Nest: MNN's green community

Hello there, and welcome to another pledge in MNN's Nest, an interactive program that helps you create and accomplish easy and Earth-friendly personal goals. With each goal that you tackle, you earn points that are then turned into donations to your favorite nonprofit eco-charity.

Now that winter is (finally!) behind us and it's safe for you and your kids to venture outside without donning a multitude of layers, consider tackling this challenge, an easy and fun task — if you can even call it that — that involves spending a bit more QT with Mother Nature. There are numerous ways to get your kids (and yourself) outside more this year and, naturally, we've got a few pointers to get you started.

A lil' thing they call fresh air: Your brood might protest if attempts to pry them away from the Wii are quick and aggressive, so ease into this challenge with simple activity replacements. Once a month, instead of a two-hour weekend excursion to the multiplex, swap in a steam-burning nature walk in a local park or recreation area (this MNN writer's parents will be forever indebted to the hyperactivity-draining nature trails at Snake Lake); instead of dining in, have an al fresco picnic in the backyard and let the kids set the scene and perhaps even let them camp out once dinner is done; instead of driving to the supermarket, try hoofing it and invite the kids along (more hands to help carry back all those reusable shopping bags!); plan a family bike ride instead of planning a family trip to the mall; instead of begging your kids to clean their rooms, sign up as family for a community clean-up or beautification project; or, if your kids drone on and on about being bored, tell 'em to take a hike ... and then join them. The possibilities of incorporating a little fresh air into mundane daily routines are endless so feel free to get creative. Once outdoors, the sky's the limit.

Healthy hearts and active minds: Not only will spending more time outdoors this year get you and your progeny reacquainted with the many splendors of Mother Nature after a long winter break ... there are the mental and physical health perks that come with anti-couch potato activities, too. Physical fitness often plays an integral part in outdoor activities so you'll be encouraging heart-healthy habits for life and help combat childhood obesity rates that have, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tripled since 1980 (more than 16 percent of American children are obese). Plus, by spending more time outdoors you can throw in impromptu eco-educational lessons on why it's important to give Mother Nature the TLC she deserves.

A helping hand: For more ideas on how to spend more kid-friendly time communing with Mother Nature without going on the full-on Thoreau route, check out the MNN Family channel where Jenn Savedge frequently blogs about new and exciting ways to incorporate environmentalism into family time. Plus, if your home is full of burgeoning foodies of the non-junk variety, Home blogger Matt and Food blogger Robin frequently discuss a hot new eco-trend that's perfect to get the rugrats involved in: backyard farming.

Okay, it's high time to tear yourself away from the computer (but thanks for visiting!) and head outdoors to put this very special WorldShares challenge into action. But before you do repeat after me: I will get my kids (and myself!) outside more this year.

More personal pledges to consider: