“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children’s memories, the adventures we’ve had together in nature will always exist.” -Richard Louv
This is a quote from last child in the woods. A book I had read when I was pregnant with my first. Every now and then crack it open to remind myself the importance of natures role for my kid’s childhood.
Being a stay at home/work at home mom means my time is very valuable. (Isn’t yours?) Finding balance between work and fun is sometimes a challenge. I have struggled with the guilt of not being able to give my kids my full attention, all the time. In order to counter-act this, I make sure that there are set times in the day where they have my undivided, undistracted attention. This means at least a couple hour of no tech, divided up throughout the day. I prefer to do this in nature if possible as it keeps us all grounded.
I love this quote from the author. What a good reminder of what’s actually valuable. More and more research and studies are showing the importance of outdoor and nature play.
“Many of the developmental tasks that children must achieve—exploring, risk-taking, fine and gross motor development and the absorption of vast amounts of basic knowledge—can be most effectively learned through outdoor play.” (source)
Going to the local nature parks is one of my favorite activities to do, especially with the kids. However, when my husband is at work, we have no vehicle at home. Lucky for us the area we live in is beautiful and we find ways to make it outside in some form or another. Sometimes we walk to a local pond, where we are usually left alone to bask in nature at its finest. This is one of our favorite play places.
This is actually quite a trek with a toddler and 6-month-old by myself, round trip its about a mile and half. I am so impressed with my oldest’s stamina. He just turned two and can make it all the way there. Of course, it takes us forever to get there. Mostly because of rocks. There are a lot of rocks that must be picked up. And lots of rocks that must be thrown. It’s part of the fun.
Since I do not own a double stroller, I keep our baby carrier in the pocket underneath our stroller. The carrier is a must because, by the time we’ve made it there and played our hearts out, my toddler is too tired to walk home. So I end up putting the little one in the carrier and my toddler in the stroller and we make it home just in time for a nice long nap.
Nature is magically calming to my children. Both of my kids are content to just be. I’ve also noticed that as long as we get a few hours in the morning to play outside, we have less meltdowns and virtually no tantrums. (Most of the time, there’s always a few especially emotional days when things are just tough in general.)
At this pond, there are many little trails leading to the water, all lined with a variety of plants. Sometimes we go and collect flowers for at-home nature play. This week my toddler helped me select a few flowers to put in our “basket” (a Tupperware bowl) and take home to make flower ice. Afterward, we ate our snack on a blanket and watched the clouds. Then we were ready to go.
Since we can’t make it to the pond every day, we find ways to make playtime on our tiny apartment patio more fun. In comes the Flower Ice!
Flower Ice Nature Sensory Play
This was a super easy prep as far as activities go. I simply placed the flowers we gathered in a regular ice cube tray and covered with water. Then I found a square container and put the rest of the flowers in there an covered that with water. Then freeze overnight.
The next morning after breakfast we had a fun sensory activity outside on our patio. My toddler played with the flower ice and a couple bowls and pouring utensils he found while the baby sat in his chair and watched. It kept them both busy for nearly an hour.
My toddler enjoyed this activity more than I thought he would. I thought he’d really like the big block of ice, but he preferred the smaller ones to pour back and forth. He did enjoy smashing the giant block against the ground to make smaller pieces. Its a fun way to start to learn how different matters work. We also pointed out the different colors in each block and how they were slowly melting out of the ice.
Have you gotten outside today?