You know those people who love to breathe in some fresh air and are able to discern extreme beauty in the picturesque outdoors? They are the same people who love the smell of the woods and feel most at peace when they are taking in all nature has to offer. You know these people, right? Well, I am absolutely, 100% NOT. ONE. OF. THOSE. PEOPLE.
Honestly, I feel embarrassed to admit it. I am ashamed that I do not have more appreciation for all of the natural parts of the world that we live in. I could really care less for seeing beautiful mountain-tops off in the distance or observing a wildlife creature in its normal habitat. I have an extreme dislike for creatures that crawl and for some that fly, and I sure as heck am not interested in anything that has sharp teeth and would chase and/or bite me. I don’t like getting dirty and I’m not all that adventurous.
But, guess what? I live with two of those nature-loving people — my husband and my son. As a wife, whether or not I find enjoyment and peace in nature doesn’t really affect my relationship with my husband all too much. Although he is flabbergasted by my lack of reaction and acclamation for all natural things, he just usually shrugs his shoulders and confusingly shakes it off. However, for my son, it can and will affect my relationship with him if I do not find a way to be more venturous and willing to explore the world around us, with him.
See, my son is three and he is every bit a boy. He likes to smash “bad” bugs and catch and release lizards. He also likes to get dirty and to look for butterflies and squirrels. If it involves the outdoors — you name it, he wants to do it. He also has a pretty big obsession with sticks which become his fishing poles, his light sabers, his lizard catching tool, etc.
I know, just as well as the next person, of The Importance of Letting Our Children Develops Interests Organically, and that is why I cannot stifle or impede his love of all things animal and nature-related. As the parent, I have to be ready and willing to jump into his interests and partake/engage with him. I have to be willing to find and/or make opportunities for him to do what he enjoys, which for him involves, and typically revolves, around the outdoors.
I had to do a little research on this one to help me figure out how to help myself with this since I am not an outdoorsy-type person. Here is what I came up with.
Here are EIGHT ways which an indoor-loving momma can bond with her outdoor-loving son:
1. SLOW DOWN.
According to Rachel Garahan, author of the mindbodygreen article titled, “How to Connect with Your Children Outdoors,” “nature is rich with inspiration” and is a “magical phenomena that no toy can compete with”. She added that “best of all, it’s readily available to each of us”.
Garahan’s opinion is that if we just slow our pace, there is an opportunity for something special to happen, inside of the outside surroundings, together with your child. One of her suggestions is to “explore nature like an adventurer” by using a pen and paper and taking note of the “lay of his or her land”. When we slow down, we can also keenly observe and discuss the weather and the seasons with our children.
How simple this one is, but still how fun for them.
2. GARDEN AND COOK.
According to a New Hampshire University Extension article, titled “Gardening with Children: Every Child Belongs in a Garden”, “more than a seed is planted in a garden”. The article states that “children can learn not just about how natural systems work in a garden—what critters and plants live where and what they need to survive, but also about themselves”. Then you can use the fruits, vegetables and herbs that you have grown to spice up your usual food recipes by adding the legitimate “fruits of your labor”. Your child will be so proud of the fact that they made their own contribution to your family’s mealtime.
3. CREATE NATURE ART.
Bring the outdoors inside with this one! Decide what craft you are interested in making/building. Then, go on a walk and gather your necessary materials and come back in to put it all together. Scour Pinterest and you will find tons of options from the more complicated all the way to the super simplistic. Be sure to meet your child where their attention span and skill are with this one.
4. VISIT YOUR LOCAL TOWN VISITOR CENTER.
According to Carissa Stanz, author of the Basmati article, “4 Tools in Building the Bond Between Nature and Children,” “the adventure of exploration is thrilling,” but “is even more thrilling when you understand the area”. Stanz suggests that “before embarking on your outdoor excursion, pop into the visitor center. Look at the artifacts, watch the movie, and read the facts on display. Engage children with the history of the area. When you are out exploring tell children to keep an eye out for examples of what they learned. Building knowledge will help in building appreciation” — for both you and your child.
5. REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE.
GreenHeart Education reminds us all, parents and children alike, of the importance of adopting “the 3 Rs as a natural ethic –reducing, reusing, recycling — in that order” as a way to show respect for nature.
According to Jake Miller, author of the article “Outdoor Adventures: 6 Ways to Nurture Your Bond with Nature,” “spending time consciously in nature nourishes us physically, emotionally, and spiritually”. Miller also notes that “nature is a wondrous teacher” and contends that the more we are in “touch with the natural world, whether out in the wild or in [our] backyard, the more it opens [us] to a sense of wonder, joy, and freedom, and helps [us] feel how intimately we are connected to the entire web of life”.
Maybe its the fact that I, myself, am regularly dominated by stress, perceived demands/ necessities, self-inflicted deadlines, technology, and let’s face it, my children. But, I need to move away from this — not the children — but everything else. I need to move away from the things that do not provide me peace and that are not teaching me. I need to move away from these things now and move closer to nature and to my children.