I was at Panera working on my book today and a couple of parents came and sat down next to me. I could not help but overhear these new parents of toddlers talk about how to 'get respect' from their strong willed children. It made me smile, as I was considered the "strong willed" child when I was a child.
I was told I had a temper. I had meltdowns. I had attention problems. I was grumpy in the morning and needed lots of time alone at night. I was called cry-baby. I was a rebel.
I was never aware of what all that meant, other than it was bad and my family, my teachers, and society didn't like it. I thought it meant I was bad, that my emotions were bad, that me speaking up for myself and others was bad. I learned to keep my mouth shut and my head down. I learned that I was too much for the world.
I found, I still find, the one place that can handle all of my "strong willed" self: outside in nature.
In nature I can be me. Nobody criticizes when I laugh too loud or use my "outside" voice. I have not met one tree yet that scolds me for moving too fast or singing off key. The ground doesn't care that I am messy or that my bangs are hanging in my face or my shoe lace is untied. I can sit on a rock and not worry about how I look, how I sound, how I feel.
In nature I can just be me.
Further into the conversation it was said sarcastically that the kids never go in time out when they are outside. One mother then casually mentioned that the week their father watched them the children were angels. The father replied that that week the children had spent at least an hour outside every day.
The shock for me was not only that an hour outside was seen as a lot of time but that this simple idea of letting kids run in fresh air without walls closing in or parents yelling at them was ground breaking.
When did we start raising kids indoor zoos? And how can we change this?
It is time for more a new sort of parenting: Outdoor Lifestyle Parenting!
Skip the free- range parenting - go with your kids! Run on the beach, skip through a parking lot, jump rope down the sidewalk, hug a tree! Be outside with your kids as a part of normal, everyday life. Bundle up. Get dirty. Find the secrets of the woods.
Let them, let you, be free.
I just read another article today that said depression is caused my our indoor society, that our ancestors who hunted, gathered, and spent most of their time outdoors did not have the unsatisfaction with life that we have today. Now, granted, I love and appreciate having a beautiful indoor modern home, but I appreciate the sentiment.
Spring is here. (Even if it doesn't feel like it up north yet!) What a great time to start incorporating the outdoor lifestyle into your parenting, your life, and your children's lives.
Here's to outdoors! - From one who goes absolutely crazy when kept indoors and is very aware of how critical my outdoor time is to my state of mind...... Why wouldn't it be for kids?
- Jeannine Proulx
Jeannine Proulx is a nanny/ preschool teacher/ creative spirit who plays a mean game of peek-a-boo and loves the beaches of the earth. Her purpose in life is to support highly sensitive women, children, and parents live a conscious life!
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