Parents, remember the days of your youth?
When your summer or days after school were filled with running through the neighborhood, playing in backyards and parks, and gathering friends for night games? I watched The Andy Griffiths Show with my kids the other day, no joke! I like to show them a different pace of life. A time when life was slower, not really less productive, but slower. I said to my seven year old who loves to fish, “Tyce, can you imagine running with bare feet from your house to the river to fish?” It is sort of an untouchable world for us and for most people that live in modern times. Fishing happens when we camp. Bare feet only really happens in our backyard. Times are different.
my backyard was filled with a playhouse, swings, a slide, some simulated cars, a tram; which is a tire swing on a cable that went across my backyard. We had tons of grass and sometimes my parents would park the camper near the backyard. In it we would play house, with going in and out of the “house” and out into the “real world” which was the backyard. We had a fantastic hill that would have been great for a slip & slide. We didn't have one so we tried to make one out of trash bags! It never really worked, but we had a blast in the creating of it. I have fond memories of sitting on the top of the shed after gathering cupfuls of maple seeds. I would throw them from the top of the shed one at a time and watch them spin like a helicopter all the way down to the grass. It was in those quiet times that I thought everyone should be able to play like that so I started selling the seeds for 10 cents a piece at school!
My kids definitely have a little different life. The outside time is still present but a lot of it is us seeking it. Today we have the battle of pulling our kids away from the electronics to expose them to outdoor play.
I love this quote by Richard Louv in his fantastic book, Last Child in the Woods, “Natural play strengthens children's self-confidence and arouses their senses—their awareness of the world and all that moves in it, seen and unseen.”
Its not really that much different for adults, there are many things competing for our attention. Natural play and being in nature feed us in so many ways. I feel in my gut that it is so vital to expose ourselves to only a little electronic time. I glory when we leave it all behind and go to places with no electricity or cell service. It is time that is precious and time that feeds our souls. For me it is therapy. So at our house my quest is to create things my kids want to do where they won’t notice the struggle between natural play and electronic time. To create things for them in their own backyard that bring that therapy to them in small doses on an everyday basis. This is the reason that I have loved creating a backyard space that is inviting. We have hung swings, placed soccer nets, added hammocks and outdoor games, and our latest addition has been adding a trampoline. My kids via for it. They run to it. They play together more. They play alone more. They are creative with it. They think of new games. They add water when they are hot. Their Dad goes out to “play” with them more.
Richard Louv also states, “Parents are told to turn off the TV and restrict video game time, but we hear little about what the kids should do physically during their non-electronic time. The usual suggestion is organized sports. But consider this: The obesity epidemic coincides with the greatest increase in organized children's sports in history.”
In my opinion kids have to learn how to be active through their own desire not only because they are part of a team. We have to teach them how to be creative, how to play, how to glory in the words, “i’m bored!”
Nature is out there.
There may be less of it than when I was growing up but all the same it is there. Encouraging kids towards natural play allows children to let go of the control that is placed upon them in the environments they are in. Coupling natural play with nature will feed their soul. Plus it reminds them how to play and crave nature even as they go into their teenage years which is hopefully a habit that will stay with them throughout their life.