Some of our favourite memories of childhood are from our time outside. Jumping in mud puddles, skipping rocks in a lake, chasing butterflies, and making sand castles at the beach. There was nothing better than spending the day outside until being called inside for tea just before the sun went down.
We wish our children could experience more of those long summer days exploring outside with their neighbour friends, but times have changed. Between all the extracurricular activities, safety concerns, and our busy schedules, time outside doesn’t always happen.
There are so many reasons to make outside time a priority for our kids and some easy ways to sneak it into the schedule.
Sneak Nature into Your Busy Schedule
Set the example
Remember the freedom and joy of just playing outside? Just because we are grown-ups, doesn’t mean we can’t be curious, enthusiastic, creative, and just have some simple fun.
We all know what we do, our kids will probably copy (like when it took a month to get that swear word we slipped out that one time our of our kids’ head!) Whatever it is, they are much more likely to develop traits if they see us modelling it.
...see you carefully examining the characteristics of a tree or flower – maybe looking up what it’s called afterwards?
...hear you talking about the beauty of a sunny day, smelling a flower, tasting herbs fresh from the garden, touching a worm, listening to the birds?
...see you throwing your trash away properly or even see you picking up litter on the ground?
Make it an adventure
Do something fun! Have a picnic at the park, watch birds and make up names and stories for them, jump into a pile of leaves in the fall, go camping in the backyard… The possibilities are endless!
Little by little
Full-scale gardening can be pretty exhausting, no fun, and send kids running for the TV in the AC (this is coming from a childhood of being my dad’s gardening helper!). So consider saving the chores for indoors and start with a small flower garden or tomato plant. Teach the kiddies that their plants need water, give them the responsibility, and the opportunity to help something grow. Chances are they will be excited to water the plants and spend more time outside!
Limit Screen Time
These days it’s hard not to limit screen time. We all know it can be pretty addicting (Candy Crush, anyone?), and kids need a little help developing that self-control. If you instil a love for the outdoors and take the TV out of the equation, they will go running for the hills…literally.
Put it on the schedule
Life gets chaotic and time for nature hard to squeeze in…but that is when we need it most. Make it part of your daily habit by walking instead of driving when you can, cracking open the window in the morning to listen to the birds before you start the day, and better yet, stopping at the park or going to a stroll along the beach after school with your kids.
Listen to the kids
Ask the kids what they want to do outside. Suggest new, fun ideas, but also fit in that volleyball game or swing at the park. In the end, it doesn’t matter too much how they experience the outside as long as they have the chance to learn to love nature.
Adding nature to our kid’s lives can increase their creativity and alertness and can help them focus better. Plus, it means we get to relive a bit of that freedom and love of playing outside ourselves. Teaching that curiosity and sense of adventure is one of the best gifts we can give them if you ask us. Teach them love and respect for Mother Earth and spend some beautiful bonding time with them in the meantime. What could be better?