Do you read the current advice on getting outdoors into Nature and wonder how you’re supposed to do it? Or how to instill a sense of curiosity for Nature into your kids (or yourself)? Do you want to know why being outside is so beneficial? And, if you’d like to get your family outdoors more, where the heck do you start?
With Kids of the Wild I hope to answer these questions and help families get outdoors more, be more active and enjoy Nature. It can start with something as simple as an awareness of the season.
Connecting with nature isn’t just good for physical, mental and spiritual health, it teaches kids to love the environment and our planet which in turn will help them want to protect it as they grow up. And the planet needs that more than ever at the moment.
Autumn broke out with a torrent yesterday. I walked the dog over bleak and misty farmland around Caroline’s school before joining the pupils at their harvest festival celebration in church. Whilst the children poured out their thanks and donated their gifts, the sky poured and donated its own gifts, resulting in a very flooded path through the dunes for this morning’s walk!
We went on holiday a couple of weeks ago, as the hawthorn hedgerows were starting to rust a little at the edges. Now we’re back they are positively bleeding with ripe fruit, crying out to be picked and preserved. There are flames in the trees even though the air has now developed a fridge-door chilliness. Just a few days difference and the seasons are circling.
So what has this got to do with getting your family outdoors more?!
Below is a simple exercise that every family can try, to help create a Nature connection, however small, with the seasons. It starts with a little mindfulness.
Mindfulness & Meditation
Mindfulness is the act of paying attention to the present moment – to your thoughts, feelings and the world around you. It’s fast becoming one of the best ways to help improve mental wellbeing and overall health.
Many people learn mindfulness through daily meditation which is where I started. I discovered the following exercise through a free meditation app which I’ve been using to help process the impact of Caroline’s cancer. It’s a great place to start, as a whole family, trying to experience and enjoy being outside in the elements and seasons.
How to Start Connecting with Nature & Being More Mindful
The exercise will get you outdoors for just a while, it will start you thinking about Nature and the seasons and hopefully it will take you and your kids away from any current stress into 10 minutes of peaceful relaxation and connection.
Family Nature Connection Mindfulness Exercise
- Go outside with your kids – even 5 minutes is fine
- Take off your shoes and go barefoot if you dare!
- Being mindful (i.e. with a curious, inquiring mind) collect Autumn things
- Choose your own items, everyone’s will be different
- Pick up soil or dirt and hold it in your hands for a moment
- Take a few minutes while outside to write down how the season makes you feel, the things you love about it and those you don’t. Think about sounds, smells and colours too
- Display the items on a nature table or windowsill, somewhere they’ll make you smile and remind you of the exercise
What Does Autumn Mean to You?
For me, Autumn is about changes in light and colour. Mustards, ochres, tangy oranges, ambers and russets. As the season turns and the sun sets lower, the light becomes warmer, richer, thicker, yellower. Leaves and flowers fade to sepia like old photos as petals give way to drying seed heads.
Here’s what I came up when I did the nature connection mindfulness challenge.
Sights, Sounds and Smells of Autumn
As I wrote this list I couldn’t really come up with anything negative, though I’m sure there must be something!
Trees laden with fruit
Sunflowers fading to seedy clocks
Fields full of pumpkins
The delta V-patterns as flocks of geese migrate
Excited children in Hallowe’en costume
Bonfires and fireworks
Spiders sneaking into the house for warmth
Hidden red and white toadstools
Conkers on the ground
Tawny owls hoo-hoo-hooing at dusk or dawn
Geese honking their farewells as they fly south
Blustering wind when you’re snug inside
The crackle and crunch of dried leaves underfoot
The whistle and clap of fireworks
Rain on the window
Bonfire and wood smoke
The hot cordite of burnt out sparklers
Mouldering leaves on the compost heap
Damp, musty leaves after rain
Warm jumpers and woolly hats
Putting socks on straight from the radiator
The feel of frosty grass between my toes when I go barefoot in the garden
Blackberry picking and hedgerow-harvesting
Caroline’s birthday, though this usually feels like late summer not quite autumn
Family pumpkin picking and pumpkin carving
Cooking on a firepit in the dark
Planning Hallowe’en shenanigans
Watching fireworks, from the house or outdoors
Hunting for toadstools in the woods
Hot vegetable soups
Hot dogs, onions and ketchup
If you give this a go let me know how you get on and what Autumn sensations spring to mind. I’ll publish a post each season until next Autumn as a reminder.
For more outdoor ideas and inspiration take a look at my get outdoors section.
Caroline loves hearts in nature – here’s an outdoor autumn pic she took and edited!