It is pure and inspiring watching children engage with the natural world. They are always so captivated by it and so engaged in every moment.
So when does stopping to watch ants, collecting bugs or wondering at the natural beauty of a flower become something we give less time to?
E.O. Wilson, claimed by many as the world’s greatest living scientist, says he has never lost that fascination and my hope as a mother, is that my children will never lose their fascination with the natural world either.
As adults, we may think it is unrealistic to find oneself captivated by nature on a daily basis, however when we do take the time to reconnect with the natural world around us, we somehow feel more grounded, more connected and so much happier inside ourselves.
I recently read a fascinating article in the Guardian that discussed the 10 reasons we need more contact with nature. It spoke of nature’s ability to heal, its power as an anti-depressant, it’s ability to reduce anger and anxiety. The article went on to describe how nature awakens our senses, especially our sense of smell. It spoke of patients in hospitals who had views of the trees outside, needing less pain relief.
One of my favourite points raised in this article was how nature bonds families. I know this to be true for my family. We live in a world that is moving at such a fast pace with technology leading the way. As a parent with children ranging from preschoolers to high school graduates, I face the challenge of helping my kids to find balance.
For my 5 year olds, creating a balance with nature is pretty easy to manage. It can be tricky creating a balance, but one thing that has worked for us is to have a no TV mid-week rule, which means Friday, and Saturday night movies are a real treat. I find they are happier and more creative. They have to make up their own games, build cubbies, play dress ups, explore in the garden, climb trees, fall out of tress and generally just be kids. It’s the most natural thing in the world for them to engage with nature as they are so curious. Every day we strive to do at least one activity outdoors and prioritise this into our routine.
For my teenagers though, the amount of screen time they are exposed to for either school or social media purposes is greater and therefore finding balance is more of a challenge. As a family, we plan time off the grid. This is one of my favourite times. I find that everyone talks more as a family, we laugh, we reconnect as much with each other as with the environment and we are all better for it.
Rewiring back into somewhere natural is so important to us. My hope has always been that all of our kids would continue to have a relationship with the great outdoors and recently, there has been nothing more satisfying as parents than seeing our eldest daughter graduate from her Safari guide training course in South Africa. She has reignited her passion for the outdoors inspired by her early experiences as a child. Our son, who loves spending time outdoors whether it be surfing or in the country is now is planning on doing the same course next year.
Seeing our kids grow up and actively seek out natural experiences, has further cemented the importance of making sure there is that connection to nature from an early age. And it has made me think, maybe looking after our health is not just about making sure we eat more greens but that we also spend more time in areas that are green.