My son pushed me to embrace nature this winter.This was my son’s second winter, and, because of how mild it started out, we found the transition into cold weather a little more difficult. When it came, we weren’t ready to be stuck indoors because we had grown accustomed to going on long walks every day. And since the weather was still so unpredictable, I found that the cold days came as a sad surprise every time. We have always been nature lovers, to be sure, and we have always therefore tried to at least leave the house even on the coldest days. But my son’s love for the outdoors is something altogether more fundamental to his temperament and more key to his everyday happiness. Since he was a tiny tiny baby, my son has been drawn outside in so many ways. Walking around outside would bring him calm during his greatest upsets, entertainment during his worst boredom, and sleep during his times of being most what we in the baby world call “overtired.” This showed me that he saw being outside as a necessary part of his life - not to get exercise or to reach a specific destination, but to generally feel good. He was a happier baby when he spent time outside (and there's lots of science to back him up). Because of this aspect of my son’s personality, he taught me to view nature in this way as well. He showed me that being outside should be a part of my day because it is naturally something to which we are all drawn. Maybe the daily grind separates adults from their outdoor side, but our kids give us a chance to get back out there!
My son’s quiet encouragement to get outside gave us the opportunity to connect with other parents and kids who did the same.My son’s quiet encouragement to get outside more often gave us the opportunity to meet other parents and their kids who did the same. That led us to become involved in a wonderful group called Hike it Baby, which encourages parents and children around the worlds to get outside and walk as often as they can. Through my involvement with Hike it Baby, I have added a few more walks to our week and those walks have included parents and kids from my area. Thus I have not only enjoyed many hikes in my town, but also met several other moms and built great friendships. Hike it Baby is a fantastic organization because it takes that natural tendency for babies (and little ones of most ages) to want to get outside, and puts it into practice. Another good resource is LocalHikes.com, which offers information on some hikes that may be near you (I say "good," not "great," because it doesn’t have any hikes in my totally hike-able home state, Michigan). I also found this blog post from The Wilderness Society to be quite helpful, especially when planning my own hikes for the first time. But of course, wherever you live and however you do it, getting outside is the most important part. Our kids are drawn to the outdoors in a unique way. When we see that quality in them as a chance to experience the outdoors with them, we might just open up new doors for our parent-child friendships.