I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not the type of person who can sit inside for days on end. Even before we moved to JBLM, I couldn’t do it, and I’ve found that since having children, I’m even more completely invested in getting these children outside. I truly believe fresh air cures all. Got the sniffles? Go outside. Stir crazy? Go outside. Getting on each other’s nerves? Go outside. It’s pretty much my answer to everything these days and, even when weekends don’t go as planned and aren’t filled with big excursions or adventures, I will always force us to go outside.
In an age riddled with streaming television, social media, tablets, and more, children have more reasons than ever to stay indoors, and I’ll be honest, my kids spend a lot of time indoors each week with school and dark, cold weeknight evenings. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, however, teaching our kids a love of the outdoors, getting them outside, and getting them to interact with nature is just as important – if not more so – than their formal education. Furthermore, I’ve found that when my children are fully immersed in a walk, or a hike, or just spontaneously splashing in puddles, they’re experiencing life more fully.
I read a quote last week from Erin Kenny that said, “Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls.” I mean, if that’s not the truest statement you’ve ever heard, I don’t know what is.
I’m a planner by nature, but I’ve learned over time as a mother that not all time has to be spent constructively accomplishing something. Sometimes children just need unstructured play time outdoors. Sometimes it’s best to get dirty, turn over rocks, throw pinecones, splash in puddles, and just be kids. You might remember that we bought our kids tablets for our trip to South Africa. We decided that an 18+ hour flight warranted some form of handheld entertainment. However, I had my concerns getting them. I was worried that they’d want to spend all their time on their tablets, and I wanted to avoid that at all costs.
But see, that’s where parenting came in. My children love their tablets, and they’re excited when they get to use them. We’re heading out of town this weekend and have a bit of a drive, and one of the first things Spencer asked was, “can we use our tablets?!” I told him, absolutely, but therein lies the heart of it. My children have tablets, but they return them after travels. We tuck them away, and we save them for trips and special times. Other than that, they’re playing. We go outside. We play with our hands. We get messy, and we explore.
I am not the world’s best mother, and I make mistakes (a lot, I might add), but I never regret a day that we spend outside together. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be elaborate to make memories. We explored the fields and trails behind our house, and you would’ve thought we were on an epic adventure together. I truly believe that nature is the cure for everything – the cure for the common childhood – so if you’re looking for us, check outside.