Sunday, October 30, 2016

Raising an Outdoor Child in an Indoor World

Raising an Outdoor Child in an Indoor World

On average a child today only spends about 30 minutes outside and about 7 hours indoors in front of a screen. The relationship between society and nature is disappearing. Since the birth of our 6-month old daughter Autumn I have constantly thought about how we want to raise her and the kind of person that we want her to become.

Being a parent is an incredibly hard and overwhelming responsibility. Raising a child to be brave, confident, creative and independent among other things has its challenges. Being able to watch Autumn learn and grow with nature is something that I look forward to, watching her explore various trails, learning how the world works and seeing the amazement in her eyes as she watches a butterfly for the first time, or catches a fish by herself.

My two sisters and I were always outdoors playing, getting dirty, building forts and entertaining ourselves. We didn’t have Ipads, tablets, cell phones or any of the other various electronic devices and at the end of the day we were always content, happy and surely tired!

Nature and the outdoor world can be very scary to a kid and even an adult sometimes. There are many unknown variables and that can be a challenge when exploring new terrain. However, the experiences of my youth and the skills I learned playing in the woods have shaped me into who I am today.

The outdoors contributes to a clearer mind and a less stressful sense of being. Below are some reasons why we want to raise Autumn in a life of adventure, nature and the outdoors.

Being outdoors increases fitness levels and helps kids build a more active and healthy body. It also raises levels of Vitamin D and promotes better bone and heart health. Running around playing tag, hiking trails or just walking along the lakeshore catching fish are all contributing to a better body. We want to use our senses to navigate through the woods, parks or forests instead of through another app on our phones.

Teaching Autumn about the outdoor world and how to thrive in it will build confidence and those hands-on experiences will be extremely useful as she grows up. Learning about the stars will let her mind explore the bigger picture, teaching her about conservation will enable her to see her place in the ecosystem and most importantly teaching her that life is not lived in front of a screen or in an app. Life is lived by doing, by learning and by exploring.

Enjoying experiences and not things
Raising a child in a world that is consumed by stuff is tough. Even just being an adult in a world that is so centered on items is exhausting. Don’t get me wrong I get consumed by wanting to get those cute outfits or the newest toy, but then I step back and realize what it really important. I want to teach Autumn that life isn’t about items or material worth, it’s about experiences. It is about learning about yourself and how you fit into this big world.

Family Time
Nothing seems more peaceful than a family seated around a campfire. Being able to spend time as a family outdoors is something that I value. No matter the chaos of the day or week I feel that reconnecting outdoors is something special. And I know from experience that the memories will last a lifetime. The stories from my youth still are told today reigniting the laughter and peace that we experienced. I want Autumn to look back and cherish the moments we spent together enjoying nature as a family.

Becoming a calmer more centered kid
Being outdoors offers adventure, challenge and the freedom to explore. Nature has the ability to encourage kids to be creative, let their minds wander and just be themselves. I notice a difference in myself when I spend time outdoors and I can only imagine how Autumn will feel after letting loose outside. Being cooped up in the house can only be fun for so long. Relishing in running around, exploring, getting dirting and learning is exhausting, a plus as a parent!

Don't get me wrong there are things that can be learned from watching an educational tv show or using an educational app but some things are better learned by doing.  You can't feel wind with an app!  Watching rain fall on the TV is not as fun as dancing in it.  And feeling the peace and calm that Mother Nature exudes is something you can only experience by being outdoors. 

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