my own-so I should know!
I especially loved the photo of Moshe smiling up to the camera (in the dark brown shirt with the blue trim)---so adorable!
I do agree about outside time being a necessity--especially for young children---but really for everyone. Like you, as a mom, I find that my mood improves when I get daily outside time-even if it's only for 20 minutes.
Where I live, summers are horribly hot and humid so my littles (which aren't so little anymore) don't like going out until later in the evening and then we have to contend with bugs. Needless to say, I prefer the cooler months when we can get out and spend an hour or more getting fresh air and exercise. :-)

Thank you so much, Michelle! :) Moshe just melts my heart with his little smiles... but every age is fun -- so far -- my oldest is only 6 so we'll see! ;)

The weather here is so much nicer for getting outside more year-round than in the Midwest! I don't miss the summers there... we were always tempted to stay in the (air-conditioned) house for most of the summer! And the bugs and mosquitos really "bugged" us too. :D

I agree in getting outdoors BEFORE thinking of all that calls to keep you (us) inside! I never regret being outdoors, but do when we don't. LOL!

I hope to begin that schedule tomorrow!

My little one (2.5yo) had the best time just riding his horse (a small broom) around the block on Saturday and blowing bubbles! I also got some weeding, trimming (by hand) while he wandered near-by after that.


Blowing bubbles is so fun!

My boys' latest thing is bikes/tricycles. But it's so hilly here (dangerous for the kids on wheels and with traffic!) that unless we have a vehicle to take the bikes to a park, we usually just use our running shoes and walk to a park! :)

I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate these posts about your sweet family and the goings on. Such great tips, too!

Thank you! :)

Hey Tammy - I live in an apartment too and I just wanted to say - it's HARD having little ones in an apartment. Our apartment grounds are*so* not ideal for kids either. It's an old building with constant danger of getting hit by a car right outside our door. The only (small) grassy area is very poorly maintained and absolutely infested with dog droppings.

I have a 4 week old and a 22 month old. Still getting into the groove with the new baby but I feel sorry for my little toddler as he longs to get fresh air and movement but I can't say "just go into the backyard" because there is none. Lately sometimes I hold the baby and try my best to watch my toddler while he plays in a small patch of dirt in a safe area outside. This is where obedience is crucial. Having a well-trained child is essential to his safety in a very urban environment. Thankfully my hubby gets the 22 month old outside for a bit most days for some good play with just the 2 of them.

You are doing a great job if you get outside with all 4 kiddos - good for you.

Aww, that stinks. I know we've cleaned doggie poo off lots of little shoes here... which is extremely annoying and frustrating!! This year has been better than last year was. :) And our apartments has a play set area but it is often flooded (and I mean DEEP puddles... we take toy boats for them!) from the rain or sprinklers! Apartment life is just not super kid-friendly. :)

I put the baby in a carrier and take a walk... I used to push the older child in a stroller, but now Ruth walks everywhere so it's just Moshe who needs carried/pushed. Are you able to do a stroller/carrier combo to get to a park or some *place* without driving? :) I am so glad we live near many parks! :)

It's so cool to read of everyones struggles and how they cope...I really appreciate all the input/ideas here!! I always read something in the comments that makes me think etc.

This post and the recent one about being content have really been a blessing to me in these past days-things had been a little rough but I appreciate knowing others struggle and find solutions and make it through and that all is not perfect everywhere else.


Thank you, Alicia. :)

That verse was constantly on my mind when I had little ones. It helps you to remember what's most important and what doesn't really matter that much. Teaching the children, showing them love, and enjoying them should be higher on the list that a sparkling house and feasts each day. :)

I have always loved that motivation for a clean house...company! It really works for us too!

A lot of people have a lot more chores for their children than we did, but by the time they were 5 (and could tell time) we had some early morning chores for them that really helped! Vacuuming was a big one, and I would rotate where they vacuumed so that it all was covered in a couple of days. If they had to have their rooms picked up before bedtime and then helped with a few chores in the morning (vacuuming, dusting, some light bathroom cleaning), and if they cleared the table and as they were old enough, loaded the dishwasher, it was a lot easier for me to keep a bit of order in the house, even if I didn't get things as clean as I liked. I found it very helpful and encouraging for even a half hour of cleaning to be done early in the day so there was plenty of time for more fun later!

"if they cleared the table and as they were old enough, loaded the dishwasher, it was a lot easier for me to keep a bit of order in the house, even if I didn't get things as clean as I liked. I found it very helpful and encouraging for even a half hour of cleaning to be done early in the day so there was plenty of time for more fun later!"

I so agree! It is always amazing to me how having several sets of hands makes the work go so much faster... double the helpers seems to go triple-quick! :) Or else we're having more fun and don't notice the time. :)

Moshe is just as cute as the rest of your children. They are so adorable. You are truly blessed!

Thank you, Sydney! :)

Hi, Tammy. I just found your blog from your "Labor Day" link at The Finer Things in Life. THANK YOU for your insights on living in an apartment with lots of little ones. I need to be better at making it a priority to get out. I can't tell you how many perfectly beautiful days go by when my kids don't leave our apartment at all. They are so much happier when they get a little grass time. :) To me, it's putting mothering ahead of homemaking to take them outside to play. Thanks for the inspiration!

Thank YOU for your sweet comment... really, outside-time is a big struggle for me so if my writing has been inspiring -- the glory goes to God!! I am constantly fighting all my excuses... it's too hot, too cold, might rain, IS raining (quite likely this year :P), it's nap time, it's lunch time, Moshe just went to sleep, etc etc... the excuses just never end :( I have to MAKE myself push past that mental block and just GET OUT. And until I can get out at, say, 8am, our lunch or nap times have been very interrupted but OH WELL! :)

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