The Simple Joys of Nature

Nature Lauren has become an ongoing joke on my instagram stories because I am truthfully not the most outdoorsy person. I gave myself the name Nature Lauren on one of our outdoor adventures where we got lost on a trail and ended up going a lot further than anticipated. Wearing only flip flops and having no drinks with us, to say I was unprepared is an understatement. Regardless we had a blast and laughed about it all. Being in nature is a simple joy we often take for granted.

Why Spend Time Outdoors?

As our homeschooling year began spending time outdoors in nature has become a large part of our day. We have always tried to spend time outside but I read a statistic about the average time an American child spends outside engaging in free play and I was shocked.

The average American child is said to spend 4 to 7 minutes a day in unstructured play outdoors, and over 7 hours a day in front of a screen.

Child Mind Institute

Exploring nature immediately became a higher priority for us. There are so many benefits to outdoor play but especially during this pandemic, I have really noticed the calming effect of being in nature.

Forest Bathing

My curiosity sparked and I wondered what it was about nature that has such a peaceful effect. I began reading about it and found an article about Shinrin-yoku. In Japan, Shinrin-yoku is practiced which translates to forest bathing.

This is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.

TIME

Ethan recently was sick and had a high fever for about 4 days and then a rash followed for another 4 days. Our daily rhythm was altered and we all felt the effects. The kids experienced a lot more emotional outbursts, I experienced more anxiety and we all felt increased stress. This past week we were finally able to get back to our mornings out exploring and the changes in all of us were noticeable. We took our time and noticed things around us. Before Ethan’s nap, he really enjoys when I ask him questions about things we explored. I ask questions like, “Did you see trees today? Were the leaves green? Did you see the ducks?” Each question he smiles real big. Not only is he enjoying the time outside and learning about the world, nature is giving us great conversation and benefiting his vocabulary.

Follow your nose. And take your time. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get anywhere. You are not going anywhere. You are savoring the sounds, smells and sights of nature and letting the forest in.

Time

If you are finding yourself feeling anxious, frustrated, or just wanting to relax I suggest spending time in nature for a reset. Now knowing more about Shinrin-yoku, I plan to educate Ethan and Lily on the benefits and hopefully establish an easy reset activity for our family. Big feelings happen, especially when little ones are learning to communicate their feelings. Having a way for the kids to naturally reset while still getting to work through their feelings is something I would love to provide for them.

I hope you get to explore nature soon!

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