Once upon a time in a land not so far away, my sisters and I spent our days running through the sprinkler in the garden, turning cartwheels on the lawn or racing around our block on our bikes. After each circuit we would throw our bikes down on the front drive way and run inside to check with our Mum; ‘Can we go again?’
We even made rose petal perfume to sell on a pasting table from our front door. Do you remember a time when Sundays were for picnics in the park, swimming in the local river and outings to the seaside? Ice cream on the pier, sandcastles and sea air. My Mum said it made us sleep better and she was right. There are other benefits too.
“Free unstructured play outside boosts problem-solving skills, focus and self-discipline. Socially, it improves cooperation, flexibility, and self-awareness. Emotionally, it reduces aggression and increases happiness. **”
Nowadays, we live a fast paced life where parents are uncomfortable and fearful about allowing children to play outside in the street or close to home. In reality, the chances of anything bad happening are still a million to one, but media coverage about rare incidents fuels our anxiety. Add in a good measure of screen time, busy schedules and we are heading down a rocky road that leads to anxiety, obesity and stress.
“21% of today’s kids regularly play outside, compared with 71% of their parents.”
There are no expectations in nature. No time constraints. No chores to distract us. It’s a magical place of discovery and wonderment. It feels freeing and light. It clears the mind, builds our immunity (Vitamin D) and hones our attitude of gratitude as we focus on its beauty.
Bring nature back into your life and see how your children become happier, healthier and calmer. Nature really is like a boost of vitamins for the soul and, even better you don’t have to spend a fortune to be nourished this way.
- Pack up a picnic and head off to the beach. Collect shells, build sandcastles, listen to the waves, feel the wind on your face.
- Unplug phones and other computer devices for a day.
- Get the sprinkler out
- Cloud watch
- Get creative with nature art projects such as flower pressing, daisy chains or leaf painting. Pick flowers and bring the outside inside.
- Plant seeds and watch them grow
- Find some buttercups and see how much you like butter
- Ground yourself – air your piggies and walk around the garden bare foot
- Visit a local beauty spot – Devil’s Punchbowl at Valley Gardens and Virginia Water are two of my favourite places to wander when the sun is out
- Set up a tent in your back garden and camp out for the evening. Marshmallows around the fire, snuggling up in your sleeping bags and moon / star gazing. Can you spot a shooting star?