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Why Nature for Parents and Families?

The magic sauce combination for body, mind, and heart well-being

Nature Heals

In a society that asks a lot of us, it’s easy for parent caregivers to feel drained and overwhelmed. But nature has the ability to help refill the cup and restore a sense of balance. It can help us heal our individual physical, psychological, and emotional wounds, which allow us to show up for our families in stronger and more mindful ways.

 

From young children to great-grandparents, everyone in the family can benefit from the many benefits that come from time spent outside. Indeed, each of the benefits that children experience when in nature can be enjoyed by the adults who care for them as well.

Keep in mind that if regularly spending time in nature is not part of your individual or family lifestyle right now, that is okay. It can be hard to build new habits and to shift your family routines, but it is never too late to begin. To get yourself moving, start small. If you live or work near a greenspace, take your lunch break outside. When your children get home from school, instead of TV time or launching right into homework, offer them 20 minutes playing outside together. Try to honor that time for both you and your children the same as you would a doctor's visit or other important commitment. If you have free time for yourself, join a local walking, hiking, or outdoor yoga group. You are likely to meet other parents interested in outdoor wellbeing at such events, and can begin to build your community.

Whenever you begin a nature session, be mindful of how you feel when you start your activity and how you feel when you are done. Do you feel any shifts, even if slight? Does your body feel a bit more energetic? Do you feel a bit less overwhelmed or frustrated? These minor improvements are meaningful and can and will seep into the lives of everyone in your family unit!

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Nature Connects 

Spending time in nature can be a wonderful way to connect with your children, partner(s), other family members, and greater community. Why?

For one, the improved mental state that time in nature often elicits is one of openness, a receptive mental state in which caring for and communicating with others comes more easily.

 

The science of "mirroring", in which one person's mindset influences that of those around them, also is at play. As one family member feels more relaxed, more joyful, or more curious, it can spread to those around them.

 

Consider too that nurturing interpersonal bonds comes easier when individuals can spend quality time together without the distractions of technology and to do lists. Whether stargazing, gardening, hiking, or picnicking, nature-based activities encourage children and adults to make emotional connections with others.  

 

Lastly, nature is a a memory making magnet! Shifting seasonal landscapes, scampering animals, and changing weather patterns all help people get out of their own heads and into the fascinating dance of the world around them. This mindful state, encouraged by unique experiences, lends itself to moments that can't help but deepen family and community bonds.

 

But is is also much more than these quantifiable benefits. 

Time in nature is also the wonder of a flower that looks otherworldly. The peace of drifting fog on a morning lake. The almost silent whisper of falling snow that makes it feel like the whole world is letting out a big sigh. The humor in a duck waddle. The mind-boggling intricacies of nature's persistent cycles. Even the fear when storms and hungry predators remind us we humans are not all-powerful.

It is the reality that we are part of the natural world. Children are nature. Adults are nature. We have more than 70% of our DNA in common with slugs.  We aren't just surrounded by nature, we are it.

It is also the hope that the more children spend time in the natural world, the more they will come to understand it. And the more they understand it, the more likely it is that they will develop a fondness for it. And the more they develop a fondness for it, the more they will care for it as they age.

Now THAT'S a benefit.

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