Thursday, January 26, 2017

Getting outside

The draw of living out of town, surrounded by nature is strong. I know I am romanticizing it, but the thought of drinking my coffee in the morning while looking out into the woods instead of my neighbor's backyard is incredibly appealing. Imagining raising my kids where playing in nature is an everyday occurrence is even more so.

But that is not the choice we made. Even more than being close to nature, we value not getting in a car on a daily basis. When it came down to it--life in the woods with a car or life in the city without one--we chose the latter, but I still feel the pull of the former.

Last year I read Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods and it reminded me how important being in nature is for children and adults alike. We may not live in the woods with fifty acres of our own to explore, but we can still prioritize time outside. Here's how we are making it happen:

(1) Taking regular bike camping trips. We took two trips last year and hope to do two more this year. The feeling I get once we are out of the city and biking through country roads? Bliss.

(2) Going on Sunday hikes a couple of times a month. Our church is a mere mile and a half from a local nature preserve. Twice now after the service we have biked there for a picnic and a short hike (short being the operative word with a toddler and a preschooler). Most of the time was spent throwing rocks into the lake, building fishing poles out of sticks, and eating snacks. We were fortunate to go last weekend (as photographed above) when we had unseasonably high temperatures. Starting in March I would like to go twice a month.

(3) Take advantage of the in-town opportunities. There is a large park blocks away that features a creek and plenty of open space. Both kids love to "fish", launch "boats" into the creek, climb trees, and run up and down the hills. I want to be better about seeking out these little pieces of nature we can enjoy without leaving town, or even our neighborhood.

(4) Let the kids go outside every day, even if just into the backyard. This one has been relatively easy to manage now that we have a fenced in yard. The winter weather doesn't seem to dampen kids' enthusiasm for playing outside, or at least not HP's--E has a lower tolerance for the cold.

(5) Take regular walks. Going on walks has been a stress reliever for me since I was in junior high school. I have fallen away from the habit, but am trying to get back into it. It will be easier once the days get longer (and warmer!), but I am trying to sneak in a few walks a week. It does wonders for my mental health.

How does your family enjoy the outdoors while living in town?

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