One thing I know about the kind of parent I want to be and the kind of child I want to raise, is that I want to immerse him in nature and infuse him with a love of the natural world. Since he was born, I tried taking him out for walks every single day, for at least an hour. It was tough in the winter so we didn’t always meet that quota. Ever since spring came around, its been at least two hours a day, and much more on weekends. Most of the time he is out for walks in his stroller with the babysitter or I or jumping in his jumper which we’ve placed on our balcony. Weekends we take him along on hikes in a back baby carrier, take him to picnics and allow him to play in the grass/dirt, or take him for walks in his stroller (we participated in a 5k last weekend). He loves it. He is very calm and alert/observant when we are outdoors and finds everything fascinating. When he gets back, he usually falls asleep much more easily and sleeps for a longer period of time. He’s had a nice glow (thank God he tans like mommy and doesn’t burn as easily as his baba!) and I’m sure he’s getting his daily dose of vitamin D, giving him a healthy and strong immune system. I’ve recently purchased a chemical-free sunscreen, but have yet to use it. For now, avoiding direct sunlight and the shade of the stroller, his sun hat, or the trees have provided him with enough sun protection.
There are several books I want to read about the benefits of nature on children:
Last Child Left in the Woods:Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder – An older book, one of the firsts in this field. Describes what the author calls nature-deficit disorder. Describes how nature helps children with all kinds of issues and lack of it harms them.
How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature – Brand new book. Heard an awesome podcast with the author about the book and can’t wait to read it! The frightening statistic he quotes is that children nowadays spend an average of 7 hours in front of a screen each day and merely several minutes a day playing outdoors! Its disturbing.
On a separate note – I’ve been obsessed with the idea of forest schools – schools that are held completely outdoors, in any kind of weather. There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. It sounds amazing. I would love to read more about them. Maybe I could make a forest summer camp since I have summers off for my little guy and some of his friends!
One thing I know for sure is we’ll definitely be spending time outdoors as much as possible!