Relationships take time. In the chaotic world we live in, we are often rushing from one activity to the next. We are constantly scheduled, constantly moving. When is the last time you enjoyed a slow cup of tea or coffee with a good friend? For some reason the world slows down, even if it is just for a moment, and you are able to quietly enjoy the afternoon with no agenda other than "to reconnect." Our children need this same special time with Mother Nature.
Below are 5 tips for connecting with the great outdoors.
Tip #1: When you make plans to garden, hike, or go to the park, give yourself a large slot of time.
I would recommend a minimum of 2 hours. Words that should never leave your lips: let's keep moving, hurry up, come on honey, keep walking, and so on. To find the true beauty in nature, your kids need to go through a reoccurring cycle: excitement, curiosity, hunger (bring snacks!), and then boredom.
Here's the catch! Boredom leads to (a) a silent connection with our earth and then eventually (b) a search for new adventure. Saying something along the lines of, "Let's hang out at this spot in the trail for about 20 minutes" can lead to great fun.
Tip #2: Lead by example.
Tell the kids, "I am going to sit quietly for about 5 minutes and watch the river. You're welcome to play on the trail as long as you are close enough to see me." Generally when I tell my girls this they wander a bit and then eventually come snuggle up next to me to quietly sit. There is nothing quite as calming as water.
It is hard to enjoy yourself with a grumbling tummy. Here is a shot of Rose enjoying the river while munching an apple.
Tip #4: Let them explore.
Sometimes finding a secret nook allows a child to feel ownership of the area. Our girls sat between these rocks chatting for a long time, eventually their conversation turned into silence. I was lucky enough to catch this shot.
Tip #5: Encourage quiet time, reflection on the ride home from any adventure, big or small, is a great way to grow appreciation. Here Quinn looks back at Washington Island as we head back to the mainland.
How do you encourage a relationship with nature at your house? Let's chat in the comments.