The sun burst through the clouds sending its warm rays into the chilly spring morning. “Who wants to plant peas with me?” I asked cheerily. “I do!” replied my oldest son. We gathered our gardening tools and set to work. We turned over the soil and unearthed piles of big fat worms. “Mama can you watch this worm with me?” my son asked. I put down the cultivator and crouched beside him. We watched a worm slowly wiggle its way back into the soil. “Don’t you think it’s strange how fast time passes when we watch worms?” he asked. I smiled in reply, my heart full.
There’s plenty of research telling us how regular outdoor play makes kids healthier, happier, stronger and even smarter! But what if I told you that raising nature loving kids will make you happier too?
My worm watching days would have been long gone if it had not been for my children. My days of wondering at nature slowly ended in my adolescence and were non-existent throughout university. Then as a new mother of one, two and then three little ones my drive for getting stuff done, perfectly I might add, broke me. After the birth of my third child I took dangerous dive into the paralyzing world of anxiety and I was drowning.
The path to healing was slow and arduous. I had to take a hard look at my values and priorities and it wasn’t easy. I started spending more time outside. At first it was to let my children run and play unhindered, but outside in nature I discovered peace. Away from my to-do lists, worries and the pulls of society I could be present in the moment. I could be myself. I could breathe. I started seeing the little things that captivated my children: an unfurling flower, an ant carrying a crumb, a shiny beetle… Slowly my childhood sense of wonder was rekindled.
The more time I spent outside with my children, the more balanced I felt. Gently nature was teaching me many beautiful lessons: how to find inner peace, how to be present, how to be patient, how to wonder, how to wander, how to work and how to play. Nature was showing me how to a be happier and more joy filled mother.
“Mama, why does that mountain looks so much smaller?” my daughter asked the other day. “It’s because you’re getting bigger” I replied. When I discovered that raising my kids to love nature was just as good for them as it was me, I made it a priority for our family. We choose to scale back the extra-curricular activities and start hiking local trails, exploring wild places, visiting farms and smelling flowers instead. It’s a decision that I will never regret.
So yes, send your child outside, but be sure to follow them and wonder at nature together.
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