In today’s technology driven world, we are too easily disconnected from the simple things in life. Such as the feeling of the breeze on our skin, the smell of flowers, the sun’s warmth and the peace found in nature.
As a “hippie momma”, I feel it is my duty to ensure that I stay connected to the Earth, the seasons, nature, and my children. It is also equally important that our children stay connected to the Earth, the seasons and nature as well.
Spending time outside, simply looking at plants and flowers, observing the weather or animals, or gardening are all wonderful ways to reconnect to nature and appreciate the simple yet timeless aspects of life. Instilling such values with a child is a wonderful way to raise Earth-conscious, healthy individuals who aren’t attached to a screen or other device all day and has an understanding of their part of this greater whole that is the planet and the Universe.
Whether your child is one month old, one year old, or eleven years old, there are a variety of ways you can engage your child or children in being connected with nature. A small baby can enjoy the outdoors lying about on a picnic rug or blanket, observing the sky, trees, and engaging in their sense of smell, like the smell of flowers. A baby can also engage in other senses as well by listening to the birds, and feeling the breeze.
Toddlers can enjoy nature by taking nature walks, playing outdoors, and engaging in their senses. Older children can help with yard work by watering plants, moving about rocks, shoveling dirt, or just making a mess in general.
Playing in nature supports a child's creativity and problem solving skills.
Not only do children get great joy from playing outside, it benefits their overall health as well. Directly experiencing nature gives children a greater appreciation for the natural world and benefits their mental well being. Experiencing things hands on, actually feeling the earth, the rough tree barks, the smooth river rocks, the soft moss, etc. allows children to be engaged with their sense of touch, and come one with the earth. Their sense of smell is heightened as well, smelling the sweet aroma of blooming flowers, and the earthy smell of dirt. Their vision is able to focus on things near and far, as opposed to an electronic device directly in front to their face. They can hear the sounds of the birds and the trees, and the rustling of the leaves. Children are easily able to be physically active when outside which is vital for their physical health. No electronic device can give children the same experience and benefits of being in nature.
There is an increased risk of childhood obesity to those children who don't get enough time outdoors. In addition, there are rising rates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and rising rates of childhood depression. Some experts say a contributing factor to these conditions is the lack of outside play. So get your children outdoors, not only will they get the exercise their body needs, they will mentally benefit as well.
The whole family can learn life skills by gardening and growing foods, become more attuned to the Earth and its cycles. For the parent this kind of potentially very messy and dirty activity is a key opportunity to practice “surrender” or “letting go”. If you are a bit of a clean freak like me, it may be a knee-jerk reaction to cringe at any spill or rush to wipe off every last crumb that befalls your child. This can often take us away enjoying being in the present moment. The cleaning can always wait, but living consciously and appreciating as many precious moments with loved ones are always going to be priceless.
If you have ever observed children, you may have noticed how at peace they are outside and in nature. Children are incredibly aware and tuned in beings and we can learn so much from them, possibly even more than they learn from us! So I like to remind myself to be committed to ensuring my children grow up with an appreciation of nature and respect for the Earth, and to always find that child-like inner peace that comes from within being awakened by being outside, in nature and free.