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Get ready for a season of outdoor family fun

  • Written by ARA
 It’s only natural to be excited about warm, sunny weather. But it’s not always easy to get the family outside. With work and school schedules, video games and the Web at your fingertips - not to mention the ever-present household chores - sometimes the hours slip away and the opportunity is lost.

To prevent spring and summer weather from getting away from you, a little advance planning goes a long way. Spontaneity, backed up by preparation, is the key, says lifestyle expert Colleen Burns, "The Mom on the Run." Burns is the mother of five boys ages 6 to 16 who regularly offers parenting advice on local and national TV, as well as her website themomontherun.tv.

As part of a partnership with Lance Sandwich Crackers this season, Burns offers tips for how families can spend more fun time together while enjoying the outdoors.

Turn on the "time finder"

Capturing the free moments you have is the most important thing you can do. And if you know how to look for them and plan to create some free time, you’ll be able to fit more fun into the family schedule.

* Add "kid time" to your calendar. Set aside an hour or two when the only focus is an activity with your child.

* Tackle chores together. By involving the kids in the daily chores, they learn responsibility and the value of hard work. You get your lawn mowed, gutters cleaned and flowers planted. It’s a win-win that frees up more quality time to do fun stuff.

* Plan for small windows of time. Make a list of fun activities you can do with your children in an hour, a half-hour or even 20 minutes. It will help you take advantage of unexpected and priceless free time with your children.

* Switch it up. It’s okay to change your routine. Push back dinner or bed time occasionally to do something fun and be present in the moment with your children. Stay up late to look at the stars or have a family game night.

Plan to be spontaneous

One of the best ways to take advantage of even small windows of free time is to place a pre-packed "spontaneity bag" in your car or by the door. Add these items (and any others particularly relevant to your family) to the bag:

* Sunscreen: Make sure it’s waterproof with an SPF of 30 or higher and is broad spectrum (blocks both UVA and UVB).

* Water bottles: Metal bottles take life’s knocks well and cut down on waste.

* Snacks: Think of treats like Lance Sandwich Crackers that are easy to pack, and keep kids satisfied without preservatives, trans fat or high-fructose corn syrup.

* Adhesive bandages and pain reliever: For those unexpected bumps and bruises.

* Small- to medium-sized towel: Perfect to sit on outdoors, wrap up if it’s chilly or dry off if you’re caught in the rain.

* Balls: Depending on the age of your kids, have a variety of shapes and sizes to play with outdoors.

* Bubbles: Have a contest to see who can keep their bubbles from popping the longest.

* Sidewalk chalk: An easy game of hopscotch, Tic-Tac-Toe or Hangman is right at your fingertips.

* Jump rope: Also a great way to stay active together.

* Small kite: Lots of fun on a windy day.

* Whistles/kazoos: The outdoors is the perfect place for noisemakers you usually avoid at home.

You could also pack themed spontaneity bags - such as a picnic-themed bag, a swimming bag or a campfire bag, tailored to your family’s favorite activities.

Regardless of what you choose to put in your spontaneity bag, you’ll need to pack drinks and sensible snacks like Lance Sandwich Crackers.

With a little creativity, you’ll be perfectly prepped for family fun throughout the season.

To access more outdoor fun tips from Colleen Burns, visit www.MomsLoveLance.com.

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