family at a red incense burner summit in Hong Kong embodying the YOLO mindset
We try our best to live each day like it’s our last.

The YOLO Mindset Is Transformative

As parents, we often find ourselves balancing between nurturing our children’s growth and preparing them for the future. In our family, this balance takes the form of a YOLO (You Only Live Once) mindset combined with the joy and benefits of outdoor adventures. This approach has transformed our lives and the lives of our children, Peri (five years old) and Kai (three and a half), fostering a deep sense of gratitude and an appreciation for the world around them.

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Embracing The YOLO Parenting Mindset

two boys hiking with a YOLO mindset
We try to get outdoors every day.

So, what exactly is a YOLO mindset in parenting? It’s about living each day to the fullest, seizing opportunities, and teaching our kids to appreciate every moment. This doesn’t mean reckless behavior, but rather an intentional choice to embrace life’s adventures, learn from every experience, and recognize that everything eventually comes to an end. It means sometimes we might even expose them to the benefits of taking a hike in the rain.

Understanding A Gratitude Attitude

a boy eating a wild mountain strawberry with a gratitude attitude
A fresh mountain strawberry is a sweet treat!

A gratitude attitude is the practice of recognizing and appreciating the good in our lives. For us, this means acknowledging the beauty in nature, the joy in small moments, and the love within our family. It’s a mindset that helps us feel positive, resilient, and emotionally well.

Defining Outdoor Family Adventures

two boys rock climbing during an outdoor family adventure
The boys love bushwhacking, especially when there are rocks to climb.

Outdoor family adventures are the experiences we share in nature, from hiking and camping to exploring new places around the world. These adventures are more than just trips; they are opportunities for learning, bonding, and growing together as a family.

The YOLO Parenting Advantage

a father and two sons having a yolo mindset while riding a sampan in Hong Kong
We rode on this sampan because we went out on a limb to ask for a ride.

The benefits of a YOLO mindset in parenting are immense. It encourages Peri and Kai to step out of their comfort zones, try new things, and embrace challenges. Peri and Kai, through our various outdoor adventures, have learned to adapt, be curious, and find joy in exploration. This mindset builds their confidence and prepares them for the unpredictability of life.

The Pitfalls Of Avoiding YOLO Parenting

On the flip side, not embracing a YOLO mindset can lead to a life constrained by fear and missed opportunities. Children might become risk-averse, missing out on valuable experiences that shape their character and resilience. Without this adventurous spirit, they might struggle with adaptability and confidence in their future endeavors.

Strategies For Embodying A YOLO Mindset In Parenting

  1. Say Yes to Adventures: Embrace opportunities for new experiences, whether it’s a spontaneous weekend trip or trying a new outdoor activity.
  2. Lead by Example: Show your children how to take risks and embrace challenges by doing so yourself. Your actions will inspire them to follow suit.
  3. Create a Bucket List: As a family, make an evergrowing list of adventures and experiences you want to try. Simultaneously, find comfort and beauty in the idea that you’ll never “complete” your list. This keeps the spirit of exploration alive and gives you goals to work towards together.
  4. Encourage Curiosity: Foster a sense of wonder and curiosity in your children. Answer their questions, explore with them, and encourage them to ask more.
  5. Celebrate Small Wins: Recognize and celebrate achievements, no matter how small. This reinforces the idea that every step forward is valuable.
  6. Practice Mindfulness: Teach your children to be present in the moment and appreciate the now. Mindfulness helps in fully experiencing and enjoying life’s adventures.

The Power Of Gratitude

a young boy looks at a fresh smore, about to take a bite, with a campfire in the background
Kai is always grateful when we have smores!

Cultivating a gratitude attitude in our children has been transformative, and research suggests that it can positively impact mental health and well-being in all children. Gratitude helps them appreciate what they have, leading to greater happiness and contentment. Research supports that gratitude can enhance well-being and reduce stress, making it a crucial component of our parenting approach.

The Dangers Of Ingratitude

Conversely, a lack of gratitude can lead to entitlement and dissatisfaction. Children who do not learn to appreciate the little things may grow up always wanting more, unable to find contentment in what they have. This mindset can affect their relationships and overall happiness.

Strategies For Fostering A Gratitude Attitude In Children

  1. Model Gratitude: Children learn by observing. Expressing gratitude openly and frequently in your daily life sets a powerful example for your children to follow.
  2. Gratitude Journals: Encourage your children to keep a journal where they can write or draw things they are thankful for. This helps them reflect on positive experiences and reinforces a gratitude habit.
  3. Thank You Notes: Make writing thank you notes a regular practice. Whether it’s for gifts or kind gestures, this simple act teaches children to appreciate and acknowledge the efforts of others.
  4. Daily Gratitude Rituals: Incorporate gratitude into your daily routine, such as sharing one thing each person is grateful for during dinner. This ritual helps keep gratitude at the forefront of your family’s interactions. Our Gratitude Rock, essentially a talking stick, gets passed around nearly every mealtime and helps us share our gratitude.
  5. Mindful Moments: During outdoor adventures, take moments to pause and reflect on the beauty of nature. Teach your children to appreciate their surroundings and the experiences they are having.
  6. Acts of Kindness: Encourage your children to perform acts of kindness, big or small. Helping others can foster a sense of gratitude and a greater appreciation for their own lives.
  7. Storytelling: Share stories, either personal or from books, that highlight themes of gratitude and appreciation. Discuss the lessons and values in these stories with your children.

The Joy Of Outdoor Family Adventures

a boy sitting on a grassy mountainside embodying a yolo mindset
Outdoor adventures are our lifeblood.

Our outdoor adventures have provided countless benefits for Peri and Kai. Being in nature fosters physical health, creativity, and environmental awareness. It also strengthens our family bonds as we share these unique experiences. Studies have shown that time spent outdoors can improve mental health and cognitive functioning in children.

The Consequences Of Missing Out

a boy playing on the ground in the jungle of Hong Kong
Kai is right at home playing in the jungle.

Not engaging in outdoor adventures means missing out on these significant benefits. Children may become more sedentary, less connected to nature, and miss the opportunity to develop essential life skills. The lack of exposure to the outdoors can also limit their ability to handle stress and build resilience.

Reciprocal Reinforcement: YOLO And Gratitude

two boys riding a sampan in Hong Kong
Peri and Kai were grateful for this spontaneous boat ride.

A YOLO mindset and a gratitude attitude reinforce each other. Our adventurous lifestyle encourages our children to appreciate the present moment and the beauty around them. In turn, their gratitude for these experiences motivates us to continue seeking new adventures, creating a positive feedback loop.

We Are Still A Work In Progress

While we strive to embody a YOLO mindset and cultivate gratitude in our children through outdoor adventures, we acknowledge that we are not perfect. There are days when we struggle to balance it all, and moments when things don’t go as planned. Embracing this journey means accepting our imperfections and learning from them. We continue to grow together as a family, taking each adventure as an opportunity to improve and deepen our bond.

Creating A Lasting Legacy

two boys walking on a typhoon shelter wall in Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong
We hope the boys’ sense of YOLO and gratitude will take them far.

By embracing a YOLO mindset and cultivating gratitude, we are creating a legacy for Peri and Kai. They are learning to live fully, appreciate deeply, and face challenges with confidence. This legacy is not just about the adventures we have today but about instilling values that will guide them throughout their lives.

YOLO Mindset In Parenting – Conclusion

Appreciating the small things means always being able to appreciate something.

Our journey as a family has been enriched by our YOLO mindset and our dedication to fostering gratitude through outdoor adventures. Peri and Kai are growing up with a deep appreciation for life and the world around them, ready to face whatever the future holds.


1. How can I start embracing a YOLO mindset in parenting?

  • Begin by saying yes to more opportunities, planning outdoor activities, and encouraging your children to try new things.

2. What are some easy outdoor adventures for young children?

  • Simple hikes, picnics in the park, and nature scavenger hunts are great ways to start.

3. How do I teach my children to have a gratitude attitude?

  • Model gratitude yourself, encourage them to express thanks and discuss the positive aspects of their day regularly.

4. What if my children are resistant to outdoor activities?

  • Start small and make it fun. Allow them to help choose the activities to increase their interest and investment.

5. How do outdoor adventures benefit parents?

  • Parents also gain physical and mental health benefits, as well as the joy of bonding with their children in nature.

Incorporating a YOLO mindset and a gratitude attitude through outdoor family adventures has transformed our lives, and it can do the same for you and your family. Embrace the adventure, cherish the moments, and watch your children thrive.

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