Debi Huang Chats About Exploring Nature and Traveling With Family
Tell us more about yourself, your site, and your family. What motivated you to start your blog “Go Explore Nature”?
I’m a Los Angeles-based wife, mom and adventure guide for two young boys. My blog is all about connecting kids and families with nature in Los Angeles and beyond. It’s a blend of outdoor adventuring tips, reviews of places we go (like parks, beaches and gardens) and simple ideas for nature play in your own backyard.
I started blogging 3 years ago as a way to cope with the death of my dad. I was so raw and emotional back then and the only place I could take comfort was in nature. Outdoors I found quiet moments to think and places to breathe when the rest of my life felt overwhelming.
Spending time in nature was something my dad and I both enjoyed – and something I wanted my boys to do, too. Writing has always been an emotional outlet for me (and a career choice as well), so it felt like the perfect time to start a blog about my family’s adventures in nature. Sometimes those adventures take us on trails and to gardens and beaches; other times, we explore nature right in our own backyard.
You and your family love to travel (obviously!) What are some of your favorite places you’ve been? What are the best places to take kids?
We do enjoy traveling – often to the same places from one year to the next. We’re repeat visitors to Yosemite National Park and Las Vegas, for example, two places that couldn’t be more opposite from each other. And while some people might scoff at the idea of taking kids to Vegas, we love it. No matter where we go, we carve out time during our stay to visit places of interest to both adults and kids. Often these are outdoor attractions like national or state parks (yes, even in Vegas!). Time outside not only helps the kids burn off some energy, it also helps slow down the often frenetic pace of travel.
Can you explain your “Fun Friday” activity posts a little more? What would you say is your favorite activity?
When I first began my blog, every Friday was “Fun Friday.” Each week, I shared a simple outdoor nature-inspired activity you could do with your kids right in your own backyard – like a nature scavenger hunt or creating a fairy garden. I eventually compiled a bunch of these ideas into what remains my most popular post, 50 Ways to Explore Nature in Your Own Backyard.
As my blog developed, I found myself sharing “Fun Friday” ideas a lot more than once a week. So I created a spot where you can find all of these ideas anytime on my Backyard Nature Fun page.
As for my favorite activity, any time I’m outside with the kids is a treasure. I especially enjoy seeing my boys discover new things – whether it’s a waterfall at the end of a trail or an ant marching on our front porch. Getting to share in their feelings of excitement, wonder and awe is a privilege.
What we do in our backyard changes from season to season and as my kids’ interests change. At the moment, my 7.5 year old is enamored with all things science, so we’re constantly trying new “experiments” like floating paper boats and setting up a weather station. My 4 year old is super creative and loves getting messy, so he enjoys painting, playing with water and going on bug hunts.
You’re very active. What are some of the things you like to do to completely relax?
If I’m being completely honest, my favorite activity is sleeping. I also watch an embarrassing amount of TV once the kids hit the hay. And I would go insane if not for my twice-weekly trail hikes with girlfriends (sans kids). It feels like we solve the problems of the world out on the trail! The serenity I get from spending time in nature helps restore balance in my otherwise busy life.
How has writing a mommy blog affected your life? How about your family’s’ life?
My blog has introduced me to many amazing people, who have in turn helped me muddle through this thing called parenthood with a little more purpose than before. I’ve connected with likeminded moms and dads who provide continual reminders about what I want most for my kids: A happy, simple childhood filled with many moments of magic and wonder.
These days, I’m much more likely to say “no” to signing up for yet another after-school activity and much more likely to say “yes” to doing absolutely nothing. I’ve made a commitment to getting my kids outside every single day. And we definitely go on some adventures just to try something new to share with readers, like going camping in a teepee or hosting a backyard movie night. But really, we’re just the same four people we were before I started blogging, only now we’re sharing our outdoor adventures with anyone who wants to read.
What are your top 5 tips for doing outdoor activities with kids?
Actually, I think there are just things to remember when it comes to getting outside with kids: Keep it simple and have fun. Don’t break your back aiming for 60 minutes of outside time every day if that’s not realistic. Be content with 15. And remember that you don’t need to head to the trails to connect with nature; it can be as simple as watching a sunset, enjoying a family picnic or going on a backyard bug hunt. What matters is that you’re outside together and doing something fun.