As more and more people move out of urban areas due to lifestyle changes brought on by COVID-19, houses with outdoor space are in hot demand. Not everyone is privileged enough to have a backyard of their own–we fully acknowledge this. However, many of these activities can be done in public parks or playgrounds. Our family spent all winter outside in 2020/2021–it was our only way to socialize. We learned a LOT about how to keep our kids entertained and occupied, even in the freezing weather. In this three-part series, we’ll share our favorite ways to get the whole family outside–no matter the weather! (Please note, these are mostly affiliate links. If you purchase something we’ve suggested, you get a great item, and your purchase benefits our blog. Thank you!)
Being outside all year round is all about finding ways to stay comfortable: warm and toasty in the winter and cool and mosquito-free in the summer. Thanks to COVID, we rarely–if ever–socialize indoors anymore. Our friends are a hearty crew–like us, they’ve learned to wear long underwear, dress in layers, and embrace the unpredictability of New England weather! Here are some things that have made our outdoor experiences more comfortable.
- High-quality, durable, long-lasting stadium chairs or camping chairs are game changers. We used to buy the cheapo ones, but they don’t last, and they aren’t comfortable. Now we own a few really nice chairs that are easy to transport and move around without sacrificing comfort. This portable folding chair and this portable rocking chair are amazing. We also love this heavy duty zero gravity chair from Dick’s. We did not buy all of these at once or we would have broken the bank! We found our folding chair with the trays at BJ’s for a cheaper price, but they don’t carry them all the time. Our trick for the rocker was to sign up for Dick’s Sporting Goods email list and use the 10% off code on the chair. We also have a super comfortable Adirondack chair that I (Amy) made through a class at a local wood shop (The Green Woodshop in Easton, MA). Over the course of 4 weeks, I built the chair from scratch with the help and guidance of Chris, the owner. My chair is amazing if I do say so myself–the seat of honor for our guests. Even if you can’t build your own Adirondack, having one or two of these adds both ambiance and comfort! 😉
- For winter months, we have two secret weapons: the Comfy wearable blanket (go ahead and laugh at us) and long underwear. We purchased our Comfy wearable blankets at COSTCO. They were sold in packages of two for roughly $45. This is much cheaper than buying them individually from other sources. Yes, you will look silly. But you can’t believe how warm and awesome these things are until you try them out. And, if your friends are like ours, they will want one too. Then you’ll all look silly when you hang out. We get thermals for the whole family at COSTCO. They are reasonably priced, and they make SUCH A DIFFERENCE.
- If you don’t have a screened-in porch in Southeastern Mass, you basically can’t live outdoors in the evening for July, August, September, and part of October because of mosquitoes with EEE and West Nile. If you don’t have a screened-in area, we highly recommend buying a portable screened gazebo and using an organic mosquito and tick spraying service; we use Simply Safer Lawn and have had good luck. We also place our own tick tubes around the yard perimeter in April and July. YouTube has videos about this. Essentially, you buy permetherin, soak cotton balls in it, and stuff them in toilet paper tubes. You leave the tubes around your yard where mice can find them. The mice take the cotton balls to make nests with them and the cotton balls kill off a lot of the ticks without doing harm to any animals. Honestly, who knows if these are effective, but they sure seem to be, and they are so easy and cheap to make. We quickly learned how to make our own after paying $75 for a bunch of toilet paper tubes to be put around our yard by the lawn company…
- For ambiance, no outdoor space is complete without some decorative lights. They are high impact!!! Even one strand will work wonders. We also love a good bluetooth speaker and a fire pit or Solo Stove.
- This last one is a weird one, but good outdoor lighting is important so that kids can play at night. We have a swing set and a climbing dome that the kids are on while the adults sit around the fire pit. We installed a solar motion sensor light on the swing set and we sometimes hang a work light or set up a spot light near the play structures so the kids can see.
These items have been invaluable to us as we’ve shifted more of our life outside. What things can your family not live without? Please share below in the comments!