Friday, June 23, 2017

Returning Outdoors (+ 10 Resources to Help)

Getting back to the outdoors, plus 10 resources to help I grew up everywhere.

In houses, apartments and duplexes. In suburbs and rural spaces. On sidewalks and in cornfields. And I sometimes speak of my childhood with regrets in not having more stability, but the occasional change of scenery and new opportunities to explore were really kind of grand.

I think that is what's to blame for this mixture of a call to nature and a disgust for the creepy crawlies I have. I'm not afraid to have dirt under my painted finger nails, or to lay on a pink towel in the grass, but as soon as I cross a worm or a spider, I'm out. Nature and cozy, clean materialism are both in my blood.


As a kid, I'd leave the house before lunch and not return until my mom called me home for dinner. If it was summer, we'd ride bikes and roller blade and chase down the ice cream truck. In fall we'd build leaf piles to jump into and act out scary stories. In winter, we'd build snow furniture and not care that our limbs were slowly freezing solid. And in spring, we'd venture to the farmer's market for the year's first cheese curds and plums.

As a teenager, when the emotions of the world overwhelmed me, I felt called to sit outside with the breeze and watch the sunlight tickle the leaves.


As a young adult, I sloshed through acres of mud, barefoot, and threw gobs of rotting plants at friends while we laughed and worked our summer jobs together.

As an adult, I picked homes with views of trees and greenery, and have always made a point to wake early to watch and listen to the birds and squirrels and all of the energetic fuzzy things shake the sleep from their eyes in search of breakfast.

In the past year, I've felt called to bringing the outdoors in.

As a yoga student, I am compelled by sunsets, fresh air to breathe deeply into my chakras, and the beauty, personalities, and intricacies of birds.


I love the sound, smell, and feel of a warm rainy day. I love the cozy sweetness of a snowstorm outside our windows.

And I feel the need to push my kids towards a more outdoor way of life.

It's hard, here in the northeast. We have maybe 6 beautiful months - half the year we are struggling to stay warm, dry, and motivated. Our home rests in a sort of in-between neighborhood where there are no sidewalks and kids, and no cornfields and no sprawling, open air. And with their digital upbringing, it's a tricky thing to even convince them that outside is where they should want to be.


I'm starting simply, by building a big chunk of outdoor time into our daily summer schedule. I didn't go into detail when I mentioned our schedule the other day, but I set aside our entire morning for the outdoors. When the sun isn't as harsh and the temps haven't reached their peak, it's easier to get my guys to spend honest time outside. What we do out there everyday is to be determined from day to day, but my hope is that they started to truly enjoy it.

It's more than just stepping away from screens and cozy furniture. It's about vitamin D, natural oils in the air they breathe, good bacteria in the dirt they play in, sensory stimulation in the sticks they collect and the rocks they toss around, and a naturally gleaned agility and basic life skill building. It's so much more than exercise. It's nature therapy.


Feeling the need to urge your kids outdoors, too? Here's some resources for you:

The Nature Fix // This book was such a great wealth of information on how nature impacts our lives and interacts with the natural wiring of humans. Reading this inspired me to get my kids the heck outdoors.

Outdoor Fun Ideas For Littles // This is an old post of mine that includes 30 ways to get your kiddos outdoors and having fun.

Forest Bathing for Kids // This article is kind of a cliff notes version of some of the research done in The Nature Fix. Check it out, specifically to see what it means for little ones.

Shinrin-Yoku // A quick intro to the Japenese concept of forest bathing.

The Dirt on Dirt // This short article explains why letting kids get dirty helps promote health naturally.

How to Get Kids to Value Nature // It's pretty simple, really.

Kid Friendly Backyard Play // Some essentials to have in your backyard to help your kids get the most of the outdoors.

47 Outdoor Activities // Lots of ideas to get you started, here!

6 Things To Do Outside // This little list is sort of a general one, but what I like about it is that it just gets you thinking about how easy it is to just move out there. I love the idea of putting an air mattress on the lawn and just relaxing or sleeping under the stars!

21 Ways To Get Outside in Fall // For when we get there - we have to push the outdoors time for as long as possible around here!




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