It’s been a long time coming, this blog!
Thwarted by the devil of self-doubt (is my writing good enough, will anyone read it etc). procrastination and extreme parental fatigue got the better of me for years.
Until recently that is, on a walk in the Northumberland hills when someone didn’t turn up because of the weather – it was raining!
That’s when I realised that my normal, my ‘out and about, whatever the weather, immersed-in-nature’ lifestyle is not many people’s normal. And it needs to be. For the sake of our children and their well-being, for their future and that of our planet. For our children’s children. Almost everything we need to know can be found in nature, in the great wide open outdoors. And you don’t need to be stay home parents to get you and your family into the wild either.
Skin is waterproof for goodness sake; we’re made to spend our lives outdoors!
Time to write then, just a little about the influence of nature in the hope of inspiring even one person to embrace wild nature in a way they haven’t considered before?
So, here goes.
“Where it Began…
……I can’t begin to know it…. ♪♪ ” but when our own Sweet Caroline was three years old, in June 2013, there was a day that changed everything.
The previous three years had been spent as a stay at home Mum, revelling, genuinely, in the joys and pains of being fully present in Caroline’s life as each stage of her development unfolded. It was a sheer and utter pleasure, though often very difficult and permanently tiring as any new parent will vouch for!
Having grown up in a suburban neighbourhood with three siblings, we were always playing in the garden or with friends ‘on the front.’ It was second nature (pardon the pun!) to be outside and engrossed, however unknowingly, in nature: tree-climbing, den-making, adventure games, leaf-wading in the Autumn, sledging down the railway embankment in Winter. We were all kids of the wild.
When still toddling I apparently spotted a birdwatcher in our local park and asked my Mum if he was ‘searching nature’ – what a perfectly childlike expression of understanding. And you know what, if we do search nature, she often has all the answers we need!
Naturally (sorry) I wanted these same childhood experiences for Caroline, so we walked our dogs regardless of the weather, fed ducks, rescued snails from the footpath, explored woods, climbed cliffs and, from very early on, returned home armed with all manner of natural treasures.
Pre-school No Brainer?
Then a disturbance in the force rocked our haven of tranquillity. There was an opportunity for 15 hours free childcare per week which the UK government offers when children reach age three. Surely a no-brainer for a desperately exhausted Mummy! But then…….
How many treasured moments might be missed during those 15 hours? What if a carer handled things with a different philosophy to mine? What if Caroline and I missed each other, heaven forbid?! And why was it called pre-school – surely she was too young to start preparations for going to school? And a myriad other questions.
So we walked the dog while Wild Daddy was at work. What better mentor than a faithful She-Wolf exuding wild wisdom in every padded stride? Caroline and I held hands. We skipped, we jumped and we ran, we crossed bridges, threw Pooh sticks, threw dog sticks, laughed at the ducks, listened to birds and finally collapsed in a sunny heap by the lake. There were flowers to pick, pond dipping to consider, wide open space to leap in. Caroline even threw her knickers into a tree (watch this space in case I inadvertently recorded a seminal moment in the creation of some obscure brand of knicker-throwing feminism!!)
A swan family paddled by, which is when Caroline first used a camera. I was quietly euphoric, immersed in nature, warmed by the sun and feeling complete peace as I watched my little girl running wild, delighting in the freedom to just be and with a thousand things to explore and discover. That day is etched in my soul forever, though Caroline may have forgotten it. Widgie barked in approval at the whole performance and I recorded every second in my heart, and quite a few of them on film!
Pre-school Our Way
I realised that pre-school was not on our path. Well, not the way most children experience it. We chose pre-school our way, guided by our feelings, a desire for Caroline to learn through play and in nature, so we could notice and adapt our activities to Caroline’s developmental needs at each stage of her growth, and with a firm belief that children should be children as long as they possibly can with as much access to wild nature and the outdoors as possible. The only thing to consider now was how to maintain some personal rest and sanity without any regular ‘me-time’ in the future, but that’s for another post, Oxygen Time
The Camera Does Lie
All that said, please don’t think that you need to live in a rural idyll to experience nature and the outdoors in your life. My photos show us in the heart of the countryside surrounded by wildlife with not another soul in sight. Pure, Enid Blyton-esque childhood Utopia. Right? Oh, how the camera lies!
The spot by the lake in all these pictures is actually 400m from where we had parked the car on a housing estate, albeit in a large village, and 5m behind us is an 8’ tall razor-wire topped fence surrounding a military base, proving that it takes little effort to get our children outdoors and into the wild. Whether you live in the middle of the country, in town or the inner city there is nature wherever you look and plenty of ways to bring the wild into your life. Once you get started, you won’t want to stop!
Call of the Wild
I am lucky that our family finances are viable on my husband’s single income, although it was always my intention to be a stay at home Mum regardless of any financial sacrifices and lifestyle changes it entailed (haven’t tested Wild Daddy’s commitment to this yet!!) Everyone must follow their heart regarding parenting and if nature is in your heart you can’t go far wrong. For me Motherhood, parenthood, is a joy and a privilege; a gift of nature, and there is no better job than to prepare and nurture the next generation for their future life. Mother Nature might be the only guide we need.
Wild Kids Rock
Hopefully this blog will provide some inspiration and ideas for bringing a little of nature and the outdoors into you and your children’s lives, whether in the tiniest of ways from your own home or on giant wild adventures in the great outdoors. There should be something here for everyone. Wild kids rock!!
You can find wildlife on your doorstep, in fact wherever you look but if you’re still not convinced, here’s some posts that may help: –
Reasons to Get Outdoors – Wild Kids Rock – 11 Reasons to Get into The Wild NOW
Wild Things to Do At Home – Go Wild Inside
Wild Ideas in Your Own Back Garden – Go Wild in the Garden
Into the Wild – coming soon 30 Amazing Things to Do in The Great Outdoors
Maintaining Energy for Parenting Kids of the Wild – Oxygen Time – Energy for Parenting