My twitter feed has been going mad today with the launch of the Wildlife Trusts’ Every Child Wild campaign, which aims to get everyone talking and sharing ideas on how to ‘put the wild back into childhood’. There have been some great ideas, articles and quotes shared using #EveryChildWild, which indicates that there are plenty of people willing and ready to engage with the issue. Loads and loads of great reasons to get outside and take advantage of the huge impact time in nature can have on children’s health, development and wellbeing.
Chances are that none of the information in those tweets will come as a surprise. We may not have the statistics at our finger tips, but most of us can list plenty of the reasons experts say we should be outside. It’s just that when its cold, wet and windy, or we have chores to do, or we’ve had a long day, those lofty reasons aren’t quite enough to push busy parents out the door. So here is my alternative list of reasons to take the kids on adventures in the wild – for those days when the more worthy ones just aren’t cutting it.
1) Keeps the house tidy (ish)
Anyone who has spent longer than 5 minutes in the company of a toddler know what havoc they can cause to a tidy home. Cupboards opened and emptied, toys tipped out all over the floor, the clean laundry thrown down and stamped on, the pasta relocated to your handbag… an inquisitive toddler on a rampage can turn your whole house upside down and inside out, leaving you behind picking up the pieces. So the less time you spend in your house, the less tidying up there will be to do. They can chuck leaves, throw sticks, and splash water all they want in the great outdoors, with no tidy up required (obviously do pick up any rubbish though – I don’t want to encourage littering!)
2) Makes them sleep better
Naps going a bit wonky? Toddler fighting bedtime? Chuck them outside and let them run around madly to get rid of the extra energy. Fresh air has an amazing tiring effect on small (and big) people. Hopefully leaving you more time to
watch the Apprentice get some chores done.
3) Saves the entry fee for soft play
There are some great toddler classes and soft play centres that can keep your toddler entertained. But they (almost) all cost money. If , like me, you are saving the pennies, one of the big draws of adventures in nature is that they are free. Of all the things I have written about on this blog, the only one that cost any money was Countryside Live (ok, Hackney City Farm did costs us two cups of tea and two slices of cake, but we didn’t have to have them.)
4) Manages the tantrums
We are just beginning to enter the world of toddler tantrums, so I’m aware the worst is still to come. Generally though, tantrums or tears seem to occur much more frequently indoors. There is something about being outside and having physical space that seems to create the mental space to deal better with big emotions. And if a tantrum does occur, it is much easier to stay calm, acknowledge feelings and patiently empathise if you are in a wild space without a whole bunch of other people staring and tutting (yes, I know they don’t really. But it feels like it).
5) Keeps you all warm
Only really relevant at this time of year maybe, but one of the unexpected advantages I’ve found of spending more time outdoors is that we feel warmer when the weather is cold. We wrap up well before heading out, and are generally pretty active once outside (even Tom generally gets a run around). This keeps us warm when we are out and, when we come back in, the house feels warmer in contrast with the outside. As a result, we need to have the heating on less often (and aren’t in the house to use it anyway) which bring us back to saving the pennies. We have now turned the heating on here, but only for an hour in the morning, and more so that some of the mountains of wet laundry might actually dry than for our comfort.
So there you have it, 5 alternative reasons to spend more time outside this autumn. Can you think of any I’ve missed?