I've always loved spending time outside with my children. But I've noticed some changes in our family since we made the commitment to spend time outside every day. For one, I'm a better parent. And overall, we are just a happier, closer, more creative family when we spend time outside and I believe there are three elements that explain why.
- Everyone is happier outside: when we play outside, the natural environment does so much to inspire imaginative play. Nature is the perfect playground and the perfect classroom all in one. Additionally, pressure is taken off of me to negotiate activities appropriate for our inside space. I could stay up all night reading about what new and expensive activities the Super Moms of the world have dreamed up for their kids, but I'll never live up and I'll never keep up. Our outside play is much more fun and meaningful than anything I can produce on my own.
- The kids get in less trouble outside: in the backyard, they can make more noise, more of a mess, and release more energies than will ever be acceptable inside. There is nothing they can break in the yard. No space that is off limits. We have taken great pains to ensure that our backyard is a safe and kid friendly place for imaginations to run wild. Even when we venture beyond our safe little space, the outdoors is generally much more kid-friendly than the indoors.
- I get in less trouble outside: Mostly because of everything listed in number 2, I spend less time disciplining my kids when they play outside. There's an additional element too and I'm terribly embarrassed to admit it. I'm just a better parent in public. It's a mixture of peer pressure and wanting to avoid judgement, but I just honestly yell, complain, and get annoyed with my kids a lot less often if I think there's a chance I'll be overheard.
They say that our character is defined by who we are when no one can see us. They also say that practice makes perfect. So I'll be in the backyard, practicing my best parenting until I can be the parent I am when everyone can see me.