Today my only moments outside were between the backdoor and the car door. Yet in that space I stopped long enough to watch the gentle drift of snowflakes, saw them land on my mittens and coat. I saw their tiny shapes, adorned and ornate six-pointed stars. I shared this moment with my children as we stood in the doorway of our van (yes, I do own a van). Mountain Boy said “They are in your hair too!” with a laugh. Though my trade and training is as a naturalist, I have never been good at making time to enjoy the wilds. Knowing that it is a good idea, for so many reasons, isn’t enough. You have to schedule it until it becomes part of your routine and habit.
Why Go Outside?
* It’s free
* You will be getting a little more vitamin D – New studies are showing Vit. D is used in many more ways than previously thought, and apparently none of us have enough of it, at least none of us in North America.
* You will get more and better quality exercise.
* You will form connections – If you get to know your environment and develop a sense of place, you feel more connected to your home and your community. You will begin to see new connections between yourself and your place, and others who live there.
* You and your child will calm down – It’s mutual. They are calmer so you are calmer so they are calmer so you are calmer. It’s like a breath of fresh air, except it actually is a breath of fresh air.
* Your child may sleep better outside – Many people in Nordic countries believe it is healthy and ideal for children to sleep out of doors, and use sleeping porches or cots in covered outdoor areas year round!
* Your horizon will broaden – The falling leaves, the call of birds will take you out of yourself and your experience and into the larger world going on about you. This will help you put your stresses into perspective.
* You will find beauty – Even on the most terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.
* Your senses will be awakened – It is easy to turn off your senses indoors, but outside you will use your whole body and your multitude of senses, including your senses of life, time, balance, warmth,
* Children who spend time in nature are better at: everything!
Studies indicate that children who play and explore outdoors are less stressed and may further benefit by learning confidence and social skills.
(C)hildren who play and learn on a regular basis in the outdoors … tend to have higher school achievement and test scores too! (Nature Rocks)
Research indicates that children feel respected and cared for when adults they respect spend time with them outdoors. … They also tend to talk and communicate more, engage in conversation. (Nature Rocks)
Studies abound. This is a hot topic right now. If you need more information, email or comment me. Read Richard Louvre’s Last Child In The Woods and The Wilderness Awareness School’s Coyote’s Guide. Search the web for Children in Nature. You will be amazed at the resources you will find.
Fresh air, fresh perspective, old idea. You know you want to. Put on your ski pants. Grab those umbrellas and galoshes. Go outside.