Hurrah. It’s another bank holiday weekend and the sun is shining. The kids have finally cracked out a pair of shorts. My goodness, these children are so optimistic.
I love this time of the year. The sun streaming through the trees, sunglasses on and my Instagram feed is suddenly full of photographs of cherry blossoms. A healthy sign that bright days are coming. So, we should make the most of this lovely season. The only problem is, where we have been cooped up for so long over winter, sometimes it’s easy to forget how lovely it is to venture outside.
According to a report produced by The National Trust, many of our nation’s newspapers have run campaigns, writing about the current state of Britain’s children. According to their headlines, we are raising a generation of ‘couch-potato’ children. This statement may sound harsh, but I believe there is some truth in this. Living in Kent, I am surrounded by beautiful, rolling countryside and perhaps it is easy to forget some children don’t even have access to a small piece of turf.
In today’s modern world, we sometimes think shopping makes us happy, or streaming Netflix and to a point, yes, those things do make us happy, but, in turn, we can get a tremendous boost from being outside in a natural environment.
Science tell us that, although we think we like nature, we undervalue how much it helps us—how good it makes us feel. There’s this vicious cycle: We don’t spend enough time in nature to let us know how good it makes us feel, and then because we don’t know how good it makes us feel we don’t spend enough time in nature.
It’s easy to worry about letting kids roam free outdoors, so are children safer in their bedrooms than if they were out and about with a group of friends? Statistics, experience and common sense suggests not; yet persuading parents of the real dangers indoors, compared to the imaginary ones outside, will be very hard to do. It’s a frightening, changing world out there. But at least we can take some comfort in knowing that nature remains as beautiful as it always was.
Here are my top 3 reasons why we should embrace nature: –
1. Improve your Mood
You will reap the rewards in increased mood along with an increased social connection in your relationships. We all can relate to stresses of parenting, work and/or home-life, so if you are struggling with your mental health, consider the natural world as one of your interventions.
2. Kids learn Life Skills
Giving children the freedom to explore nature can incur some risk, but not as much as within the home. Three times as many children are taken to hospital each year falling out of bed. Climbing a tree is a good example of a life skill. It may be easier to climb up but it’s often harder to get down. This experience can teach them valuable lesson about their own limits. Life is full of risks, so the best way to prepare children for life is to ensure they know how to judge risk for themselves.
3. Kids Spring Up
Kids tend to grow a bit faster in the spring than during other times of the year. A major growth spurt happens at the time of puberty, usually between 8 to 13 years of age in girls and 10 to 15 years in boys. Puberty lasts about 2 to 5 years. Sorry, if that means you need to hit the shops for the next size up of all your children’s clothes!
As a closing thought, the outdoors is a great outpatient department whose therapeutic value is yet to be fully realised. Encouraging children to develop a love for nature is a gift they will cherish for their entire lives.
So, when nature calls, as parents, we must show them the way.