It's mid-term break and Autumn's golden syrup glazed foliage draws in our wandering eye.
Who has found themselves admiring the burnt orange and red leaves scattered about us as we travel through our day? If there was ever a time of year when Nature shouts "Look at me!", it is now.
With Nature at it's best and the pressures of keeping up with school life on the back burner this week, it's the perfect time to turn our minds towards spending a little quality time outdoors. The 7 Nature Days Challenge is just the ticket.
I'm conscious that not everyone is off work while their kids are off and this can add it's own pressure. If you have some time off work, that's great, but it's not essential for taking this 7 Nature Days Challenge.
The challenge has been created with time strapped, hassled parents in mind.
The short activities offer the opportunity to destress and connect for both parents and kids, so everyone comes back indoors feeling more refreshed.
Most activities require just 15 minutes outdoors together, increasing to just 25 minutes outdoors together by the later challenges.
The challenges are short so that parents are not overwhelmed by the commitment required when they may already be hassled, and kids can also get their heads around doing something as a family for just a very short time.
I am well aware of the kick back that may come our way when we suggest going outdoors, or doing something together at all, especially for older kids. If you or they are out of the habit of spending regular time outdoors, that's only natural. You can negotiate that 15 minutes isn't a big ask. I urge you to just stick with it in the face of any initial resistance (with older kids for example) - explain calmly this is a family activity about spending time together and you only require 15 minutes of their time. It is non negotiable. Check out the links below to our top tips for getting kids outdoors.
Try to avoid saying things like "it's for your good" as kids just won't see it that way. They want fun and challenge. Over the 7 days, you will get the chance to show them the fun and challenge to be had in spending time outdoors together using the activities. In my experience, this resistance will dwindle as the days progress but it may take determination on that first day to get everyone out the door! This effort is worth it though.
At the end of the challenge, the goal is release them from the structure of the challenge and encourage them to continue as they've started on their own. Hopefully they will have reignited some of that inbuilt wonder and curiosity for the outdoors. We ultimately want them playing freely, leading themselves, outdoors - that's when the really good stuff happens for their development.
Nature Days top tool to help your family get outdoors more, having fun together, is the 7 Nature Days Challenge.
What will you get in return?
In the short term -
You spend time together outdoors. Mostly kids just want our time and attention. When they feel they get enough of this, most are quite happy to head off to play by themselves.
You get head space outdoors and start to feel the real benefits to your wellbeing of spending small, regular, amounts of time outdoors in Nature. It be really life changing.
You sow the seeds for rekindling children's dwindling desire to play outdoors BY THEMSELVES!
You begin to reduce the kick back many kids give when trying to do something outdoors together, like a walk.
You boost your kids' mood, appetite, sleep, independence, self confidence. Who doesn't want that!
In the long term, you expose your children to the many benefits of spending regular, unstructured, time playing outdoors. We all want resilient, self confident, independent, creative, problem solving, calm, and active kids and our end goal is that they become those things as young adults. You have every chance of reaching this goal by the very simple action of bringing them outdoors to unleash their innate curiosity and wonder for Nature and playing outdoors. You can find lots of information about the many benefits of the outdoors and also connecting children with Nature here.
I know life gets busy, life gets pressurized, I and my family are no different believe me.
But one core goal keeps me largely on course- I want my children to grow up into resilient, problem solving, adapting, curious, self confident adults. And I don't need a parenting course to tell me how to achieve that. I just need to nurture their already instinctive love for nature and the outdoors and encourage regular time playing outdoors without adult direction. Only then will they figure out who they are as people and how to adapt to the world around them.
Check out our other posts, Tips For Getting Kids Outdoors and 9 Tips For Connecting With Nature to make your outdoor time a success for everyone involved. Always just do what you feel comfortable with as a parent and what suits your parenting style.
Use the Teenagers and Young People resources for helping get those teens and young people outdoors more too.
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Have a lovely week.