I think I’m not wrong in saying that we all need a little bit of an antidote to this fast-paced life. I feel lucky to have grown up in a village where being outdoors was the norm. The only rules to be followed were, be back before the sun sets, do not eat at the neighbour’s lest they think we are poor!
This allowed for a lot of unsupervised and uncontrolled playtime. It was incomprehensible why and how kids should be inside in broad daylight! Tv was not meant for kids that is if you owned one, most people did not. We were among the lucky few who had a set (a tiny black and white box) but it was more for the adults. Some evenings we kids were allowed to partake, WWF was a favourite, the best part of it was the anticipation leading up to the show.
It seems that the more tech savvy the world gets the wider the disconnect to the natural world. I appreciate this new information age and all the possibilities it has given life to, which were unimaginable just a century ago. I also feel a loss because of the social and environmental disconnect that is happening as we become more dependent on our devices and tools. Did you guys know that there is a virtual reality game that lets you experience the natural world in all its majesty, from the comfort of your sofa! Who would have thought such a thing possible! While I cannot condemn this marvel, I also cannot advocate for it, it is no wonder the rate of obesity has skyrocketed.
Raising my daughter when times are so different, I cannot help feeling sad that she will not get to go off to places unknown to us. With the instructions to be home by sunset. As parents we are now well aware of most dangers that our kids might encounter. I’m not in a place to say if it was indeed easier for our parents to be unafraid about our safety. Given that they were not exposed to an overflow of gruesome acts happening to children, and were blissful in our absence with no knowledge whatsoever of our whereabouts I assume they must have been fearless. I cannot imagine not knowing where my child is and still breathing easy! We are wired to always protect our little ones but where does one draw the line between protecting them and clipping their wings.
Unplug and connect with nature
Most kids are now exposed to screens, Video games, Virtual reality and so on, way too early. It is not uncommon for a one-year-old to be watching tv, or playing with it as background noise. I understand parental exhaustion only too well. At times it seems so much easier to put the kids in front of the tv or leave them to their devices for some peace and quiet, especially after a long working day. I’m not here to judge but to explore options that might help us and our kids unplug.
When I talk about nature, I’m not talking about just the woods or the beach but also our local parks and your backyard. Places that are easily accessible and FREE. Where kids can get away from computer games and uncontrolled screen time, to connect with the natural world. Let’s look at a few reasons why I personally think it’s important to unplug and connect with nature.
There is some sort of magic that can only be experienced in the natural world. A calmness and a deep sense of being connected to everything. Our wild-hearted girl is so in her element that tantrums do not exist. I have realized this happens because nature has a way of putting our minds chatter to death, engaging all our senses and slowing us down to what’s really important.
We love adventures, everything is an adventure. Going to our local park, exploring our host country, travelling, sitting by a brook, going to the playground, cooking together or just watching one little girl climb on her house bed narrating all sorts of imaginary tales. It is all one big adventure.
In my experience there are absolutely no stressors when having an adventure. The parents are chill and the child as well. Which in turn creates a really good atmosphere for the family to not only thrive but connect deeply as they share in the little joys of life.
A child who is attuned to nature
When in nature our child does not require a lot of supervision. We generally don’t have much to say no to. Which leaves her free to her wild imagination. The world around her draws her attention to all the little things happening. She studies bugs, ants and all sorts of things to be found. observing for as long as she needs to, which teaches her focus. She knows some sticks have prickly thorns so she is careful picking them. She is aware of stinging-nettle though she seems thrilled by the burning sensation, She knows that shells are houses to crabs and snails so she handles them with gentleness. She has developed quite an awareness of the world around her which makes her attentive to it.
She is at her happiest when she can observe animals, at a safe distance though. At times she works up enough courage to pet or feeds them and her face is that of sheer happiness. We have a favourite tree in one of our local park and surprising enough, she is aware of its seasonal changes. The last time we visited she pointed out it was naked. She knew how that happened since she spent quite some time picking up leaves in fall. I can hardly wait for her to see it bloom in spring, it’s such a sight to behold. I’m not really surprised at how attuned she is with the natural world since she spends a lot of time exploring and picking treasures,
A wonderful sense of happiness
There is no way one can be relaxed and unhappy, especially when you are with your loved ones. I recently read that doctors are now prescribing nature walks as treatment for various ailments, especially mental illness. It is amazing what a little nature walk can do to the soul.
It humbles us to see such vast natural beauty uninfluenced by mankind. It also fills us with a sense of gratitude. We cannot take lightly that we are alive, together, with time on our hands, aligned in our slow living goal and doing exactly that, for free. It is a blessing and deeply fulfilling to find like minded people who belong together.
I will admit this though, my husband gets a bit upset because I take a lot of photos, when I’m supposed to be totally unplug. I love having great tangible memories and I will tell you, he doesn’t mind scrolling through them either. I’m learning to schedule a short time for photos then put my phone swiftly away.
Most things can always be improved upon including parenting. It is a practice which we have to keep at, we can always do better, learn more, start over, change things that need changing. For just a day unplug your tv, Instagram, videogame or whatever digital world you consume. Take your kid(s) and head out to the natural world, see for yourself how it will affect you and your family. If this is impossible for whatever reason, throw open all your windows and let fresh air in. Plant something in a pot or get some fresh flowers, bring nature to you and celebrate calm, that too is a start.
We are in no way an anti-screen time or video games. I love Netflix and I enjoy Instagram. My husband enjoys gaming. Our 3-year-old has very limited and controlled screen time. She has 2 shows that she loves dearly and watches every few days. Peppa pig who has suddenly set the bar for most things she does and Our Planet which is a very informative doku on mother earth. She has some audiobooks too which she listens to often when we are trying to calm down or when she wants to, yes Peppa pig is one of them.
Times have changed, our kids can no longer play for hours on end unsupervised, but we can do our best to exposes them to the world while still protecting them. Engaging with the natural world is essential to our well being. We learn about nature by being in it. Let’s make time for our children to roam in nature and feed their curious minds. Let’s allow them to play in the rain (dressed right of course), climb trees, get dirty, swim in lakes… Let them be pirates, explorers, fairies, animals, all the characters they encounter in books. Skinned knees do heal but an underdeveloped, unnurtured brain is hard to come back from. Digital media is well and okay but it does not aid much in brain development.
Thank you for stopping by dear reader, don’t forget to connect with the nature and let it nurture your soul.